Amidst the turmoil of Facebook privacy scandals, Instagram emerges as a saving grace. In addition to recently announcing its milestone of 1 billion monthly active users and introducing IGTV, Instagram also just rolled out three new features first previewed at the Facebook F8 Conference back in May. The three features—video chat, topic channels, and more camera effects—enhance the already-popular app and give you some exciting new toys to play with.
You can now set up a video chat with another user or a group in Instagram Direct. For a group, you can video chat with up to four people.
To access the video chat, go to Direct, click on a conversation, and click the camera icon on the top right corner. You can even minimize the chat window during a session so you can browse your feed, engage with other users’ posts, and even share Stories while video chatting with someone without interruption.
When an active video chat is occuring, the camera icon will turn blue. You can click the blue camera icon to join a group chat (the camera icon will turn red when you join) and click it again to leave.
You can also block and mute users. When you block them, they are unable to video chat with you. When you mute them, you will not receive video chat notifications from them. You can manage notifications by tapping your profile’s gear icon and going to “Push Notifications.”
The topic channels feature organizes your Discover content according to categories. For example, if you click on the category “Fashion” your Discover feed will show content related to fashion. Previously, Discover was cluttered with posts related to random categories that may or may not be interesting to you. Now, your Discover experience will be a more organized and efficient experience according to what you want to see.
Topic channels will adapt according to what your activity indicates you like. The feature contains a mix of posts personalized for your interests. If Instagram knows you’re interested in animals, fashion, and food, your Discover feed will contain content about animals, fashion, and food.
Have some fun with Instagram’s new camera effects by Ariana Grande, Baby Ariel, Liza Koshy, Buzzfeed, and the NBA. These effects only appear to those who follow those accounts. However, if you don’t follow them, you can still use the effect if you tap on the “try it” button of the post of the person who’s using the effect.
The Ariana Grande effect layers your face on top of each other in a retro style that you can find in her new music video “No Tears Left to Cry.” The Buzzfeed effect adds the text layer “Oh yes!” from its series Worth It. The Baby Ariel filter adds a star-shaped light layers on the image along with soft colors. Liza Koshy effects add a funny looking mustache and large eyebrows to your face.
It’s no surprise that parent company Facebook highlights Instagram during its time of instability. Not only has Instagram withstood the negative headlines about Facebook and user privacy, but it also continues to be popular among younger users, a demographic Facebook is struggling to attract. For those of us who love Instagram, we get to enjoy the fun features the platform rolls out to maintain its popularity.