Facebook is following in Twitter’s footsteps. After adding support for hashtags last week, yesterday the social networking giant announced its popular photo-sharing app, Instagram, would be getting a new video-creation feature. The Instagram Video feature is similar to Twitter’s Vine app, but puts an Insta-spin on shooting and editing super-short videos.
Facebook purchased Instagram last year for $1 billion and saw its user numbers quickly rise to over 130 million active monthly users. No one was clamoring for the simple photo-editing app to gain video features, but as Vine has gained 13 million users since its launch in January its clear Facebook wanted to get in on the video craze.
The Instagram Video feature is supported in version 4.0 of the Instagram app and is available for both iOS and Android users. Users can update their Instagram app or download it from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Instagram is currently not available for Windows Phone.
Instagram Video: What is It?
In short, Instagram’s video feature allows users to shoot up to 15 seconds of video, add a filter, choose a frame as a featured image and share the content across multiple networks.
The video feature is accessible by clicking the video camera icon to the right next to the camera shutter button. To capture video users hold down the video button. It’s possible to capture one 15 second shot, or users can take multiple shots that automatically tie together by taking the finger off the capture button and then replacing it when the second shot it set up. Instagram Video also has a delete option,which allows users to delete the last clip they shot and pick up from where the video left off. Users can also shoot video using both the front and rear-facing camera.
When using the video feature, TechnologyGuide found it was an intuitive process and filming and deleting clips was easy. Clips can be as short as one second or as long as 15 seconds. Finished videos can also fall into the same time frame.
For those users key on quality, Instagram also claims to offer a digital image stabilization feature called Cinema, which should improve shaky videos. The feature is located on the screen with the filters, but when TG was testing out the new service, the Cinema button never appeared, thus TG was never given the option to stabilize video.
It wouldn’t be Instagram if users weren’t able to alter the images with filters. There are 13 available filters to throw on the video. When sifting through filters, the video will play, which gives users the opportunity to see how the filter will look on different shots within the video, which is a nice addition.
Users can also select a specific frame of the video to display as the featured image. Users can then write a caption, add on the necessary – or unnecessary – hashtags, and then share the video to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare or via email. Not surprisingly, Instagram videos are not embedded in Tweets, meaning users who see a tweeted link of the video will have to open it in a web browser. However, the video are embedded in Facebook and Tumblr. Users can also add videos to their photo map, but tagging friends is not supported. Once a video has been shared, it will be automatically saved to a user’s photostream.
The video will automatically play if it’s stopped on when scrolling through the Instagram stream.
What is It Not?
While InstaVid offers many features, there are some key things missing that seem an easy fix, but would drastically improve the experience. First off, there’s no zooming capability. Digital zooming isn’t possible when using the photo feature either, but users can zoom in after the fact. Especially when it comes to shooting video, being able to digitally zoom would add a wealth of opportunities. There is also no support to import video already recorded on a user’s smartphone, meaning users cannot import videos into InstaVid. It all has to be shot through the app. This capability is available in the photo feature, and would be a nice addition to video, assuming in many instances, like a concert for example, users may want to shoot video and then Instagram it later.
Videos cannot be exported or embedded into a webpage or other service.
Insta- taken from the word instant, probably isn’t the best way to describe the video feature. One thing the video feature isn’t is quick. Even if a user takes just one 15 second shot and doesn’t add a filter or choose a featured frame to display, it will take at least two minutes before the video is created and shared. Most users will likely want to shoot multiple clips, sift through filters and choose a frame to feature, which could take anywhere from five to ten minutes depending on the amount of detail added.
It’s also not bug free. It should be noted TG tested the feature on an aging iPhone 4 that doesn’t perform like it did in its heyday, but all the performance issues can’t be blamed on the smartphone. We also experienced some bugs with a Samsung Galaxy S4. There were significant lags when switching between the video capture to the filter to the frame screens. When flipping through the filters, the video often stalled or stopped and had to be restarted. It also took a long time for the frames to load and the app froze and crashed multiple times while using it.
Instagram vs. Vine
Twitter’s Vine app was the first to offer users the ability to create quick videos. While it seems the two services are the same thing, and Facebook may have copied the service. They are actually dramatically different and play to different user bases.
Vine allows users to create six second videos will no editing features. Capturing multiple shots is still supported, but the resulting videos take on more of an animated GIF form than a put-together video. While Vine users watch the video’s in their stream they loop around, adding to their GIF-like nature. Vine’s user base is more artistic and takes on the challenge of the minimal features to create interesting videos.
Based on what TG has seen in its Instagram stream on day one, Instagram Video users are more likely to stick to what they know best – creating videos of eating dinner, walking down the street and playing with their cats.