This week’s first “App Smackdown” article sees two App Store heavyweights, Vine and Instagram, go head-to-head in the AppAdvice boxing ring. Each offers social video tools for its own social network, and each one has the backing of a big company. But which app, Vine or Instagram, is best suited for your social video needs?
Release date: Jan. 23, 2013
Latest update: 3.2.1 (March 24, 2015)
Compatibility: iPhone and iPod touch
Vine is the original social video app. First launched in early 2013 by the micro-blogging social network Twitter, the free application revolutionized how iPhone owners create, edit, and share looping videos on Apple’s smartphone. It’s a separate entity from Twitter, offering users a dedicated social network for all their social video posts, follows, and comments; moreover, Vine has received a number of updates adding additional functionality and features, like high-definition video, in the years following its launch.
Twitter’s Vine is the app which defined social video, and its strengths are both numerous and wide-ranging. For a start, the app’s main user interface (UI) is clean, minimalistic, and follows the application’s green color scheme throughout. Here, a selection of “Editor’s Picks” will auto-play, and for the most part these are usually impressive; Vine’s staff do a great job of selecting artistic and, quite often, innovative material to display on the app’s main page.
What we prefer, however, is Vine’s “Explore” interface, which users can access from a separate tab: this categorizes Vines into a number of groups, making it easier for iPhone owners to find videos which they’d most like to see. More precise searching can occur using a dedicated search field, and Twitter-style hashtags can also be used in Vine to tag individual videos.
All of this means that Vine allows users to engage with a community that’s dedicated to sharing video content: the app is focused on social video and social video alone, and as such it hosts a strong community users. Even if you’re not actively posting to the social network, Vine is nevertheless a great application for browsing the creations of others.
When it comes to creating videos in Vine, the process is simple enough: holding your finger on your iPhone’s screen captures video, and lifting it up pauses the capture process. Once complete, you can perform minor edits to individual sections of the video, but nothing too complex is available here. Perhaps this goes against the ideology of Vine, but in a world of iOS apps which offer a range of editing tools and techniques for iPhone-captured video, it might be nice to access more advanced tools inside of Vine’s video capture interface. This is a small complaint, however, and it certainly doesn’t interfere heavily with the app’s overall performance and the user experience provided.
Total score: 19 out of 20
Release date: Oct. 6, 2010
Latest update: 6.10.0 (April 10, 2015)
Compatibility: iPhone and iPod touch
If Vine is the king of social video, Instagram surely holds the photo sharing crown. Released in 2010 and acquired by Facebook in 2012 for the killer price of $1 billion, Instagram entered the social video market a couple of years ago in June 2013. The app, in a move to combat Vine, added support for sharing 15-second videos. But how does it compare to the original social video app?
Sharing video in Instagram occurs within the app’s usual photo-capture interface: users can simply opt to press the video camera icon, and hey presto – they’ll be recording video for the world to see. Much like Vine, users hold their finger down on their iPhone’s screen (this time on a record icon), and the app will capture video footage. However, it’s the next part of the video capture process which sees Instagram Video really excel.
Here, users can choose to add one of Instagram’s famous filters to their video, and naturally, doing so has the potential to enhance the content you’ve captured. There is a huge range of Instagram Video filters available in the app, and this is a clear boon when it comes to sharing video using Facebook’s Instagram network.
The problem with Instagram Video, however, is the network itself. You see, video in the app is posted onto a user’s timeline and is integrated alongside digital photographs. This causes a number of problems. For one, Instagram always was (and, for many, still is) a social network that’s all about image sharing, and not video sharing. Folks sign up to the service and use Instagram on the basis that it’s a “social network for pictures,” and not a social video app.
As a result, for many users, videos merely serve to interrupt the traditional Instagram experience: they take longer to load, they auto-play in our timelines, and on a social network that’s still largely populated with images, videos quite simply aren’t photos. This isn’t to say that the app’s video sharing features aren’t impressive; Instagram’s video filters, for instance, really are great, and the process of posting content to the social network is quick and painless. But as a social network for sharing video, Instagram definitely falls into second place.
Total score: 14 out of 20
And the winner is …
Despite offering promising video editing options, the social video experience offered by Instagram really is no match for Vine. This doesn’t mean Twitter’s app is perfect – improved editing options would be much appreciated by Vine’s many users. But as a forum for capturing, sharing, and viewing video, Vine’s app is definitely the best on the App Store.
You can download Vine free of charge, and it’s optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch.
You can download Instagram free of charge, too, and it’s also optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch.