Instagram, competing hot on the heels of other live video broadcasting apps, is enhancing its video streaming service with a feature that it hopes will bring out both those of its 800 million users who might be too shy to use the feature on their own, and those who can't resist an opportunity to be more social: today the company announced that it would let users who run live video streams add guests into their videos.
The rollout, part of the company's latest update, follows a test that Instagram started in August as part of its gradual expansion of live video and messages, which first launched a little under a year ago.
The feature works by letting people who are streaming a video to add anyone who is watching the video at that moment. When a person gets added, they join you in a separate window below yours on the screen. For now, it looks like you can only add one person in at a time (and remove that person to add in another).
If you are on Instagram and you have two friends who are using the live video + guest feature, they will show up as two circles stacked together in the stories status bar. These videos, as with regular live videos, can be discarded after they run, or saved to live on as stories, which can in turn then be shared to Facebook.
The logic behind adding guests is clear for Instagram: not only does it give users who might hesitate to use the video feature a little more confidence if they can have a friend with them, but it potentially adds more engagement to the mix, since the status icon for a live broadcast gets sent out the the friend networks of both the video host and guest.
It also lays the groundwork for a different kind of interaction on the video front. With guests, you are essentially creating dialogues and ways for more people to interact together: that implies conversations and perhaps new kinds of videos getting created, beyond the basic 'selfie' style that has dominated the medium of mobile video for most of its life.
While Stories and live video appeared to be created as direct responses to the likes of Snapchat and Periscope (among others), Instagram, by virtue of its massive audience, has found a lot of usage for both. It says that millions are using the features today.
More to come.
- This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.