Instagram vs. Vine: Top five differences

June 21, 2013

Instagram (and Facebook) threw down against Vine (and Twitter) this week, after debuting a new video mode for its network. But while they look and operate in much the same manner, there are plenty of key differences to set these two products apart.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest ways the apps diverge:

Length: The biggest distinguishing factor between these two services is the amount of time they allow for clips. Instagram offers users 15 seconds to Vine’s six — two-and-a-half times the video fun. The longer time-limit is supposed to make it easier for more people to shoot videos, since you don’t have to ration your time quite as jealously as you do with Vine.

More time is not always a good thing. If you have something really fun to film, then it gives you a lot of room to run. But if the video’s boring, fifteen seconds can seem like a lifetime. (At least a waste of time.)

But asking people to take more time to watch your content means there could actually be a higher bar for what makes a good video on Instagram — or at least a lower tolerance threshold for subpar work.

Shooting: Shooting on the two apps is similar, but not identical. On Vine, you can hold your finger down anywhere on the screen to start recording. With Instagram, you have to hit a dedicated button on the screen. It’s big and red, but it’s still not quite as easy to use when shooting.

The trade-off, however, is that Instagram lets you tap-to-focus in the midst of your shooting, opening up the intriguing possibility of switching the action from background to foreground and vice-versa.

Instagram also includes a nifty feature that lets you stabilize your video after you shoot it — again, a feature that makes sense when dealing with longer clips.

Editing: Instagram brings two new additions to the editing table that Vine doesn’t have — the ability to delete and the option to add one of its signature filters to your videos.

Being able to delete is a good touch, particularly if Instagram is looking for a more thoughtful phone video crowd. And filters can cover up a multitude of lighting and shooting sins, even if they can’t make your video any more entertaining.

Not to be outdone, Vine may be looking to deal with bloopers in the future as well. Ahead of Facebook’s announcement, Vine released a short video of a phone running a version of Vine that apparently can save drafts — a hint of what may be coming in the future.

Looping: Vine’s looping is one of its most unique features, tapping into the .gif-sharing culture and providing a good platform for animation. You wouldn’t want videos much longer than six seconds to play on repeat, so it makes sense that Instagram didn’t follow suit with a similar format.

Still, there’s something charming about the loop. The best Vines actually improve on their second or third rewatch, and there’s certainly a thoughtful crowd out there that takes pride in making clips that flow well from beginning to end.

Instagram videos, on the other hand, require users to be thoughtful in a more traditional way — basically, making sure that what they’re posting is worth the time to watch it.

Convenience: Instagram’s video comes as a mode within the existing app, while Vine stands alone. It’s a smart move for Instagram, given that it means they already have a video app with 130 million monthly users.

That could be the result of the lesson Facebook learned from its self-destructing Poke video app, a separate app that has failed to pick up many users. On the other hand, having a stand-alone app means that you’re fewer taps away from making a quick video in the moment.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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