At the time of writing not everyone’s seeing this in their Twitter app but gradually over the next fortnight or so, a new video feature is being added to Twitter accounts. We think it will be, to use that awful phrase, a “game changer” at least in the world of breaking news. Possibly in the world of selfies too but we’re less excited about that.
That’s because for the first time it’s as easy to Tweet a video (up to 30 seconds long) as it has been to Tweet a text message. The new function enables you either to add videos from your smartphone’s existing collection or hit “record” within Twitter’s message composition screen and film a new video which can even be edited (sort of) within the app before uploading to the world. Here are some screengrabs which illustrate what we’re saying.
First of all, having begun to compose a new Tweet as usual, hit the camera icon to bring up the Twitter camera app:
Then you’ll notice a new, red icon to the bottom left which is shaped vaguely like a movie camera. We recommend you press this:
Now your camera is in video mode. You can toggle between forward and backward cameras if you wish to do a piece to camera rather than capture the scene in front of you. Twitter invites you to press (and hold) the red REC button to capture a clip:
So press and hold the button and the first clip starts capturing.
As you hold the REC button, a timer clicks up to the maximum 30 seconds that you’re permitted. Each new burst of recording you do is represented by a little square icon on the mini-timeline:-
You can delete clips or move them around by dragging and dropping:
Once you’re done, the video gets added to your Tweet and the world can view it (once it’s uploaded)
As we just mentioned, clearly the impact for breaking news will be phenomenal. No more mere static photos, now mobile journalists can snap a few GVs of the scene, add a quick “piece to camera” and get it online to their followers quite literally within seconds (mobile bandwidth providing, of course). That can then be embedded on the news organisation’s website within seconds too.
Yes, we know there’s been Vine for months now but that’s just six seconds and that’s just too short for anything useful (mostly). And yes, Instagram does 15 seconds but the videos aren’t embedded into the Tweets so you end up clicking out to another app .. yawn. Twitter video is just much more integrated and of a useful duration.
The ability to add video from the phone’s library (“camera roll” in iPhone-speak) also means you could choose to film and edit in any other app on the phone first before bringing it into a Tweet – but the joy of the new feature, we think, comes from the simplicity of shooting a few seconds within Twitter and performing a basic edit of those chunks before firing it out.
Interestingly, the native video format is square – 720 x 720 pixels we’re lead to believe – so it shouldn’t matter whether your phone’s held landscape or portrait. Obviously those in TV-land, desperate to screen grab for their upcoming broadcast, will bemoan this but it’s better than the videos being purely portrait for sure. And those imported videos CAN be landscape if you want.
We’ve had a good play with the app today and it’s fast and neat. Like Vine, you must hold down the record button in order to film and a little counter gently ticks up how many seconds of your 30″ allocation has been used up. Stop and record another chunk and they appear as squares on a mini-timeline which can then be re-arranged by dragging and dropping, or deleted by dragging upwards to the main video window.
The quality’s not great once it’s been compressed and sent, and the audio suffers from an annoying glitch between each chunk but this is something Twitter can easily fix should they be so minded.
One thing we do wish it offered to the person who posts the Tweet is a counter of how many times it’s been viewed and by how many unique users but again this must surely be functionality that Twitter will add even if it ends up being some kind of paid-for premium option.