At an event at its Menlo Park headquarters on Thursday, Facebook announced Video on Instagram for iPhone and Android, which lets you shoot 15-second videos, apply filters, and share them to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other sites.
Shooting an Instagram video is quite a bit more complex than taking an Instagram photo. It all starts with the camera button, but instead of taking a photo, you tap a video button off to the right side. From here, you hold down the shutter button to start shooting video. You can pick up your finger to stop shooting, then tap and hold the shutter button to start shooting video again, just like on Vine. If you're not happy with the shot you just took, a conveniently placed delete button lets you backtrack and get rid of the latest shot. The longest video you can shoot is 15-seconds, whereas Vine limits your videos to six seconds.
Once you've finished shooting, tapping Next brings you to the filters screen, where you can choose from one of thirteen brand new filters, each of which has a different affect from film noir to "golden hour" sunset. A new button that looks like a parentheses-encased camera activates "Cinema" mode, which crops in on your video while using image stabilization to make any sudden movements less jarring. The effect is subtle, but appreciated.
Next, you can scrub through your video's frames to choose a "Cover Frame," the still image that appears when you share your video to other sites, or on the Instagram news feed before your video starts playing. Finally, the Share screen looks pretty familiar — it's a button-for-button clone of the screen you see when sharing an Instagram photo. You can add a location and caption, and then share the video to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare.
Back in the News Feed, video for Instagram works a lot like Vine. When you scroll past a video, it immediately starts playing, but only once — it doesn't loop over and over like on Vine. One tap on a video stops it, and two taps lets you like the video. In our tests over Wi-Fi, videos loaded instantly, while videos over 4G loaded quickly but not instantaneously. Vine employs a variety of techniques to customize video streams for your device and connection, and we'd expect Instagram to do the same.
Video for Instagram is a great feature addition for Instagram fans, but after a few minutes of testing the feature, it feels bloated compared to Vine. It's still quite simple to share a video using Instagram, but whereas it takes just a few taps to post a Vine, it takes several to post a video to Instagram. It's a minor nitpick, but simplicity is arguably what helped Vine finally bring mobile video sharing to the masses. Yet, with over 130 million monthly active users already using Instagram, its video feature has a big head start towards catching on. And yes, it will also likely be the subject of controversy for weeks (if not years) whether 15 seconds is "better" than 6 seconds. So what's the final result? Get ready for an onslaught of brunch videos, from Vine and Instagram.