the two features as "new ways to share in the moment" in its announcement blog post today. Live video has launched just ten days after Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom publicly confirmed
its existence. It's part of Instagram Stories
, the "moment-sharing" feature launched in August and now used by over 100 million people every day.
You can start live video within Instagram by swiping right from the feed view to open the camera. Tapping or swiping to "Live" in the camera options at the bottom of the screen and then pressing "Start Live Video" will enable livestream recording. You can stream for up to one hour at a time.
When someone you're following is streaming live, a special "Live" badge will be added to their profile photo in the stories bar at the top of the Instagram feed. Tapping the story will go straight to the livestream. You can interact with the video
with the like button and comments. If you're the one streaming, you have the option to pin a comment for everyone to see or disable the feature.
Instagram's entry into live video comes amid growing interest in the medium from all the major social networks. Parent company Facebook has reported six times more engagement
with live video compared to pre-recorded content. Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and smaller providers have also noticed that people are more interested in real-time events, a trend that Instagram has moved quickly to capitalise on.
"Live video on Instagram Stories helps you connect with your friends and followers right now," said Instagram
. "When you're done, your live story disappears from the app so you can feel more comfortable sharing anything, anytime."
Alongside live video, Instagram has also announced a new feature for Instagram Direct. You can now send disappearing ephemeral photos and videos to groups and friends. Taking a photo in the camera view and then tapping the arrow icon will let you select a group or friends to send it to. The message will disappear from the recipients' inbox as soon as it's been viewed.
"Now you can send disappearing photos and videos directly to groups and individual friends in a spontaneous, pressure-free way," said Instagram
. "Today's update keeps regular direct messages the same and adds a more visual way to connect with your closest friends — all in one convenient place."
Disappearing messages takes Instagram one step closer to being a complete Snapchat clone. The launch of Stories
revealed the extent of its ambitions to rival the ephemeral messaging client. With disappearing messages, Instagram now offers all of Snapchat's core features alongside its own. It uniquely blends the ephemeral nature of Snapchat with the permanent profile view and photo feed.
Snapchat itself is showing no signs of slowing down though. The company recently launched its new Spectacles wearable
and remains popular with its key audience of 17 to 24-year-olds in a way other social networks aren't replicating. Instagram appears to be betting on its combination of spontaneity and permanence as a way of appealing to this demographic.
The new features will be rolling out to the Instagram app on iOS, Android and Windows 10 "in the coming weeks." The company said the update offers "more ways to share freely and in the moment," even if it's largely copying the success of Instagram's primary rival.