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Instagram for Android update adds photo straightening while quietly preparing for ads

iOS Instagram users have been merrily straightening their images for a couple of months now, leaving their Android counterparts to make do with crooked shots or having to delete and start over.

The good news is, the straightening tool has just come to Instagram for Android, along with a few other features.

Straighten is a neat, simple-to-use tool that should mean you’ll never again have to post a tilted picture to your favorite media-sharing service.

If you notice your image is a little off balance, just tap the new straighten button and watch as Instagram brings it into line. A slider at the bottom of the screen lets you fine tune the tilt should you feel Instagram’s algorithms to be a little wayward in dealing with your masterpiece.

When the Facebook-owned company rolled out the feature for iDevice owners in August, Instagram developer Alex Restrepo revealed that a straightening tool had been in the works for a long time. However, its early effort – a manual-only solution – was deemed to be not in keeping with the smooth Instagram experience. Then someone suggested utilizing the sensors inside handsets.

“Most phones have a variety of sensors that allow us to determine the orientation and tilt of the device relative to a specific reference, meaning we can tell the angle of your phone at the time you took the picture,” Restrepo explained on the Instagram engineering blog.

“In order to correct the angle, we rotate the photo by the opposite of the angle in which you held your device. Once the auto correction is applied, you can fine-tune the results using the feature’s UI.”

Other new features with the latest version include data usage controls regarding the preloading of Instagram videos, meaning those with a cellular connection can now choose whether videos always load in advance (pricier on cellular) or only when a Wi-Fi connection is available. Pre-loading means videos will play more quickly when you tap on them. 

Interestingly, the option to switch off auto-play has been removed for those watching via a Wi-Fi connection, likely in preparation for its imminent ads rollout. An update rolled out Thursday for iOS with “performance updates and other improvements” also removes this option. The permanent auto-play feature should go down well with advertisers, as it means their product will get at least a few seconds of your time. How it plays with Instagram users is another matter entirely. 

The Android update also includes a new default option offering control over whether a video plays with the sound on or off.

Android users hoping for the Cinema video stabilization tool rolled out for iOS users when moving pictures came to Instagram in June will, we’re sorry to say, have to wait a little longer.

Instagram on Google Play

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