Instagram recently released a major update, finally adding video to the popular photo sharing service. Coming months behind Twitter’s Vine app, Facebook’s Instagram is trying to gain some lost momentum.
There are some pretty striking differences between Instagram and Vine, though. Is it enough to claw back ground swallowed up by Vine? We’ll have a look after the jump.
At Last, Instagram For Your Videos
The process for creating an Instagram video isn’t all that different from creating an Instagram image and not that dissimilar from creating a Vine video, for that matter. After updating Instagram (or downloading it for the first time) you’ll see that next to the icon to snap a picture there’s now a new video camera icon. Tap that to start creating a new Instagram video.
Everything inside the square is getting recorded, and you have fifteen seconds of airtime to work with. You’re under no obligation to use all fifteen seconds, though; tap Next to move on with your video at any time. Tap and hold to record, and release to stop. This will feel familiar to users of some of the other social video apps, but it may be a bit awkward to people who’ve only ever created videos with the default iOS Camera app. However, it’s simple to create cuts, just by holding and releasing the record button — no editing required.
When you’ve got your fifteen seconds or less, move on to the fifteen filters. No, it wouldn’t be Instagram without filters, and I have to admit, this is what I’ve been waiting for. Instagram assures us that these are all-new filters, and they certainly have new names, but I’m not far enough down the Instagram rabbit hole to judge how different these video-only options are. They’re in the app and that’s enough for me. If you’re one of the #nofilter fans, that’s okay too, and you can post your video as is.
There’s a last stop before you’re done: Instagram wants you to choose a frame from your video to serve as a cover photo. Videos won’t always autoplay, and choosing a cover frame allows you to set your video up as a regular Instagram image for all of your friends who aren’t up to dealing with video shenanigans right now. Once that’s done, add a caption to your video and share it as you would an image. If you’ve connected your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr accounts, Instagram can post your new video there, too.
Instagram vs. Vine
There are a few features here that put Instagram ahead of Vine. As you may have noticed already, you get a full fifteen seconds of video with Instagram, but Vine only gives you six. There are pros for both I suppose, but I’ve certainly felt constrained by the six-second Vine limit and Instagram doesn’t require that you use up the whole fifteen. Even if you do decide to blow the roof off and use those seconds up, fifteen seconds is still short enough that it’s not getting in anyone’s way on a Facebook or Twitter timeline.
Instagram really wins when it comes to autoplay and looping. Instagram doesn’t loop, and it doesn’t have to autoplay. If I’m not quick enough in swiping through my Vine timeline, the same recording will play over and over again, turning even the best video into a repetitive, grating irritant. Instagram’s video’s won’t loop, so you’ll only see anything once, unless you replay it on purpose. When scrolling through Vine, I feel like I’m steeling myself against whatever video is going to start shouting at me next, but it doesn’t have to be that way in Instagram; hop into Instagram’s settings and swipe all the way down to turn off autoplay.
I’ve been sort of longing for a social video app with filters that the rest of my friends actually use. That’s the problem with apps that work as their own micro social networks — you often find you’re quite lonely there all by yourself. With Instagram, most of your friends are already on board. There’s lots of interaction built in once you connect with all of your friends, and it’s super easy to send your Instagram videos wherever else you like to hang out.
Vine has really gained a lot of popularity in a short time, but Instagram looks poised to cut into that. One of the attractions for casual Vine users like me has been all of the great Vine artists who create amazing six-second videos, and only time will tell if the same sort of creative community will shift to Instagram. Still, Instagram is familiar and has the built in user base. With longer videos, filters, and, let’s admit it, a less obnoxious timeline, Instagram’s going to be the place to be for social video sharing.