Hands on: Turning up the speed on time with Microsoft’s Hyperlapse app

Microsoft recently launched its new Hyperlapse app for select Windows Phone and Android devices. We’re always interested in new and interesting ways to create fun timelapses, so we fired up the new beta version on a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to see how good it makes the otherwise mundane walk around town.

We have our thoughts below, though it is a beta, so improvements may come to the technology over time.

What is Hyperlapse?

We’ve all tried making those tour videos of our house, front lawn, or drive around town with timelapse video apps. The problem is that filming while in motion makes it pretty hard to keep a camera steady, and even with a helmet cam, things like vibrations can affect the image quality and smoothness of the video. However, using some high-tech smarts, Microsoft designed a technology that turns timelapse videos like this one into smooth, enjoyable, short videos.

The app is called Microsoft Hyperlapse, and no, we’re not talking about the similarly named Instagram Hyperlapse app that’s exclusively on iOS. Still confused? Here’s Microsoft’s really complicated explanation of the difference. Microsoft says its app uses a better stitching technology and more intelligently predicts geometries to provide a smoother experience compared to Instagram’s Hyperlapse.

An app with big ambitions, but limited features

The Microsoft Hyperlapse experience begins with two pretty straightforward buttons on the menu: Import and record. Import lets you pull videos you’ve already made from your native camera app, as well as through cloud storage apps like Dropbox. The record function does everything automatically, so you don’t have to fiddle around with manual ISO, lighting, or other controls. You can turn on the backlight during the video for some extra illumination, and choose between the front or rear camera before filming, but that’s about it.

Once you import or record your video, you’ll be brought to the fairly straightforward editing experience. The video automatically replays, and there’s a bar on the bottom that lets you range the speed at which the recording will play. The video can replay from two times the normal speed, to even 32 times faster for those who leave their phones out all day to create a longer timelapse. Beyond that, there isn’t much else you can do in the editing process.

Another woe is the lack of controls for the lapse speed after you’re done filming. Once you start a timelapse, it’s set for the whole video, so you can’t slow it down at certain points to add emphasis, which is something that advanced users may want to do, especially for a 32 times timelapse that was filmed over the course of an entire day.

Smoother, faster, but with a few kinks

Once the video is finished processing, you can watch your Hyperlapse in action. The smoothing technology does an excellent job compared to the typical shaky cam experience you’d otherwise get, but it does feel a bit challenging to use for those who take walking videos without some sort of other stabilization technology.  It also doesn’t help that we used the app with a large bulky phone like the Note 4, which has worse ergonomics than a professional camera or a smaller device. Even so, you can see in our sample videos that it does a fair job of minimizing shaking, especially compared with timelapse videos made with other apps.

The faster you go, it seems, the better the video experience gets. A number of demos we’ve seen from Microsoft feature videos shot from cars and bikes, which look a lot cooler than timelapses that were filmed while walking around town. The quality will probably also improve as you introduce head cams or other ways to stabilize the video.

Record first, Hyperlapse later

For those in a rush, it’s worth noting you will need to sit tight with your phone after completing a Hyperlapse. The process isn’t done in the background, and depending on how long your video is and how you timelapse it, it can take a fair amount of time to process, even on a device as powerful as the Note 4. At the very least, it’d be helpful to let the video process in the background, and then notify the user when it’s finished, so they can go back to using their phone. This is also likely a battery killer, since it is processor-intensive video post-processing.

Another woe we have with the app is that there’s no way to revisit videos recorded in Hyperlapse. If you decide something is too fast and want to slow it down, you better have originally recorded it somewhere other than on Hyperlapse. You could save a normal speed version, then go back and import it, and put it into Hyperlapse later, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the app, and is not intuitive at all. Still, we highly recommend folks use their preferred app for video recording, and just use Hyperlapse when they want to make a particular video into an interesting timelapse.

Hyperlapse is a good first attempt by Microsoft at its research-backed timelapse technology. However, the app definitely needs some improvements in the UI and overall user experience. The technology works pretty well for even the shakiest of videos, and the results range from comical to stunning, depending on what you’re filming. We just wonder if Hyperlapse can survive as an app without better editing tools and other key features. That said, it’s still in beta, so Microsoft could improve Hyperlapse before it finally launches as an official app.

To download it and try it for yourself, you’ll need a compatible Android for Windows Phone device. Click here for the details on how to join the beta and give it a spin.


Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.

Everything about 'Red Dead Online', including its new microtransaction store

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.

Apple's iOS 12.1.1 makes it easier to switch cameras in FaceTime

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.

Xbox One S vs. PlayStation 4 Slim: Which console is worth your money?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.

Apple is spending $1 billion to hire up to 15,000 new employees in Austin

Apple has announced a series of expansions across the U.S. -- including a massive expansion to the company's Austin campus that will see it spending $1 billion to accommodate for up to 15,000 new employees.

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find a Lime bike or scooter

Google Maps has added a new feature that helps you find a Lime bike or scooter in just a few taps. The feature currently works in 11 U.S. cities served by Lime, with more coming next year.

Quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed

Looking for a few accoutrements to make your smartphone even better? If you, or someone you know, is a sucker for accessories, you'll want to check out our collection of quirky smartphone accessories you never knew you needed.

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Walmart drops prices on Apple Watches and other fitness trackers

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable heart rate monitors from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin are popular gifts. Wearables are smarter and more capable than in earlier years. We found the best wearables deals on Walmart.

The best Wear OS watches

There are a ton of different Wear OS watches out there, but which one's right for you? No matter what you're looking for from a smartwatch, here are the best Wear OS watches out there.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.