After Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom confirmed earlier this month that the photo sharing service will introduce a live video, today the feature has begun to roll out. Many expected it would launch soon, after the feature leaked in Russia, where a user found out about the feature while testing a beta version of the Instagram app.
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Live videos will appear in the same banner as Instragram Stories at the top of your feed, but will be circled in red and have 'LIVE' written across them to help distinguish them from Stories. To start a live video you'll have to go to the same video screen to record a story, but choose the Live option instead. Instagram will send notifications to some of your friends who have shown a previous interest in Live video, instead of telling all your followers you're now broadcasting.
But what sets Instagram Live video apart from the likes of Facebook Live and Periscope, is that users can only watch Live video while it's being recorded live. You won't be able to replay a Live video later in the day if you missed it first time.
If you want to watch some Live video but none of your friends happen to be broadcasting, the Explore tab will be expanded to include Live content from users Instagram thinks you'll be interested in based on your previous viewing habits.
Instagram is also introducing a second new feature that revolves around Live video and the Direct Messaging service. You'll now be able to send Live video to chosen friends and groups, in a similar vein to Snapchat. Any videos sent this way can be viewed once, and replayed once. After that, they disappear forever.
The new Live video features are being rolled out today to both iOS and Android versions of the Instagram app and could take a couple of weeks to reach every one of the 300 million users.