From yesterday (still catching up after a short vacation), Instagram is preparing to roll out higher resolution uploads on mobile devices. Vlad Savov writes at The Verge:
An Instagram spokesperson tells us that the company started “gradually rolling out 1080 across iOS and Android” last week, meaning that most people should already be seeing the higher-resolution images in the mobile app. Alas, Instagram on the desktop remains a second-class citizen, as Instagram says that “right now we are focused on mobile, with no plans to share on web.”
The often-derided (but also iconic) low-res nature of Instagram was instrumental five years ago to make uploads feel fast, but, given the progressive availability of 4G networks these days, the time is right for Instagram to bump up the resolution a little bit.
From the Instagram Engineering blog, a fascinating look at how Instagram used machine learning to understand the meaning, association, and usage of emoji by their users.
Having learned a good representation for emoji, we can begin to ask questions about similarity. Namely, for a given emoji, what English words are semantically similar? For each emoji, we compute the “angle” (equivalently the cosine similarity) between it and other words. Words with a small angle are said to be similar and provide a natural, English-language translation for that emoji.
The post contains examples of what people mean by popular emoji and a semantic map of symbols. Pretty incredible data analysis.
Fascinating read by Jenna Wortham on The Shade Room, an Instagram-first publication:
Angie explained to me that Instagram perfectly suited her vision for The Shade Room: image-centric and interactive. For her purposes, Instagram was the equivalent of WordPress. When she started the feed a year ago, her goal was to accumulate 10,000 followers in the first year. She accomplished that in only two weeks. Angie started by posting about people at the bottom of the celebrity hierarchy (minor reality stars, mostly) and worked her way up to bigger names, building her loyalties slowly. Eventually, readers started sending her tips and videos via Instagram’s direct-messaging feature. Now, The Shade Room has more than half a million followers on Instagram alone.
I wouldn't recommend Instagram over WordPress to anyone, but it's interesting to see how a business has been built on top of this.
Fun new app by Instagram, designed to create photo collages. From the company's blog:
Today we’re announcing Layout from Instagram, a new app that lets you easily combine multiple photos into a single image. It’s fun, it’s simple and it gives you a new way to flex your creativity.
After Hyperlapse, Instagram continues to build dedicated utilities without cluttering the main Instagram experience (which has already gotten more complex over the years). I'd argue that photo collages are more mainstream than slow-motion videos, and Layout seems to lack the impressive technical feats of Hyperlapse. It's polished, intuitive, and I like how it simplifies controls for resizing and mirroring, but it doesn't showcase any breakthrough technology. It doesn't need to, though, considering the popularity of slightly more complicated collage apps such as Diptic.
Nathan Ingraham writes at The Verge:
Layout is a determinedly simple app — choose your pictures, choose your layout, and make a few quick adjustments. That's all it does, and its designers are happy to admit it. Even as Instagram's flagship app has gotten more flexible, adding more granular editing tools to the filters it first became known for, the company wants to keep advanced techniques like Hyperlapse and collages in their own apps.
Curious to see if this will take off (my friends will be a fascinating testing ground).
Very early on in the development process of Hyperlapse, we decided that we wanted an interactive slider for selecting the level of time lapse. We wanted to provide instant feedback that encouraged experimentation and felt effortless, even when complex calculations were being performed under the hood.
This is a technical, but highly fascinating look at the technology Instagram used in Hyperlapse. Not as advanced as Microsoft's research, but impressive for a mobile device.
Earlier today, Instagram released Hyperlapse, a Universal app to create time-lapse videos and share them to Facebook and Instagram. You can read Wired's story on the creation of Hyperlapse and check out The Verge's test video. I've spent a few hours having fun with Hyperlapse and creating time-lapse videos around Viterbo, and I've come away impressed with the refreshing focus and simplicity of the app.
Instagram's first major update after iOS 7 doesn't reimagine the app but brings edge-to-edge photos:
In this update you will find that we’ve increased the size of photos and videos in your feed so that they expand to the edges of your screen. We’re also happy to say that increased size means increased resolution, so photos and videos will be clearer and more vibrant than ever.
Not surprising considering what Facebook did, and what other big players opted for. I would love to know if Instagram saw usage of filters in the app decrease after the release of iOS 7 because of Apple's new Camera app.
John Pavlus of Co.Design on Instagram's Cinema mode:
Stabilization is the "filters" of mobile video: the one-touch (or in Instagram’s case, no-touch) killer feature that makes your mundane "moments"--your life, really--look and feel like art, and you the artist. Instagram’s video feature is usually compared to Vine, but it really has more in common with Paper--another fantasy-driven art-making app that transforms your homely scrawls into graceful sketches.
[via Ellis Hamburger]
Today, Instagram has officially introduced video. With a new camera interface, users can now take videos up to 15 seconds long, choose between 13 custom filters, and post quick videos alongside photos in the main Instagram feed. Videos can be viewed on the web and through the just-updated iPhone app; third-party apps with access to the Instagram API, like Tweetbot, will have to be updated to support inline video viewing.
Video on Instagram is obviously reminiscent of Vine, Twitter's service for 6-second videos. While there was no explicit mention of Vine at Instagram's press event, it was clear that founder Kevin Systrom was presenting a product aimed at doing mobile video sharing better than Vine -- which has been growing but isn't quite as mainstream as Instagram is. For the past couple of years, finding the "Instragram for video" has been a recurring theme on the Internet, and I find it curious that Instagram decided to tackle this just when Vine was starting to take off.
The 4.0 update to the iOS app is nicely built and put together. I like how video capture sits right next to the standard camera interface (you can tap a button or swipe to access it), and I also appreciate the options to delete clips (portions of a video) and choose a cover thumbnail -- two features that I always wanted to see in Vine. Instagram is setting a minimum duration for videos, which is displayed through segments in the video interface's progress bar.
I do wonder if, with the addition of video, some of Instagram's immediacy has been lost. Three years ago, when I first reviewed Instagram for iPhone, I predicted how it would become a new paradigm for camera apps. While the Instagram team has tried to keep the new experience as simple as possible, there is an intrinsic complexity about video that will likely be frowned upon by Instagram purists -- this is exemplified by Instagram's approach to video editing, which only allows you to delete entire clips and not individual frames. And Instagram's upload speed, a marquee tenet of photo sharing, will inevitably be affected by videos.
Overall, from what I've seen so far, I think Instagram for video is polished and nice -- an obvious addition perhaps, but it'll be popular in the short term. It'll be interesting to see how much Instagram's nature and community will change with videos.