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Instagram Video Calls Could Doom Snapchat

Instagram, not happy with dominating Snapchat (Instagram Stories has 300 million daily users, beating Snapchat's 187 million count), is coming for your calls.

Or at least that's what currently-inactive code unearthed from its Android and iOS apps suggests, according to new reports pointing to phone calls and video chat features in the pipeline.

The first evidence of these new additions to Instagram came in January from a WhatsApp industry blog WABetaInfo, which found icons related to video calling in the app. Then, yesterday (Mar. 1) an eagle-eyed sleuth named Ishan Agarwal tipped TechCrunch off to another set of icons, this time found in the Android Application Package (aka APK).

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And then Guilherme Rambo, the software developer who became a code detective when he dug up the iPhone X's design and Face Unlock features from the leaked HomePod firmware, found full screens that seem to confirm this new feature.

The first is a setup screen that's asking for microphone access to enable "Video Chat on Instagram" and the second looks like a framework for the user interface, featuring mute, photo, switch camera and contact photo icons.

If this comes to fruition, it will be the latest way Instagram's copied a Snapchat feature, as that app's messaging section includes calls and video chats. That's on top of the default messaging methods in all apps, but since users spend so much time in Instagram already (with its Direct Messages being a popular means of texting these days), this could make the app stickier than ever before.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is an editor writer at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and Apple. Prior to joining Tom's Guide — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and looking for the headphone adapter that he unplugged from his iPhone.