Continuing to encroach on Snapchat, FaceTime and other video-chat offerings, Instagram is now inviting users to hosts video parties with up to three other friends.
Through what the Facebook unit calls Instagram Direct, users can chat with one or more person in real time. To start chatting, users swipe into their Direct inboxes and open any message thread. After that, they can tap the new camera icon in the right corner, and selected friends will be invited to join in.
While on a video chat, users can minimize the video in order to engage in other activities on Instagram, such as sending messages and photos in Direct, browsing their feed, and posting stories.
Of course, Instagram is inviting brands, influencers, and publishers to get in on the action.
For example, the platform is adding a host of new camera effects designed by a host of partners, from the NBA to Ariana Grande to BuzzFeed.
Separately, Instagram is also adding what it’s calling Topic channels on Explore, this week. Topic channels serve as a new way for users to discover content on Instagram. When users open the page, they’ll see a tray at the top with personalized channels. This will include a ‘For You’ channel, including mix of posts tailored to your interests.
Users can also expect to find channels on various topics — art to sports to beauty — as well as a list of hashtags.
In addition, Instagram is endeavoring to help Explore’s roughly 200 million daily users control what they see on the feature. For example, if users wish to remove a particular topic channel, they can now press and hold the channel and select ‘Mute’ from the menu.
More broadly, Instagram’s various innovations appear to be paying off.
The platform recently surpassed 1 billion monthly active users, while Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral just estimated the Facebook unit is now worth over $100 billion.
Over the next year, Waral also estimated that Instagram will pump more $10 billion in revenue into Facebook’s coffers. He said Instagram is on pace to surpass 2 billion users within five years.