As if we all needed another excuse to never leave Instagram, the social platform is rolling out a group video chat feature, so you can talk to your friends while you browse through your feed. Like anything, it takes getting used to, but luckily figuring out how to use Instagram group video call isn't too complicated. According to the platform, it's rolling out to all iOS and Android users, so you're going to want to catch up quickly.
With the rollout of IGTV last week and video chat this week, Instagram is really vying to be the social media platform you never have to leave. It's pretty cool, actually, considering that if you were simply FaceTiming your friends or hanging out in your regular old group text thread, you'd have to switch back and forth between apps. Now you don't have to do anything at all to scroll through Instagram and joke around with your people.
To start the video chat, all you have to do is go into your Direct inbox and tap open a message thread, according to Instagram's blog. You tap the camera icon on the right and the chat will ring your friends' phone, even if Instagram isn't open. When you're on the chat, you can minimize the video and still be able to send messages and photos to other friends in Direct (just make sure you're not talking about the people in the group chat and get mixed up), post a story, browse your feed, and do everything else you do on Instagram.
Video chat is the most fun for groups — especially for that member of the squad who doesn't have an iPhone and can't get in on FaceTime. (Which will also soon have video group chats.) You can video chat with up for four people at a time, which is the perfect amount, and the video expands to make sure everyone can fit.
If you have a group message thread and see that the camera icon is blue, you can just tap the icon to join the group chat, so no one has to reinvite you or anything. You can video chat for as long as you want and then just hit the red phone icon (at the bottom of the screen) when you're done and hang up.
According to Instagram's blog, you can video chat anyone who have an active Direct thread with, which is kind of nice. People you haven't already chatted with can't just randomly try to video call you. If you don't want notifications from someone, you can mute them. Obviously, anyone you have blocked won't be able to video group chat you. You can control what kind of notifications you receive about video chat in your settings by tapping on the little gear icon.
You're likely already using group video chats on other social platforms. Snapchat introduced the group video feature back in April and Facebook Messenger has been hosting the chats since 2016. As previously mentioned, Apple announced a FaceTime group feature that would allow for up to 32 people to talk at once earlier this month. And there are also numerous standalone apps, such as Houseparty, that also support group video calls. As reported by Mashable, though, Instagram just passed 1 billion users and no other platform has those kind of numbers. So it might be late to the group video chat game, but it will likely catch on pretty quickly.
It's sort of ironic that group video chats have caught on so much, given that, anecdotally at least, so many people complain about actually using the phone and leaving voicemails, preferring to text or even leave voice memos for each other. You can't replace how much fun it is to see your friends and families' faces. Social media just got a whole lot more social.