Instagram's Bolt app comes to NZ

Last updated 08:30 30/07/2014
An image from the Bolt app.

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Kiwi smartphone users will be among the first in the world to get a new messaging app from Instagram. But do we need another app?

Bolt, Instagram's new one-to-one visual messaging app for iOS and Android, is available today in New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore app stores.

In the already crowded instant-messaging market, it will be interesting to see whether the app takes off.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has more than 200 million monthly users on its photo-sharing app, but Bolt will stand alone, and users will not require an Instagram account to use it.

Users will sign up with just their mobile phone number, add friends to a favourites list, and then shoot and send photos or videos with one tap. Once an image or video is received, it is deleted from the phone and Bolt's servers with one swipe.

The new app will be up against already popular messaging services such as Snapchat, Viber and What's App (also owned by Facebook). Facebook itself has an instant-messaging app, which it says has more than 200 million monthly users. Forbes magazine estimates that 50 million people use Snapchat.

An Instagram spokesman said that Bolt was not built in response to what others were doing in the market, but rather to address problems with being able to quickly share images and videos with close friends and family.

"Bolt lets you shoot and send photos to your best friends - with one tap.

"Send both photos and videos as fast as you see them."

Instagram itself already has a direct message function with about 45 million monthly active users, but the spokesman said Bolt was more immediate and unedited.

One of New Zealand's biggest Instagram users, Liam Martin, of Auckland, aka @Waverider_, who has more than 1.4 million followers, said he wondered whether another messaging app was necessary.

"Why do we need to keep downloading apps and apps and apps to do the one simple thing we want to do, and that is communicate with others?" Martin said.

"The thing with new messaging apps is that you have to download them, and so do your friends, otherwise who else would you talk too?.

"Why not have a magical app that does it all? Wouldn't it be great to be able to have one app on your phone that let's you call, post photos, listen to music, watch videos and whatever else takes your fancy?

"As a user of Instagram I find myself questioning why they didn't incorporate the features of their new app Bolt in with Instagram."

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Instagram chose to start in New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore because the countries were all diverse, English-speaking, and high proportions of their populations had smartphones.

The company's spokesman said the app would quickly move into other countries.

- Stuff

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