The latest advance by Facebook (and Instagram) on Twitter territory in their increasingly heated partner war is a video sharing service that looks a lot like Vine, Twitter's increasingly popular looping video app. It's almost a shameless copycat — it's literally just an updated version of the same Instagram app that now allows you to take, filter, and post short videos, and Facebook's much rumored event on Thursday was pretty short, because it was Instagram Video and nothing else.
Instagram even lets you take a bunch of different frames and put them together — just like Vine. Though, to be fair, it's not exactly the same. It's better! Instead of six seconds to point and shoot, Instagram gives its users 15 seconds. If you don't like a frame, Instagram will let you delete a portion and retake it, and there's no looping involved. Plus, of course, Instagram provides all those filters its users know and love (well, 13 new ones, but they're pretty similar and pictured at right) to make your entire video look artsier than it really is. And there's a bonus "cinema mode," which is a pseudo-editing tool for stabilizing shaky video footage — and all of it's right there in the original Instagram app on both iPhone and Android. You can head on over to the App Store or Google Play store and update right now.
The concept and the updated app look great — Instagram took Twitter's Vine idea, cleaned it up, and put it in some filtered-Instagram clothes. The video setting shows up right next to the photo button in your existing Instagram tab. The process is just like uploading a photo, and Instagram even included a "cover" option to pick the prettiest frame to show up in friends' feeds.
But remember, Facebook is little late to the social video trend — remember they were supposed to be the biggest new thing a whole year ago? — and know that Facebook is releasing this product through its $1-billion baby almost completely because of the success Vine has enjoyed in the App Store since its launch this spring. Facebook announced today's announcement by saying that a small team was building something big, when in reality that was probably a mad dash to catch up to a big competitor that made a small app turn into a huge challenge to its mega-acquisition last year. Indeed, Instagram and Twitter have had a little war for mobile users going since Twitter added filters to its pictures and Instagram pulled its pictures from Twitter. To wit, just before the announcement Twitter teased a Vine update of its own, showing what looks like a redesigned Vine interface that blows the video up to the full width of a phone screen.