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From the very first version, Instagram became a fixture on our home screen and throughout our days, and in the nearly three years since, we've used it constantly to share a small window into our daily lives – and peer into those of our pals, as well. Vine essentially used the Instagram template to deliver a similar social sharing experience with video earlier this year, but with the new 4.0 release, Instagram one-ups its biggest competitor by adding its own video-sharing ability, with many additional features giving it a notable advantage.
As with Vine, simplicity is the driving force for Instagram's streaming video sharing service, but there's a bit more room to breathe and customize here. Clips can be up to 15 seconds in length – two and a half times longer than with Vine – which is helpful for fleshing out small vignettes without a single clip dominating anyone's time or requiring ample loading times. And shooting's a smarter process, to boot, as you can delete individual segments (for videos shot in spurts) if you mess something up, rather than starting over from scratch. Meanwhile, an effective video stabilization option will zoom in closer on the image to ease up on stuttering, though you can switch it off to have a wider view of the action. Once completed, a video can be adorned with one of 13 video-specific filters, plus you can pick a still image from the span to be the cover image, giving you the ability to choose a more compelling teaser than the initial frame.
Luckily, in building upon the basic core of Vine, Instagram's video functionality doesn't feel bloated or inaccessible to the average user, not does it compromise the photo side of the service. Everything is accessed through the single existing Instagram app, with photos and videos loading in the same feed. Tapping the lower-right icon on the camera screen lets you switch to shooting video, meanwhile, with easy on-screen prompts used to complete the process. Clips load and upload very quickly, for the most part, though with the still image cover, there's a little pause before each clip begins playing in the feed.
Much as we loved Vine on first blush – tempered slightly by some early app irritations – the slowly building community made it more of a fun curio than appointment viewing. With video now seamlessly baked into Instagram, and allowing better options and features at nearly every turn (plus a much more active community), we'll happily keep just one breezy video-sharing app at the ready going forward. Sorry, Vine.
The bottom line. Sharp video capabilities only solidify Instagram's status as the top app for quickly sharing on-the-go visual media amongst friends.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Easy video sharing with much better features than Vine. Videos exist comfortably alongside still images. All-in-one option for video and photo sharing with a bustling community.
Makes Vine seem rather unnecessary for entrenched Instagram users.