Instagram's Snapchat Rival, Bolt, Just Launched In 3 Non-US Countries

Instagram's new messaging app Bolt has launched in Singapore, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Looks like Instagram is leaving it up to an international delegation of message senders to decide whether its first standalone app is distinct enough from competitors. An Instagram spokesperson told The Verge that the three launch countries were chosen for their geographic diversity and their tight-knit communities.

Oddly enough, Bolt signups require a phone number, not a Facebook or Instagram log in. It uses your phone contact list to create a roster of people to send media. Once you take a photo or video using the Bolt camera, you'll see the faces of your contacts in a row at the bottom of your screen. Tap once, and send. They receive it, and it disappears after a swipe. You can add text over the photos and videos (sounds familiar?) and reply directly with a photo or video.

Instagram has a built-in fanbase, so this could gain traction... but the app seems blatantly cobbled together from services already on that market. I have no idea what the benefit of using it would be. As The Verge pointed out, the user interface closely resembles TapTalk, another photo-based message app. Comparisons to Snapchat are inevitable — like Snapchat, speed and back-and-forth conversations will be emphasized. Like Snapchat, the photos and videos sent disappear. You can only send media to one user at a time.

Not sure why anyone would use this over Snapchat, but I'll hold final judgment for when it launches in North America and I can test it out. No word yet on when Bolt will be available in the U.S., but it's out on Android and iOS in its international debut. [TechCrunch]