Social distancing is the new normal. At least for the time-being during the coronavirus outbreak of 2020. People are confined to their homes in isolation. They are looking for ways to connect with their friends and relatives from home. Instagram saw this need and expedited its release of their new Co-Watching feature that allows you and your Instagram friends to watch videos and Instagram posts together.
What Is Co-Watching?
Co-watching is the digital equivalent of handing someone your phone so they can view something you are enjoying with you. People have been passing their phones around to all of their friends since the beginning of the smartphone era. But now we can’t share phones or gather around one person’s device to enjoy the experience together.
This innovation makes it possible for you to share favorite posts with a friend and video chat about them in the same app. You and your friends can laugh at funny videos together or read posts and discuss them face to face without ever leaving Instagram.
Start a Co-Watching Session
When you find a post you want to share with your friends or family, follow these steps to get the session started.
1. Open messages by clicking on the arrow in the top right corner.
2. Tap the video camera icon in the top-right corner.
3. Type the name of a friend to add to the chat in the search box.
4. Tap the plus sign that appears.
5. You can also scroll down and select people you want to include by tapping the circles next to their names. A checkmark will display in the circle when you have chosen that person.
6. When you have added everyone you want to chat with, tap Start in the upper-right corner.
Once you are in the video chat, a photo icon will show up in the bottom-left corner of the screen. This icon is for accessing the Co-Watching feature. Tap it to get started.
From there, you can choose from Instagram photos and videos you have liked or saved. You can also share from the Explore screen.
If you want to chat with more than one person while using Co-Watching, you have to be sure that everyone in the chat has permission to see a post. If even one person can’t access the post, you can’t share it in the chat.
The Future of Co-Watching
Even after social distancing has passed, the Co-Watching feature on Instagram will continue. But it will have to compete with Squad. Squad is an app that allows users to share their entire cell phone screen while chatting. Instagram limits what you can share to posts that you liked or saved and suggested posts from the explore screen. Squad makes it possible for you to share from any app by sharing the screen.
Another reason Co-Watching will continue in the future is to help better connect people, even once we can finally leave our homes. Social media life may seem like we’re connecting with more people, but in reality, scrolling through an Instagram or Facebook feed is an isolating experience, not a social one. Co-Watching will help us feel less lonely.
If you are not an Instagram user, there are also other ways you can watch videos online with friends.