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Retro sunsets and lattes, now in motion: Instagram rolls out video functionality

kevin stage IG“Today, we’re going to focus on Instagram.” And how!

Mark Zuckerberg launched today’s Facebook event by making it clear people were dead on in assuming the announcement would focus on the social networks 2012 acquisition. He quickly handed off the mike to Kevin Systrom, one of Instagram’s co-founders.

Systrom gave a run down of how far Instagram has come since 2010. “16 billion photos have been shared … that’s a lot of photos of coffee.” Systrom noted that the service sees 1 billion likes a day, and has 130 million active users each month. All the stats and numbers just reiterate the fact that the little photo-sharing app that could is a bonafide social media behemoth. Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 12.12.43 PM

Systrom also revisited Instagram’s origins – saying that when he and co-founder Mike Krieger were working on Burbn (the original app from which Instagram was born) video was an intended feature. However they initially left video behind to create Instagram because the complexities would have slowed it down and made it less beautiful – but now, thanks to smartphone advancements and the wealth of development Instagram has behind it (Zuckerberg said the team has tripled), video is being added into the fold.

The update is immediately available. A quick run-down of how to use the video function: just like taking photos, you hold down the center button – the only difference is, for video you just hold it down for longer as you record. Systrom then showed how it will appear in the feed. People can create 15-second videos, and there are 13 filters specific to the video function. You are also able to select and delete individual parts of the clip if you wish and can also choose a frame. 

“It plays once, it doesn’t loop,” he noted, perhaps making a point to differentiate Instagram video from Vine. The videos will appear right in the standard Instagram feed but with a camera icon in the upper right hand corner. 

“And day one, Android as well. That means all of our users can use video on Instagram.” Systrom also pointed out that it will be immediately available on the Web.

video instagramThen Systrom discussed how easy it is to take bad videos, with shaky hands and grainy subjects. Since Instagram wants to help its users create professional-grade video snippets, they came up with Cinema, a new technology that offers image stabilization. Cinema was perhaps the only “surprise” of the event, but if the feature is as accomplished and impressive as it was in the demo, color us happy about its introduction. 

While there’s sure to be the expected negative feedback to changing an app with such a loyal community, Systrom stresses that Instagram is only beefing up its app, and that it will remain true to its ideals of beauty, simplicity, and speed. “This is the same Instagram we all know and love,” says Systrom. “But now it moves.”