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Instagram’s Bolt is late to the photo-sharing app party and might ruin your selfie

For those of you waiting on the edge of your seats with anticipation, the moment has arrived. Instagram’s accidentally leaked picture and video messaging app Bolt is available to the public … but only the public in Singapore, New Zealand, and South Africa. The company is reportedly ironing out the app bugs in these test markets first before launching in North America.

For those who don’t breathlessly follow every minor development in the noisy, crowded messaging app space, Bolt is a one-click picture and video messaging app. In the old process, whether Snapchat or SMS, users have to take a picture, then select a friend to see it, then hit send. Too much work in first-world problem land.

Bolt allows you to do it all in one step. When you click the contact you want to receive the image, it also takes the picture and sends it. If you want to send a video you simply hold your finger on the contact.

The downside: You can’t practice your perfect selfie face before your image is off into the world. Another downside – as you perfect the craft you will inevitably send some embarrassing pictures to friends and colleagues. In other words, don’t test this app out for the first time in the bathroom or lounging naked in bed.

Bolt, aside from being weirdly similar to Facebook’s newly launched Slingshot messaging app (a little intracompany competition?), also bears remarkable similarity to the app Slingshot was reportedly based off – TapTalk. I’m not sure if TapTalk founder Onno Faber should feel complimented or concerned that both Instagram and Facebook are trying to rip him off.

He can’t be particularly perturbed, because TapTalk itself bears remarkable similarities to Bebo’s Blab, which in turn echoes the functionality of my previous favorite messaging app Context.

The era of one-click picture and video messaging has arrived and everyone is jostling for a piece of the action. Instagram, for its part, readily admitted its copycat strategy. A spokesperson told The Verge, “When Instagram itself launched four years ago, we weren’t the first photo filter app…Our tradition is that we look at a space and create a super simple, pretty experience to fit it.”

Of course, the jury is still out as to whether or not consumers have any interest in an entirely separate messaging app that removes steps without offering anything new. The convenience and speed is great, but I suspect the creators of Bolt and its predecessors will learn the hard way that people’s vanity trumps all. The perfect selfie is worth a couple extra seconds of clicking.

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