Starting Today, You Can Finally Try Out This New Instagram Feature

Beginning today, Instagram Stories' new Live tool is rolling out to everyone in the U.S. To try it out for yourself, just toggle from "Normal" camera mode to "Live" within Stories. At 12:45 p.m. today, Instagram will be hosting its own special live celebration.

This article was originally published on November 21, 2016.

Instagram is very quickly becoming the place to go for everything. Its newest major release: live streaming.

The app is following Facebook's lead and launching live video within Instagram Stories. You'll be able to easily record live footage and see who's watching and commenting. The process is similar to Facebook Live, which isn't a total surprise, since Facebook is Instagram's parent company. Will Instagram be the new place to discover viral videos like Chewbacca Mom? It's possible. However, unlike on Facebook, live videos on Instagram Stories will disappear when you finish recording, so this seems slightly less likely.

Instagram is also upgrading its direct messaging platform. Instead of just sending text, you'll be able to send individual friends and friend groups photos and videos that will disappear after a matter of seconds. Yes, this is almost identical to Snapchat. However, one major benefit of disappearing photos and videos on Instagram, is that when you share with a group, you can see everyone's responses in one thread. This way, your photos can initiate a larger group chat, rather than just a one-on-one conversation.

Live video will roll out to select users today and become available to everyone in coming weeks, but the new features for direct messaging are available now. Click through to check out how both will look in-app.

Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
To send a photo to a friend via direct message, snap your shot and draw or decorate it like you might for a story.
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Then, just like in Snapchat, you'll have the option to send your story to individual friends, rather than posting it to your feed.
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
You can also tap the "Create" button in the upper right-hand corner to put together a group thread within Instagram Direct.
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
So, yes, you can make crazy faces…
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
…and subject your whole crew to looking at them. You'll also see when friends view your photos and screenshot them, just like you can in Snapchat.
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
To start a live video, just toggle over from the "Normal" photo tab in Instagram Stories to "Live."
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
As you record, you'll see who is tuning in and be able to read any comments, just like you can in Facebook Live. Your live feed can run for up to an hour.
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
In the same upper bar where you see friends' stories, you'll see who is currently live.
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
In your "Explore" tab, stories that are live will have a special pink tag and you'll be able to select "Top Live" for a look at what's trending.
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Within "Top Live Videos" you'll see a grid with images of the videos and their number of viewers. And, of course, you can click on any that look interesting to you for a closer look.