Instagram has been steadily beefing up its direct messaging feature over the past few months, as it began toying with the idea of turning messaging into its own separate app. Among its most recent changes were the option added last month for photo and video message replays, and earlier improvements such as support for web links and different photo orientations. Today it’s rolling out another change – users can now privately send live videos via direct messaging.
This includes your own live video, depending on the company, or you can share a live video you’re currently watching with a friend or a group of friends.
While the first option is largely an adjustment to video chat — a way to stream privately to friends — the second seems more of a challenger to a growing crop of “co-watching” and video chat apps.
For example, Google has Uptime, an experimental app for co-watching YouTube videos, launched from its internal incubator, Area 120. The idea here is that a group of friends can virtually “hang out” on their phones, all streaming. , chat and react to videos with emojis.
Others operating in this space include Tumblr’s Cabana, Let’s Watch It, and the iMessage app. Family, to name a few. Skype even said it was working on a feature like this.
The key idea here is that kids today aren’t always spending time together in person, but are still “hanging out” via their phones. With more powerful hardware and camera systems, they can now do this via video.
In the case of Instagram, it’s not just about co-watching, but doing it with inhabit video. And that twist on the concept just becomes a feature in its app – or maybe even a feature in a standalone messaging app in the future – instead of the entire user experience.
When you’re live on Instagram, you can take advantage of the new option by tapping the Live icon at the bottom of the screen. The company notes that your self-recorded live videos can only be viewed by friends when you’re currently live. Live, viewers can comment and react, but if they arrive too late, they will only see a message that the video is over.
For live videos that you want to co-watch with friends, the process is the same: you tap the Live icon to share the video via messaging.
If you don’t want to participate, you can opt out of Live video sharing in Direct through your Stories settings, Instagram says. And if you have a private account, you can only share live videos with your followers.
The live video sharing feature is now rolling out to Instagram on iOS and Android via a software update. You will need to download the latest version (ver. 26) of the app to use the feature.