Instagram Launches Bolt, Its One Tap Messaging App

Facebook owned Instagram recently launched its newest messaging app named Bolt. It is a one tap messaging app for Android and iOS smartphones which directly compete with the extremely popular Snapchat app. Bolt is currently available only for users in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa, while the app will roll out globally in the coming weeks.


Similar to Snapchat, this app allows you to send images and videos to your friends, which is automatically deleted after it has been viewed by the recipient. It also lets you annotate messages with text captions. You don’t need a Facebook or Instagram account to sign-up. Bolt allows you to sign up using your phone number and add up to 20 friends in your favorite list.

You can easily send images by tapping on your friend’s face or you can even long-press to send a video. After the message has been received, your friends can directly reply by sending text or images. The best part is the shake-to-undo feature, which retracts your message by shaking your phone within the first few seconds. Currently, you cannot send messages to more than one person at a time and you cannot add more than 20 friends from your contacts to the favorite list.


Apart from taking photos from the rear camera, Bolt also allows you to take selfies. You can also turn on the flast from the on-screen button. To delete a message, just swipe it to the right and it is gone forever. We’ll review the Bolt app in the coming days. Stay tuned! If you live in New Zealand, Singapore or South Africa, you can download the Bolt app right now from the download links given below.

[ Bolt for Android ] | [ Bolt for iOS ]

Instagram Starts Showing Ads

Instagram has started to display ads, starting with a sponsored photo of fashion brand Michael Kors, and this is how it looks:

Instagram's First Advertisement

Last month the company announced two categories — Sponsored Photos and Sponsored Videos, which has now started to appear on user’s feeds, promising user engagement with those brands they don’t follow or aren’t aware of.

The very first ad that popped up was a sponsored photo of a Michael Kors ladies’ watch, displayed on a table, with a caption stating “Pampered in Paris.” Instagram in a note said, “Michael Kors ran the first ad on Instagram this morning, targeting women in the US in a certain age range.” By late Friday, the sponsored photo had garnered more than 181,000 “likes”, along with some comments by unhappy Instagram users.

Instagram currently has about 150 million active users, and Facebook is quite positive in making a good revenue from Instagram. It is also said that Facebook is carefully adding magazine-quality photo ads to Instagram as it hopes to bring in revenue from the service without alienating users.

NASA Adds Instagram to its Arsenal of Social Media Accounts

NASA has always been enthusiastic about its social media presence, be it videos on YouTube, short updates on Twitter or live video feeds on Ustream. Beginning Friday, NASA has now taken Instagram to the moon.

The new @nasa account on Instagram launched this Friday with classic vintage images of the moon and earth. NASA plans to use the account to inspire the public with new content and keep them updated on the image sharing platform.

NASA has since posted pictures of the launch of the agency’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) from Virginia. In two days alone the account has managed to amass a following of 51K and continues to grow like the rockets they keep pushing out.

NASA Instagram

Instagram has a large populace that wants to look at inspiring pictures that are not of the facial or edible kind, and NASA understands that. Press Secretory Lauren Worley said. “Instagram has a passionate following of users who are hungry for new and exciting photos. We believe we have some of the most engaging images on and off the planet — and we can’t wait to engage with Instagrammers.”

If you have an Instagram account, go on, follow NASA on

Instagram Gains Video Sharing Capabilities

During a Facebook press event today, the company announced that Instagram is gaining video sharing capabilities. Videos hosted on the service will be limited to a length of 15-seconds. After shooting said video, the user can choose to apply a filter and then publish the short video to their Instagram followers. These filters have been developed specifically for video files, so they shouldn’t degrade the quality or sharpness of your published video. After a video is edited, the user can choose their favorite scene and set it as a still thumbnail for the clip. Videos on Instagram can be viewed using both the Instagram mobile app or the web interface.

Instagram’s new video functionality is almost a direct response to Twitter’s Vine service. This is due to the fact that Vine also allows users to shoot and share short video clips. However, unlike Instagram, Vine does not allow its users to add filters to their videos.

Personally, I think we’ll see Instagram video takeoff much quicker than Vine. This is due to the fact that millions of people already use Instagram on a daily basis, and since Instagram’s video functionality is built right into the Instagram app, there is no reason for these users not to try video.

Instagram has already rolled-out video functionality to both its iOS and Android apps.

Instagram Apologies and Reverts to Old Advertising Terms

The news about Instagram’s change in privacy policy and terms of service that broke out earlier this week caused an outcry by users, thinking that the new policy would allow the photo-sharing giant to sell images without the individual permission of users.

However, the update won’t be effective anymore as Instagram reverts to old advertising terms. In a blog post, Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom stated that they have discarded the new advertising terms and are going back to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010. Yes, that means you don’t have to close or migrate to another photo-sharing service. Your photos on Instagram won’t be used for advertising.

Earlier this week, we introduced a set of updates to our privacy policy and terms of service to help our users better understand our service. In the days since, it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right.

The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos. There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.

Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.

You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content. I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.

The three major points addressed by Systrom are Advertising on Instagram, Ownership Rights and Privacy Settings. In brief:

  • Instagram has no intension to sell your photos, however, they have plans to experiment with innovative advertising methods and monetize the photo-sharing service in an effective manner.
  • “Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos.”
  • As for privacy settings, nothing has changed. You still have control over who can see your photos.

Along with that, the company also pushed an update to iOS and Android platforms. It includes a new photo filter called “Mayfair”, now making a total count of 20 filters supported by the service. Also, the update provides users the ability to log in to Instagram via Facebook, without having to connect the two services in your settings.

Instagram Mayfair Filter

Google Acquires Snapseed to Take on Facebook-Instagram

Google has apparently acquired Nik Software, a German software developer which created Snapseed, one of the top iOS apps of 2011 which won the iPad App of the Year award in 2011 and amassed a user base of nearly 9 million users in less than a year. Besides iOS, Snapseed is also available for Mac and Windows, and an Android app is also in the works.

Vic Gundotra who is heading Google’s social efforts, posted on Google+:

“Welcome Nik Software!

Today I’m excited to welcome +Nik Software to the Google family! We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love, and in our experience Nik does this better than anyone. Check out the examples from some of the world’s greatest photographers, and you’ll see what I mean.

This week we also hit an important milestone–over 400,000,000 people have upgraded to Google+. It was only a year ago that we opened public sign-up, and we couldn’t have imagined that so many people would join in just 12 months. While Google+ is all about creating a better experience across Google, it’s also a destination. And here too, I’m happy to report that we have just crossed 100,000,000 monthly active users on Google+ ( and mobile app).”

While Nik Software also creates a number of other popular apps, Snapseed is what drove the acquisition. With Snapseed, Google+ has a much better chance of competing with Facebook and Instagram in the mobile photo sharing space.

Google also announced that it now has more than 400 million users on Google+, with more than 100 million monthly active users.

via The Verge, Google+

Facebook Completes Instagram Acquisition

Facebook acquired Instagram, the fast growing mobile photo sharing startup which challenged its dominance in the space, for more than $1 billion right before its IPO. While the payout to Instagram will be much lower now that its stock has tanked to less than 50% of its IPO price, the Facebook-Instagram acquisition is now finally complete.

Facebook just put out a press release, “Welcoming Instagram to Facebook“.

“So many of us at Facebook love using Instagram to share moments with our friends. And for so many people, sharing photos with friends is an important part of the Facebook experience. That’s why we’re so excited to bring Instagram to Facebook and see what we can create together.

As we said from the beginning, we are committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Instagram will continue to serve its community, and we will help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure. We also can’t wait to work with the talented Instagram team to improve the mobile experience.

We’re looking forward to an exciting future with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.”

Instagram also officially announced the closure of the deal, and also let out an interesting statistic — over 5 billion photos have been shared through Instagram.

While Facebook has stated that it will maintain Instagram as a separate service, it’ll be interesting to see the synergies that could be derived between their mobile photo apps.

Facebook’s Instagram Deal Approved by FTC

Facebook acquired Instagram months ago, but the deal was still pending regulatory approval, given potential antitrust issues. The Federal Trade Commission approved the deal today after reviewing it.

Facebook acquired Instagram right before its IPO for $300 million in cash and around $814 billion in stock, based on its IPO price of around $38. Now that its stock has cratered to nearly $19, the acquisition value is down to around $750 million, which is much lower.

Reasons by the Federal Trade Commission and the UK Office of Fair Trading for approving the acquisition included that fact that there was significant competition in the mobile photo sharing space, and that it didn’t generate any revenue. They also stated that Google’s ad business would offer tough competition to Facebook in the online ad space.

Facebook’s official statement on the FTC approval says:

“We are pleased that the Federal Trade Commission has cleared the transaction after its careful and thorough review.”

Instagram was probably one of its best acquisitions to date, and gives it a staggering lead in the mobile photo sharing space as well as access to more than 80 million users.

via Techcrunch

Review: Pictarine For Android

These days, almost everyone uses multiple social networking sites to stay connected with their friends and families by sharing text or photo updates. Facebook and Twitter allow you to share the latest pics with your friends and followers, while Instagram bring the functionality of adding amazing filters before sharing it with the world. Sadly, we have to keep a track on various apps to find out the latest pics shared on these social networks. To solve this problem, you’ll just need to head over to the Google Play and download the Pictarine app.

Pictarine for Android is an amazing app which brings all the pics shared by your friends on various social networking sites under one roof. This app not only allows you to connect popular social networks and services such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google (Picasa), Flickr and Photobucket, but you can also connect to less popular photo sharing services like the Shutterfly, Windows Live, Dropbox, 500px and Tumblr. The size of the app is just 1.8 MB and and the current version is numbered 1.0.6. You can easily install the Pictarine app on devices with Android 2.2 or higher version of OS.

To get started with the app, you will need to sign up with your existing Facebook or Google account. The sign up process will not take more than 30 seconds. After signing up, you can connect various social networking services mentioned earlier. As you can see in the above screenshot, I have connected my Twitter, Google, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Currently, this app does not allows you to upload the photos from your device. However, you can easily like or comment on the photos shared by your friends.

On the left side, you will find 4 options – Photo Feed, Surprise Me, My Photos and Playlists. All of the photos shared by your friends on these services will be displayed under the “Photo Feed” section. As the name suggest, “Surprise Me” section will throw 12 random images from the connected services on your screen. You can easily refresh these images just by sliding the screen in the upward or downward directions.

My Photos” section allows you to view the images currently stored on your device as well as on the connected accounts. You can even select individual photos and create your own playlist. This feature helps you to organize your favorite photos and view them at a later date or share it with your friends. The playlist can be a mixture of your own photos as well as the ones shared by your friends. You can find all of your playlists in the dedicated “Playlists” section.

The user interface of the app is quite simple and it works as advertised. Instead of wasting your valuable time on visiting multiple social networks and apps, Pictarine will help you to easily discover, like, comment and share pics across various apps and devices. Sometimes you might feel a bit of lag while the images are loading. However, there is a lot of room for improvement. Overall, I personally liked this app and would definitively recommend it to our readers. You can also access Pictarine web app from their official website.

Price: Free
Rating: 4/5

[ Download Pictarine from Google Play ]

Instagram For Android Updated To Add Support For Nexus 7 And Flickr Sharing; Twitter For BB Updated To v3.1

To get to that magical $199 price on the Nexus 7, Google and Asus had to make a lot of compromises including ditching a back camera on the tablet. Considering not many people use their tablet to click pictures, this definitely is a wise move. However, the lack of a back camera on the Nexus 7 also means that all apps on the Android Market that rely on a camera, including Instagram, give a “Device Not Supported” error.

Today, the Instagram developers have released a new update for the Android version of the app that adds support for the Nexus 7, along with the ability to share their images to Flickr. Nexus 7 users can now use the 1.3MP front-facing camera on their tablet to click pictures using Instagram.

 In some other app related update news, Twitter for BlackBerry also got a major update to v3.1. The new update brings with it an improved tweet details screen including the ability to see who retweeted your tweet, the ability to undo your RTs, and support for three new languages. The update is already available in the BlackBerry App World for users to download.