South Africa is the first to get Bolt – the new Snapchat rival from Instagram

Instagram Bolt is the Snapchat rival app launches in South Africa first

The not-so-secret is out –  Instagram has officially unveiled their Snapchat rival app known as Bolt. The app, which has leaked online, was no surprise but Instagram did shock the world (or at least the USA)by announcing that the app is only available in South Africa, Singapore and New Zealand. According to Instagram, it had picked these three regions because of the high Instagram usage and high penetration of Android Ice Cream Sandwich (minimum spec of Android).

Note to iOS users: it has been reported that If you have a US iTunes account, you will not be able to download Bolt !

Of course I had to grab it immediately to check out what it can do. From my limited play with the app,it seams very basic and “hard work”. The finding people to Bolt with is not so easy as with the other apps and requires manually inputting their number

Setting up Bolt

  • You first head over to and click on either the Android or the iOS link.
  • Once you download the app, you sign up with your phone number just as you do with WhatsApp and Facebook’s Sligshot. You do not need to be a Facebook or an Instagram user.
  • Once it has verified that you indeed entered the correct number you need to set up a profile pic and  then Bolt looks up contacts in your address book to see if anyone else uses Bolt. Those that do, make it onto your Favourites list. Bolt doesn’t link, at this stage, to Instagam or Facebook so those contacts and followers remain off-limits.
  • Bolt is now ready for action!

Instagram Bolt is the Snapchat rival app launches in South Africa first

Taking the Shot

  • When you fire up the app you are shown a screen that uses the rear-facing camera. Unlike Instagram that has the shutter button at the bottom of the screen, with Bolt the friends you have listed are shown across the bottom.
  • To send them a photo, simply tap on their faces.
  • If you want to send someone a video, tap and hold.
  • Before you send your Bolt, you can overlay some text on the image – you can not place the text in specific spot and it is only available in one font and in white only.

What you need to know

  • With Bolt, you can not upload images from your camera gallery. You snap and share.This means that you have to have data connection of some sort to use the app and cant shoot pic now to Bolt later.
  • You can only share your photo with one person at a time. So if you want to share with more people,then you have to re-shoot and share multiple times.
  • You can switch the camera to front-facing for the selfie shot
  • There is a flash option that you can enable or disable for more light.
  • When you get a Bolt,  you will get a notification in the top of the app. Once you see the Bolt and swipe it away it will be deleted.
  • You can reply with a Bolt of your own, or send a text reply which it overlaid over the Bolt you received. The original Bolt is blurred.
  • You can retract a Bolt you sent within a couple of second after you send it (i.e.. drunken Bolts to the ex can be undone if you react quickly). This is done with a “shake to unsend” and will also prompt you to save your Bolt to your local gallery.


  • Just like WhatsApp, anyone can add your number to their contact and start to Bolt you. Only BBM requires an acceptance of the contact before they can begin to communicate. There is a blocking option for contacts that keep Bolting you but there is no option to keep your profile private. You can be kept of the search facility that doesn’t allow people to search for you by your number.
  • Messages are deleted after 30 days from the Instagram servers.

Instagram Bolt is the Snapchat rival app launches in South Africa firstScreenshot_2014-07-30-01-11-19



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