Instagram vs. Vine: Battle of the short-form video-sharing apps

Wondering how Instagram's new video capabilities stack up against Vine's? The answer is pretty clear.

Hey, guys, remember Vine? That's what we might be asking each other if this whole video-on-Instagram thing pans out.

If you haven't heard, Instagram today announced the addition of video capturing and sharing capabilities to its widely used photo app. The new features are now available on both Android and iOS , and so far, users seem to be really excited about the moving pictures.

But how exactly do Instagram's new features stack up against Twitter's video-sharing baby? While Instagram's update may have borrowed copiously from the Vine (also available for iOS and Android ) experience, the two apps do differ greatly. Below, we'll break down some of the biggest differences and see who comes out on top.

Shooting video
Vine's recording interface is as simple as it gets, with the only onscreen elements being a video viewer, a Timeline, and a button to swap between rear- and front-facing cameras (iOS only). To start recording, all you have to do is tap and hold anywhere onscreen, and you can do so as many times as you need to in order to fill up the 6-second time window with clips. Bad thing is, if you make a mistake somewhere in the middle of your recording, you'll have to start over again. Once you're done, you get one last preview before moving forward to share your 6-second (or less) work of art.

Vine (left) gives you 6 seconds; Instagram gives you 15 seconds. But also worth mentioning is that the latter lets you adjust focus and exposure while recording. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

Taking a page out of Vine's book, Instagram also employed the clever tap-and-hold recording scheme to benefit its users. The biggest difference, though, is that you can't tap just anywhere onscreen to start recording; you have to tap the camera button on the bottom. That's because tapping on Instagram's video viewer adjusts focus and exposure, which is a good thing. A really good thing. While Vine's camera might not do well under bad lighting conditions, Instagram's at least gives you some assistance with the built-in tap-to-adjust tool. Oh, and Instagram can switch between rear- and front-facing cameras, too, so no need to worry about that.

The other thing that sets Instagram apart, of course, is that it gives you more than double the recording time. Similarly to Tout , another social video app, Instagram gives you a full 15 seconds.

What's more, Instagram lets you go back and delete the last clip if you make a mistake, and you can do this as many times as you need to. Winner: Instagram (by far)

Processing and sharing
Once you're done shooting with Vine, the app gives you one last preview, then shoots you off to the Share screen, where you can add your caption, tag a location, and post your video to Vine, Twitter, and Facebook. When you're done, the app takes just a few seconds to process the video, then conveniently saves a copy to your Camera Roll before sharing. It's important to note that if you don't want to share your video, Vine doesn't force you to (Instagram does). You can actually uncheck all three sharing options, then keep your 6-second, multiclip piece to yourself. But remember, if you do so, you won't be able to later import the video back into Vine.

The two apps have similar sharing capabilities, but Instagram (right) lets you add filters and apply an image stabilizer before posting. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

The big kicker with Instagram is that it gives you 13 filters to treat your video with once you're done recording. Similar to the app's photo filters, Instagram's video filters can alter the colors and saturation of your work to give it that vintage or otherwise artsy feel. What's more, Instagram comes with a built-in video stabilizer called Cinema that you can apply to your entire video before posting. And finally, the app lets you add a caption, choose a cover frame (a frame from the video that other users will see), post to your Photo Map, and share on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Tumblr, and Foursquare. And just like Vine, Instagram saves a copy of the video in your Camera Roll. Winner: Instagram (by a mile)

The Timeline
Scroll through your timelines in both Vine and Instagram, and you'll notice that they are similar in many ways. They both automatically load and play videos as you scroll by them, and there are buttons to Like and add comments to any of the items you come across. These basics are the same, but there are a number of key differences that set the two platforms apart.

With Vine, videos on the Timeline continuously loop, giving users some extra room to create seemingly endless pieces of art.

On the Timeline, Vine (left) plays videos endlessly in a loop while Instagram (right) stops upon completion. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

Instagram videos just play to completion and stop, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but will certainly be disappointing to many. The biggest difference, though, is that Instagram's Timeline also includes static photographs. Whether users would prefer to have a separate Timeline just for videos, it's still early to tell. Winner: Vine

Discovering videos
Without a doubt, Vine makes it easy to discover new videos. Its Explore screen includes Editor's Picks, popular videos, and trending hash tags. You can click on any option and see thousands of new videos to satisfy your appetite.

Vine's Explore screen (left) makes it easy to discover interesting videos. Instagram's mixes in still photos, which can make it more difficult. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

Instagram, on the other hand, makes it a bit more difficult. As of now, there's no way to filter video content from static photos, so Instagram's Explore screen might not be as helpful as Vine's. You can try searching for the hash tag "#video" but there's still no guarantee that you'll filter out the stills. Winner: Vine

Winner: Instagram
Sure, each app won two categories apiece, but the reality is that Instagram dominated its categories. And to be frank, those categories that Instagram won (shooting and sharing) are significantly more important. With Instagram's video filters, longer time limit, exposure tool, and image stabilizer, Vine is going to have to seriously step up its game if it hopes to continue to increase its user base.

 

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