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If you really want to share extremely short videos, Instagram beats Vine

In case you haven't heard, you can now use Instagram to share videos as well as photos, as long as those videos are no longer than 15 seconds. That immediately puts Instagram ahead of Twitter's Vine video-sharing service, which limits you to just 6 seconds. Just think of all you can do with those extra 9 seconds!

How do they work?

Video on Instagram (that's its official name; we prefer Instagram Video) is a strangely hidden feature. To post a video, you tap on the camera button, which takes you to still-camera options. To the right of the camera button is a video-camera icon, which takes you to video options. You shoot video by pressing and holding the video icon until the time limit is reached.

Completing a video is a multi-step process involving shooting, adding filters, choosing a cover frame, captioning, sharing, and posting. Not only do you have 15 seconds of time to fill, but you can remove small parts of your video and reshoot to tweak it to perfection.

Vine, on the other hand, is about simplicity. To start shooting a video, you just press the camera icon in the upper right hand corner of the app. You then touch and hold the screen to start and stop recording. No buttons here. From there it goes straight to adding a caption and posting. Posts are limited to 6 seconds and there's no editing. It'll take you 6 seconds to shoot, and another second or two to post.

How do they look?

Visually not much has changed with the Instagram app. Pictures are still displayed in their familiar square format and when you're scrolling through your friends' photos, the only way to tell that one is actually a video is an icon in the upper right hand corner showing a play, pause, or a video symbol.

Once a video is started, it plays through one time and can be paused at any point by tapping on the screen. New videos will play automatically begin when you scroll over them. As with Vine, videos have sound, which you should remember if you're fond of using Instagram as a distraction during long meetings.

How do they feel?

Instagram Video is very familiar to anyone who has used the service for photos. The new features blend in with everything else, and if you didn't know video was added, it might take awhile to stumble on it.

But this isn't a case of Instagram slapping together a competitor to Vine. They've taken it to a new level. It may seem trivial, but the fact is, 15 seconds is a lot longer than 6. Where videos on Vine have a frantic speed to them, Instagram videos can actually feel like mini-movies.

Being able to edit is also a key feature. Though you can only add one of the 13 available filters, most of which don't change the look a whole lot, it adds a sense of ownership to the entire process. In the same way Instagram made people feel like they were photographers shooting on vintage film, the editing options let you plan your video like you're the director of a short film.

Instagram also has image stabilization. Gone is the wobbly, sickening mess of handheld video. This adds to the generally polished feeling of Instagram Video, which is impressive for a new service, even if it's baked into an established one. There are occasional crashes, but all things considered, Instagram Video already feels like a mature feature.

Who's better?

Vine is still better at some things; it's very simple and easy to use. Videos loop like the newspapers in Harry Potter movies, which has its own charm. Also, sometimes restrictions can inspire creativity and despite the 6 second limit, people have made a lot of interesting videos with Vine. But Instagram tends to run more smoothly, reliably loading and playing videos, something Vine still struggles to do even on iOS. And did we mention that you can make 15-second videos? For most of us, Instagram is the better choice.

Google Play: Instagram, Vine
App Store: Instagram, Vine