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Instagram video chat and new AR camera effects available today

Published Jun 26th, 2018 1:53PM EDT
Instagram video chat
Image: Jeff Chiu/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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At the beginning of last month, Instagram revealed a host of updates that would soon be available on the app. Nearly two months later, those updates have finally arrived, highlighted by a video chat feature that will make it even harder for Instagram users to tear themselves away from the app for more than a few minutes at a time.

There are a few other features worth mentioning, but video chat is going to be the one many users will want to test out first. In order to start a video chat, all you have to do is head to Instagram Direct (that paper airplane icon at the top right of the app), open a message with a friend or a group of up to three other friends, and tap on the new blue camera icon in the top right corner of the screen. Your friends will receive a call and can answer to join.

“You can video chat with anyone you have an active Direct thread with,” Instagram explains on its website. “If you block a person, they will no longer be able to video chat you. You can also mute a person if you don’t want to receive notifications from them. To update your video chat notifications, tap the gear icon on profile and find the new video chat control in Push Notifications.”

In addition to video chat, Instagram has also added new topic channels to the Explore tab, making it easier to find the content you’re actually interested in seeing rather than sorting through hundreds of random photos and clips. Beyond channels for topics like art, travel, and animals, Instagram has also constructed a ‘For You’ channel that is tailored to your interests. You can also ‘Mute’ any channel to send it to the end of the list.

Finally, Instagram is also introducing a new selection of camera effects designed by Ariana Grande, Buzzfeed, Liza Koshy, Baby Ariel and the NBA. If you follow any of those accounts, the AR effects will automatically appear in your camera. All of these updates will roll out on iOS and Android starting today, June 26th.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.