Simplicity. That’s the biggest reason for Instagram‘s success. There are apps that offer more filters (Pixlromatic, Vintique) and far more editing and touching-up options (PhotoShop Express and PhotoShop touch). But still people flock to Instagram, simply because it does not confuse one with too many options and does just a few things but does them well. And now, it has moved into the territory of video as well, letting you record, filter and upload videos of up to fifteen seconds of duration. And all this without a hint of a price tag yet.
You can get the video-flavored version of Instagram by downloading the latest version of the app from either Google Play or the iTunes App Store. The download is a shade under 15 MB for iOS and 16 MB for Android. And no, the app remains stubbornly designed for phones – you can use it on a tablet but will have to put up with a fair bit of “stretching.” On first glance, not too much seems to have changed – you can log in using your Instagram account, open a new one, or just use your Facebook credentials to log in. The landing page will still you the content uploaded by you and the people you follow – hey, Instagram is a social network too. Peek a little carefully at those pictures, however, and you will notice that some of them have small camera-like icons in their corners – these are videos. Short ones, though, but complete with the filters that make Instagram what it is.
And if you want to shoot videos of your own, you can now do so from within the app (no, you cannot put effects and filters on existing videos, unlike in the case of stills). Tapping on the camera icon on the lower toolbar will give you access to a still camera, your gallery (stills only) and a video camera. It is business as usual through the still camera – you take a picture, add filters and frames, do a little tweaking and upload it. What’s new is the video option. As we said before, it lets you upload videos of up to fifteen seconds duration. You have to keep the movie camera button pressed for the duration of the recording, although you have the option of completing your recording in segments – you can record for four seconds, pause (take your finger off the movie camera icon), record again for another five seconds…all the way until you hit the holy mark of fifteen seconds or less, if you wish. You can even remove some segments of your video – but in a strict chronological order only. So if you shoot a fifteen second video comprising four segments, you cannot remove segments one and four – you will have to proceed chronologically, removing segments four, three, two, and so on. We would advise you to record in portrait orientation, because if you do so in landscape, you will end up with a tilted photograph – and no there is no editing option on-board to set its orientation right.
You then move on to the filters, and there are thirteen of them, which honestly looked pretty similar to each other, separated by gentle nuances rather than radical features. Those on iOS will have the option to choose image stabilization to remove some of the jerks (no joy for Android users, alas. Not yet). That done, you choose a frame that can best act as a cover (the still image that will be seen when someone sees your video) and then upload your video. You can also opt to share it on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and via e-mail if you wish. No, there are no frame by frame editing options, or even any basic cropping options. You shoot, filter and upload.
Mind you, it is not always smooth sailing. We found videos taking a fair deal of time to upload – a 15 second video was taking about 15-20 minutes to go online on a 3G connection, and about 8-10 minutes on a Wi-Fi one, which is a tad long, considered these are not HD. And yes, holding down a touch button for shooting video is not very convenient – we often found shooting pausing the moment our finger’s pressure even lightened a bit on the button. Still, all said and done, we must confess we found ourselves liking the simple approach that Instagram had brought to videos. And its fifteen second duration certainly allows us to capture more than Vine’s six second limit. We are just hoping some more editing and shooting options are added to it in the coming days, No, we cannot see too many Vine users migrating to Instagram because of its video feature, but a lot of Instagram users will certainly use the video option just because it is so simple to use.
And as we said at the very beginning: Simplicity. That’s the biggest reason for Instagram’s success. Definitely worth a try. Just make sure you have lots of bandwidth to spare!