Facebook's Video on Instagram is undoubtedly riding on Vine's coattails, but is it any good? We gave the app a quick shakedown on both Android and iOS, and it's safe to say the answer is "yes." Basic video browsing and capture are about as seamless as on the Twitter-owned Vine service, with a few tweaks: Instagram won't auto-loop videos, and those 15-second clips allow for a little more creativity. It's only once you dive in that you notice the truly noteworthy differences, however, and we'll explain them in our full hands-on after the break.
Video on Instagram screenshots
If you're an Instagram veteran, the posting process will be very familiar on both platforms. While you'll have to switch recording modes to start, Instagram otherwise presents similar dialog boxes for post-shot filters and sharing locations. It's just the subtle steps along the way that make the difference. These begin with the capture screen itself: Instagram's progress bar automatically marks each break in recording, and it will let you delete the most recent segment if you flubbed the shot. You can't go back and remove clips out of sequence, though -- if you realize that you botched an early portion, you'll have to re-do the project from the start. That's better than Vine, but Instagram still won't replace a traditional video editing tool. At least you can choose a better cover frame if the default is less than flattering.
Picking filters still works much as it does with photos, although the options that don't make sense with video (crops, vintage frames and tilt-shift effects) are gone. iOS users do get a perk through a new, on-by-default Cinema image stabilization feature that's supposed to eliminate the more egregious examples of jitter. This works, although not quite as much as you'd think. We still noticed shakiness when panning videos; it just wasn't as dramatic as we saw with Cinema turned off. Android users won't be seeing this feature just yet, by the way. Instagram tells us that "handset fragmentation" is delaying its release.
Our main misgivings with Video on Instagram come after a video goes live, rather than before. There's currently no way to embed videos on the web short of plucking them from your media library and posting them through another service. Instagram also hasn't implemented any video-specific sharing: it doesn't use Flickr's video capabilities right now, while dedicated video services are likewise off-limits. We weren't expecting YouTube support when Facebook and Google aren't exactly friends, but a neutral video host like Dailymotion or Vimeo would still be helpful.
However, we already suspect that we'll like Video on Instagram more than Vine in the long run. It's not just the extra controls, filters or longer capture times -- it's the inherent nature of a service where video isn't the exclusive format. Most of the people we know post photos far more often than they do videos, which makes it that much more likely that we'll have something to see between movies. And frankly, Instagram is a little less grating than Vine: we already mentioned that it doesn't auto-loop, but it's also possible to shut auto-play off entirely. You're not exposed to a barrage of video unless you're looking for it. Video on Instagram feels both more advanced and more holistic than Vine, and Twitter will need to rethink its current strategy if it wants to offer a proper response.
Brad Molen contributed to this report.