Instagram Gets Video: App Update Adds Filter Effects to 15-Second Videos

The Instagram iPhone and Android app will now include video features.

ByABC News
June 20, 2013, 11:41 AM

June 20, 2013 — -- Those selfies and food photos in your Instagram feed might soon be a little less stationary. Starting today, the Facebook-owned service will be adding video features to its popular iPhone and Android apps.

"We talk about Instagram as capturing and sharing the world's moments. It's not just about photography," Instagram founder Kevin Systrom told "Nightline" anchor Bill Weir in an exclusive interview. "There are a ton of moments in the world that can't be captured in single images."

They can, however, be captured in video clips under a half a minute long, said Systrom. An update to the current Instagram app, which will be released today, will allow users to capture anywhere between three to 15 seconds of video, apply a new set of filters and then easily share them with their Instagram friends or through other social media services.

Watch the full story on "Nightline" TONIGHT at 12:35 a.m. ET

Filters, 'Cinema Mode'
The new version of the app will look and feel a lot like the older version, because it was meant to be all about keeping the interface "simplicity."

Users will now hit the camera button and get a choice of a still camera or video camera option. Selecting the video option will bring up the usual viewfinder, and then, similar to Twitter's Vine app, holding down the video icon will capture video. Releasing it will allow you to pause the video, readjust your shot and then start capturing again.

Then comes the part that has made Instagram so popular with more than 130 million people: the filters.

"We put the power of a photography studio in the palm of your hand. We've done the same for video. So now you can take beautiful video and basically share it with the world," Systrom said.

Video of Instagram's New Video Features

There are 13 new video filters, which range from your usual black-and-white effect to others that brighten or blur videos. You can add filters during the playback of your video and switch between them to decide which one you want to select before sharing it. You can also select a frame from the video, which will be the cover or photo that appears in the stream.

But there's also another feature Instagram has added to make sure your mobile video looks good. Called Cinema Mode, the feature stabilizes video to make sure it isn't shaky. Cinema Mode will only be available for the iPhone, at first.

A Seamless Addition
When video posts appear in the Instagram feed, the videos will begin to play automatically but only when you stop scrolling. The auto play feature can also be disabled in the settings. All videos will play back with sound as well.

Systrom and his co-founder, Mike Krieger, want those who are worried about these big changes to know that the team has spent time making sure it is a very simple experience and that adding lots of video doesn't slow down the Instagram experience.

"The infrastructure team has spent a bunch of time building a fast, reliable backend that we've optimized for speed and quality," Krieger told ABC News. "We are aiming for as seamless an experience as possible and will continue to focus on speed and performance over time."

The Vine Effect?
All the big questions about how the app will work have been answered, but the big question for many will be: Is this better than Twitter's Vine, which allows iPhone and Android users to share six-second video clips -- and was this addition to a response to it?

Systrom said the company has actually been working on the video feature for more than two years. Before Instagram was created, Systrom and Krieger were working on an app called Burbn that let you share your location and videos and photos of where you were.

"When we decided to work on Instagram, we took the best parts from that project and created Instagram," he said. "But we left video on the shelf. All we're doing today is bringing it back into the product."

But while Systrom obviously believes his way is the best, it might not even matter. Instagram's 130 million active users share 40 million photos a day and, for many of those users, the ability to add video will just be another way to share what they are seeing.

"Instagram itself has a significant number of users, even when you compare it to Twitter directly. And it's quite a bit bigger than Vine," Gartner analyst Brian Blau told ABC News. "In the end, I think people are going to stick with what they know. If they like Instagram and there is a video feature, they will probably use it."

Sure, that means more informative food and selfies in your feed, but it also means a lot more.

"Instagram not only is about lattes, babies, cute dogs," said Systrom. "It's also about these moments in the world that let you peer in to understand different cultures, different political situations."