Instagram TikTok

Instagram’s TikTok clone Reels updates to allow longer videos, easier edits – TechCrunch

Instagram is today rolling out a few changes to its TikTok competitor, Reels, after early reviews of the feature criticized its design and reports indicated it was failing to gain traction. The company says it’s responding to user feedback on a few fronts, by giving Reels users the ability to create longer videos, extend the timer, and by adding tools to trim and delete clips for easier editing.

TikTok helped popularize the short, 15-second video — its default setting. But its app also allows videos up to a minute in length, which is a popular option. Reels, however, launched with support for only the 15-second video. Not surprisingly, the Reels community of early adopters has been asking for the ability to create longer videos, similar to TikTok.

But Instagram isn’t giving them the full one minute. Instead, it’s adding the ability to create a Reel up to 30 seconds long. This could force users to create original content for Reels, instead of repurposing their longer TikTok videos on Instagram.

Image Credits: Instagram

The company says it will also now allow users to extend the timer up to 10 seconds and will allow users to trim and delete clips to make editing simpler.

“We continue to improve Reels based on people’s feedback, and these updates make it easier to create and edit. While it’s still early, we’re seeing a lot of entertaining, creative content,” said Instagram Reels Director, Tessa Lyons-Laing.

The tweaks to the video creation and editing process could help to simplify some of the more troublesome pain points, but don’t fully address the problems facing Reels.

What makes TikTok so easy to use is that you don’t have to be a great video editor to make what appear to be fairly polished, short-form videos synced to music. With TikTok’s Sound Sync feature, for example, the app can automatically find music that synchronizes with your video clips, if you don’t want to take full control of the editing experience.

On Reels, there’s more manual editing involved in terms of locating the right music and matching it up with your edits — which you have to do yourself, instead of leaving it up to the tech to do for you.

Image Credits: Instagram

Despite being a shameless attempt at being a TikTok clone, Reels lacks other TikTok features, like duets or its “Family Pairing” parental controls. It also makes it difficult to figure out how to share videos more privately. Reels can be posted to Stories, where they disappear, or they can appear on your profile in their own tab — which is a confusing design choice. Plus, the integration of Reels in the Instagram app contributes to app bloat. TikTok is an entire social network, but Reels is trying to squeeze that broader creative experience into a much smaller box alongside so many other features, like Stories, Shopping, Live Video, IGTV and more standard photo and video publishing. It feels like too much.

That said, Reels has managed to onboard a number of high-profile users. Today, it’s touting top Reels from creators like Billy Porter, Blair Imani, Doug the Pug, Prince William and Kate and Eitan Bernath as examples of its creative content.

Even though TikTok’s fate is still a big question mark in the U.S., it’s not clear, at this point, if Instagram will be poised to absorb the TikTok audience in the event of a ban.

Instagram says the option to create 30-second Reels is rolling out today, while the new trimming and editing features are live now. The Timer extension will also roll out in the next few days.

The features will be available in the 50 countries worldwide where Reels is available and elsewhere, as Reels expands to new markets.

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Instagram launches

Instagram launches QR codes globally, letting people open a profile from any camera app – The Verge

Instagram is bringing QR codes to the app. Users can now generate QR codes that’ll be scannable from any supporting, third-party camera apps. It first launched the product in Japan last year. The idea is that businesses can print their QR code and have customers scan it to open their Instagram account easily. From there, people can see store hours, buy items, or just follow the account.

To generate your QR code, go to the settings menu on your profile and tap QR code. You might still see Nametag there, but eventually, it’ll become QR code. You can then save or share the image. Instagram previously deployed a similar system called Nametags, which were internal QR-like codes that could only be scanned from the Instagram camera. It’s now deprecating the feature entirely.

Multiple other apps employ their own QR-like system, including Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Spotify. (Only Twitter supports actual QR codes.) But with the pandemic, it’s unsurprising to see Instagram embrace the more open QR system. Restaurants have begun leaving QR codes out instead of their physical menus, and other businesses request that people scan a QR code to load their website. While Nametags might have worked for this purpose, QR codes make it easier for people to scan and make them less reliant on taking out the Instagram camera to access information.

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Instagram launches

Instagram launches Reels, a replacement for TikTok – PhoneArena

Short-form video app TikTok has 41 days to complete a deal with Microsoft or any other U.S. company or else President Donald Trump has said that he will ban the app in the U.S. That’s because TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China and a law in the country allows the communist government to order tech firms to collect intelligence from consumers and companies in the states and send it to Beijing. This is the same reason why outfits like Huawei and ZTE are considered national security threats in the states.

Just yesterday

NPR reported that twenty separate lawsuits accusing TikTok of capturing information about users’ facial characteristics, locations, and close contacts were merged into one class-action suit. The plaintiffs are minors who use the app and the suit states that the personal data collected by TikTok is sent to servers in China. ByteDance says that the servers it uses for TikTok are located in the U.S. with backups in Singapore. Experts for the plaintiffs said in the filing that personal data collected by TikTok is “under the control of third-parties who cooperate with the Chinese government. Such information reveals TikTok users’ precise physical location, including possibly indoor locations within buildings, and TikTok users’ apps that possibly reveal mental or physical health, religious views, political views, and sexual orientation.”

Instagram unveils Reels

With talk of a possible ban, many of the 100 million TikTok users in the U.S. have been looking for a new app to record their lip-syncing, dancing, singing, comedy bits, and protests. One app called Clash launched months early so that it could sign up TikTok members worried about losing the app to a ban.

Today, Instagram announced the launch of its short-form video feature called Reels. Instagram says, “Reels invites you to create fun videos to share with your friends or anyone on Instagram. Record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. You can share reels with your followers on Feed, and, if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore. Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on a global stage.”

To use Reels, open Instagram and touch the camera icon in the upper left of the screen. On the bottom of the page, tap the Reels tab to get started. On the left side of the screen, you’ll see icons for Audio, Speed, Effects, and Timer. With the Audio setting, you can search for a song from Instagram’s music library or use your own by creating a reel with original music. If you share an original song on Reels, you will get credit for it. And your musical creation can be used by others by selecting “Use Audio” from your Reel.

With AR Effects you can pick one from Instagram’s effect gallery which also includes effects made by creators all over the planet. This will allow you to create multiple-clips with different effects. If you are recording a Reel, you can record it hands-free by tapping on Timer and Countdown. A 3-2-1 countdown will alert you when your device has started recording.

Perhaps one of the most important features on Reels is Align. This allows you to line up objects from your previous clips to help you record seamless transitions for outfit changes and more. And Speed lets you speed up audio and video. Reels can be recorded one at a time or all at once. Instagram says, “Record the first clip by pressing and holding the capture button. You’ll see a progress indicator at the top of the screen as you record. Stop recording to end each clip.”

If you have a public account, your Reel can be shared in Explore or over your feed. If you use a private account, only your followers will be able to view your content from your feed. Original audio can’t be shared with this setting and others cannot share your Reels with others who don’t follow you. And a Reel can also be shared like a Story which means that it will disappear after 24 hours.

“Reels in Explore showcases the best of trending culture on Instagram. Discover an entertaining selection of reels made by anyone on Instagram, in a vertical feed customized for you. If you love a Reel, you can easily like, comment or share it with your friends. You’ll also see some Reels with a “Featured” label. If your Reel is featured in Explore, you’ll receive a notification. Featured Reels are a selection of public Reels chosen by Instagram to help you discover original content we hope will entertain and inspire you.

Reels gives people new ways to express themselves, discover more of what they love on Instagram, and help anyone with the ambition of becoming a creator take center stage.”

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Instagram launches

Instagram launches Reels, its attempt to keep you off TikTok – The Verge

Instagram Reels

Image: Instagram

‘No two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either’

With TikTok’s future uncertain, Instagram is hoping to lure some creators away with the rollout of a direct competitor, Reels, which is launching in more than 50 countries today, including the US, UK, Japan, and Australia, on both iOS and Android.

Similar to TikTok, Reels lets people create short-form videos set to music that can be shared with friends and followers and discovered while browsing the app. It’s the newest opportunity for Instagram to bring in users, increase the amount of time people spend in the app every day, and establish itself as a video entertainment platform.

Reels allows people to record videos up to 15 seconds long and add popular music, as well as an array of filters and effects, over top of them. For creators looking to use Instagram Reels as a new way to build a following, Instagram has revamped its Explore page to create a specific landing spot for Reels at the top of the screen that people can vertically scroll through — similar to TikTok’s “For You Page.”

Both private and public options are available. If you want to become the next Charli D’Amelio, having a public profile will allow your Reels to be widely discovered. For people who want to share with friends, Reels created under private accounts will only post to a person’s Feed and Stories. The feature lives entirely inside of Instagram; it’s not a new app.

The launch of Reels comes as TikTok faces a potential ban in the United States by President Donald Trump or a possible partial acquisition by Microsoft. ByteDance also said Sunday that Facebook was among the troubles in its path, accusing the company of plagiarizing its product with Instagram Reels. Robby Stein, Instagram’s product director, said that while TikTok popularized the short video format, the two products are different.

“I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularizing formats in this space, and it’s just great work,” Stein told The Verge. “But at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.”

That’s a familiar line to people who remember when Instagram first launched Stories in 2016, and the company was accused of creating a Snapchat clone. Stein said that his team received “very similar feedback when we launched Stories.” But Instagram Stories quickly surpassed Snapchat in daily users and has continued to be a massively successful product. That history of success is one of the strongest reasons for Instagram’s team to think it can pull Reels off. TikTok did it first, but maybe Instagram can do it better.

Part of that strategy is focusing on what Stein believes Instagram does best: creating easy-to-use technology for whoever wants to make a video. When opening Instagram to make a Reel, people will be able to slide to a new section of the camera that comes with an assortment of tools. Reels can be recorded either all at once or as a series of clips, or people can upload videos from their photo gallery. The camera’s new features are similar to TikTok’s, with options to mess with the speed, apply special effects, set a timer, and add audio.

Instagram’s product team is “really positioning Instagram camera around a few core formats,” according to Stein. Stories is designed as more of a social feature — quick little snippets people want to share with their followers. Reels is designed with entertainment in mind, an area that Instagram wants to really focus on. Part of that focus includes the redesign of Instagram’s Explore page. More than 50 percent of people use Instagram’s Explore page in a month, Stein said, and now there’ll be a dedicated hub for Reels. This is essentially Reels’ equivalent of the “For You Page” on TikTok, a place for creators to possibly go viral or find new followers.

“We’re going big with entertainment and [making Explore] the permanent place for you to go lean back, relax, and be inspired every day,” Stein said. “It’s our hope that with this format we have a new chapter of entertainment on Instagram.”

Reels’ biggest difference from TikTok is its tie-ins to the overarching Instagram ecosystem, Stein says. People can send Reels to their friends directly on Instagram and they can use Instagram-specific AR filters and tools — everything that people want to do is part of an existing network.

TikTok and Instagram are more than camera products, though. They’re communities for established and burgeoning creators. Stein said the company’s main goal is to “support the entire creator ecosystem,” including giving creators the ability to scale their reach on the platform and adding new tools to make their videos pop. For now, though, Instagram won’t be paying popular creators for their videos, as TikTok has started to offer.

Instagram already allows for influencers and creators to earn revenue through brand deals and sponsored posts, but Instagram doesn’t directly pay people for content. TikTok didn’t either until very recently. The company announced last month that it’s starting a $200 million fund in the US to pay top creators for their videos. TikTok is hoping to expand that fund north of $1 billion. The message is simple: we want you to stay on TikTok and create for TikTok, and we’re going to pay you to do it. Stein had “nothing to share” for now about direct payments to creators, but he stressed that allowing people to monetize is important.

There are a few other features that Reels will not have at launch. People won’t be able to “duet” with each other — a core TikTok feature that lets people interact with, build upon, and remix videos. Instagram also won’t allow people to upload songs directly into the app’s system. Musicians looking to use the app as a place to make a song go viral “can add original audio by just recording and that can live on later,” Stein said, adding that “other people could use it and remix it,” but the actual song can’t be uploaded directly.

Reels isn’t its own world like TikTok is or Vine was. It’s another thing to do on Instagram and another way to find entertainment beyond scrolling through Stories and our Feeds. That lack of focus might seem like a weakness, but Stein sees it differently. “I think one of the really fun parts of this,” he says, “is it’s just another format on Instagram.”

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Instagram promises

Instagram promises to fix bug after being exposed by always accessing the camera on iOS 14 – 9to5Mac

We have already covered here some apps that were caught accessing users’ clipboard thanks to a new feature of iOS 14, but that’s not all. The next major update to Apple’s mobile operating system also indicates when an app is using the camera or microphone, and that has just exposed Instagram’s app.

According to some reports shared on social networks by users who have already installed iOS 14, the camera’s indicator stays on when the Instagram app is open. Even if the user is not using the camera, as when scrolling through the photo feed, the green dot shows that the app is accessing the camera in the background.

The expected behavior, of course, is for the app to access the camera only when necessary — such as when you open the Instagram Stories composer. However, Instagram told The Verge that this behavior is just a bug.

“We only access your camera when you tell us to — for example, when you swipe from Feed to Camera. We found and are fixing a bug in iOS 14 Beta that mistakenly indicates that some people are using the camera when they aren’t,” the spokesperson said. “We do not access your camera in those instances, and no content is recorded.”

According to the company, the system sometimes understands that the user has swiped the finger to open the in-app camera, which is not always the case. Instagram promises to fix this problem in a future update of its iOS app.

Casually browsing Instagram when suddenly the new iOS 14 camera/microphone indicator comes on. Then control panel ratted out the app behind it. This is going to change things. #iOS14

— KevDoy (@KevDoy) July 17, 2020

The privacy features of iOS 14 aren’t even available to the general public yet, but they have already caused trouble for some developers. More recently, LinkedIn was sued by being caught reading the content of the users’ clipboard without authorization — the company also says that was a bug.

iOS 14 is currently available as a beta release and it’s expected to be available to everyone this fall.

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Instagram unlikely

The unlikely Instagram middle man behind Jamal Adams’ Jets blowup – New York Post

June 19, 2020 | 7:01am

Jonathan Abrahams wants to set the record straight for all those critics ready to take away his right to be a Jets fan.

He thinks the Jets should re-sign Jamal Adams. He thinks Adams deserves to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL. He once posed for photos with his mother, nephew and Adams as they made nice small talk at a charity event.

And now Abrahams is miscast as the Jets fan who prompted the team’s biggest star to ask for a trade after his comment on Instagram prompted Adams’ latest of many rants voicing his frustration with his contract, followed hours later by an official trade request.

“Who would have even expected a reply?” Abrahams told The Post. “I saw that little red dot replying to me and I clicked it and all of a sudden I was like, ‘Is this actually from Jamal Adams? This is him responding to me?’ I was in shock.”

Abrahams is the unlikely middle man — a 47-year-old New Yorker who has been a fan since his mother brought him to a practice to meet Richard Todd and other 1970s Jets — in a feud that started in October when an insulted Adams was mentioned in trade talks.

Jamal Adams
Jamal AdamsGetty Images

Adams has been on a public crusade for an extension and raise all offseason, and seemed destined to hold out and request a trade sooner or later.

“I’ve been a Jets fan my entire life and I’ve never had this much control of the organization,” Abrahams quipped. “It’s crazy.”

He’s joking.

It started with this message from Abrahams: “Love your play Jamal and you are a great dude. And yes you definitely deserved to get paid either this year or next. But Pat Mahomes is all I gotta [say]. Super Bowl MVP and same year as u. The fans and team love you. Just don’t be that guy. Best of luck this season. Go Jets!”

The words lit a powder keg. Insulted at being “that guy,” Adams ended his reply with, “Maybe it’s time to move on.”

“I’m not just a ‘me’ kind of guy,” Abrahams said. “That’s just my thing. There’s always a way to handle things in-house. I mentioned Mahomes meaning you are talking about the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP and I don’t hear him complaining about the Kansas City Chiefs or making it public in the media that he hasn’t received a contract yet.”

Abrahams has seen Adams called a crybaby (and worse) by Jets fans, so he doesn’t know why his words hit a sore spot. They traded a couple more messages before Adams blocked Abrahams’ account and deleted his other personal barbs.

The reaction from Jets fans has been split between the rational and those ready to blame Abrahams for running Adams out of town. Even Abraham’s 20-year-old nephew is angry, but he is taking the unexpected attention in stride.

“I tell anyone that is complaining, first of all, if me making a comment like that to Jamal Adams is the reason he wants to be traded it’s ridiculous. If anyone believes that’s actually the reason, they’ve got some serious problems,” Abrahams said.

“He’d leave in a second. He can request a trade, be out of here, never wear green again and burn his stuff — and I don’t think he’d really care, to be honest with you. I’ve spent my entire life rooting for the Jets and I’ve loved so many players through thick and thin with them. I can’t get traded the next day.”

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Instagram sites

Instagram says sites need photographers’ permission to embed posts – The Verge

Instagram says its terms of service don’t grant websites a sublicense to embed other people’s posts. Ars Technica reported yesterday that Instagram’s policies “require third parties to have the necessary rights from applicable rights holders,” according to a company spokesperson. “This includes ensuring they have a license to share this content, if a license is required by law.”

The news follows a legal defeat for Newsweek earlier this week, when a New York judge ruled that the magazine couldn’t dismiss a photographer’s complaint based on Instagram’s terms of service. A different judge previously determined that Instagram could sublicense photographs to sites that embed its posts, protecting the site Mashable from a lawsuit. The recent ruling doesn’t disagree with this conclusion, but Judge Katherine Failla said there wasn’t evidence Instagram did grant such a sublicense.

Now, Instagram is apparently clearing up the situation in photographers’ favor. It didn’t specify which part of its policy covered embedding rights, but the copyright page says users retain “the right to grant permission to use your copyrighted work, as well as the right to prevent other people from using your copyrighted work without permission,” with no mention of exceptions for embedded content. And the site forbids embedding content in a way that “violates any rights of any person,” including “intellectual property rights.”

Instagram told Ars Technica it was “exploring” more ways for users to control embedding. For now, photographers can only stop embeds by making photographs private, which strictly limits their reach on Instagram. Even the Mashable ruling expressed concern with Instagram’s “expansive transfer of rights” from users, so this would address a major underlying factor in both suits.

It doesn’t necessarily mean sites can’t use Instagram photos. Neither judge ruled on what’s called the “server test” — an argument that embedded photos aren’t copying photos in a way that could infringe on copyright because they’re simply pointing to content posted on another site (in this case, Instagram). A tentative 2018 ruling suggested that the server test might not hold up in court, but Newsweek might bring it up as a defense, producing a clearer precedent.

Newsweek still has defenses if the server test fails, including invoking fair use law, so embedding an Instagram post isn’t categorically forbidden. By removing a blanket legal protection, though, that would raise the legal stakes for embedding an Instagram post — and depending on other sites’ policies, make embedding content from any social media platform riskier.

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