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.