On 20 June, Instagram introduced IGTV, a standalone app for watching long-form vertical videos. It will support videos of up to 10 minutes playback, which will go up to an hour’s playback for creators with a large number of followers. Instagram also announced that it now has 1 billion users.
As soon as you open the app, it starts playing a video selected according to your preferences. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said that the app is designed to give people a better experience while watching videos on their mobile phones, saying that most video apps make you search for the kind of content you want to watch unlike television, that starts playing as soon as you turn it on.
This however, can also give Instagram a powerful space to sell ads, although there will be no ads on it to start with.
The videos on IGTV will be pre-recorded. It does not have a live feature yet, but we expect one to come out soon. IGTV is a standalone app as well as an option within the Instagram app (they are going with a Boomerang-like strategy). This can also be an attempt by Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, to intensify their fight with Google and take on the world’s largest video sharing platform, YouTube.
How to Start Using IGTV
As soon as you open the app for the first time, you are welcomed to an introductory disclaimer page – Welcome to IGTV. It tells you that you can now watch videos from your favourite creators and find new videos and creators you'll like. The app automatically connects to the Instagram account already logged in to your account, along with an option to log in with a different account.
The button to switch to IGTV directly from Instagram is visible right next to the direct messages icon on the top right corner of the app’s home screen.
Upon logging in, you are taken to the app's home screen, which starts playing the first suggested video automatically, with more suggestions displayed as thumbnails at the bottom. The interface is much like Instagram's discover feature.
The video playing will be a suggested video, owing to the kind of content you consume on Instagram. There will be a search bar and four tabs below the search bar:
- For You - Like Instagram's discover feature, will suggest and play videos depending on the kind of content you consume. The first video to play upon opening the app falls under this category.
- Following – Recent videos uploaded by the people you follow.
- Popular - This tab will show you trending videos on Instagram TV.
- Continue Watching - Continue from where you left off, play the videos you left incomplete the last time you were on the app.
The videos appear in rectangular thumbnails on the bottom half of your screen, click on the one you want to watch, and it goes into full screen mode.
On the lower left hand of the playback, there are the same three buttons to like, comment and share the video. There will also be an ‘options’ button, in case you want to report a video or copy the link. You will also see the number of views and comments right above these controls.
Swipe up to go back to the browsing screen from playback.
To search on IGTV, just tap the search bar on the home page and type in the name of the creator you want to watch. This is how it will look:
To upload your own videos, tap on your profile picture on top of the suggested videos on the homepage.
As you click on your profile picture, IGTV asks you to create a channel, where it will tell you that it is a platform for longer, vertical videos in all the three steps, before you can select the video you want to upload.
After selecting the video you want to upload from your gallery, IGTV asks you to give the video a title, a description as well as an option to share the video on Facebook.
The playback on the IGTV app is remarkable, it does give you a completely immersive experience of watching videos in vertical format. What we didn’t like about the app is that you cannot search for videos using keywords and hashtags. It will show the name of creators or channels whenever you type on search.
With this app, Instagram does take the fight to YouTube to try and become the number one content sharing platform, after having beaten Snapchat at its own game. Another fact to consider is that IGTV is ideal for vertical videos, something YouTube is yet to give a push.