Instagram's Co-Watching feature is the latest video-chatting option for millions who are trying to connect with friends and family while quarantined.
- Instagram has launched a new feature called Co-Watching that allows users to share photos and videos over video chat to watch together.
- The new feature has rolled out globally, and became available to US users on Tuesday, Instagram told Business Insider.
- Instagram has long been testing this feature — it was spotted back in April 2019 — but the company decided to make it available amid the coronavirus pandemic to offers users more ways to "come together right now" during the time of quarantine and work from home.
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Instagram now allows users to share posts with each other over video calls as people search for more ways to connect online as the coronavirus outbreak rages on.
The new feature is called Co-Watching, and adds onto Instagram's existing video-calling capabilities. Instagram announced the feature Tuesday, and told Business Insider it sped up the launch of Co-Watching in order to meet the ongoing demand for virtually connecting with friends and family as more people are told to stay at home and "social distance" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We decided to make it available soon so we could offer more ways for people to come together right now," an Instagram spokesperson said.
The demand for remote workplace and video-calling apps has spiked in recent weeks as an increasing amount of people are spending time at home and in isolation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease. People have been discovering more innovative ways and alternatives to connect with each other while still maintaining social distancing.
Millions have been ordered to work from home, schools and colleges have been moved online, and cities have been placed on lockdown in order to "flatten the curve" and prevent coronavirus' escalation.
Instagram's testing of the the feature was first spotted back in April 2019 by Jane Manchun Wong, a hacker known for digging up unreleased features and sharing them on Twitter. It's unclear when Instagram was originally planning to release the product, and how much it expedited the release in order to serve users during the coronavirus outbreak.
Instagram told Business Insider that the Co-Watching feature had already been available to many users globally, except for in the United States, where it started rolling out on Tuesday.
The Co-Watching feature can be accessed by anyone participating in a video chat on Instagram — which can be started by tapping on the video camera icon in the top-right corner of any existing Direct Message. Once you're in the video chat, a photo icon should appear in the bottom-left corner of the screen to access the Co-Sharing feature. From there, you'll be able to choose from Instagram photos and videos you've liked and bookmarked, as well as suggested posts, to share with the group you're video-chatting.