Camera enthusiasts may well have noticed a growing level of interest and excitement being generated by hyperlapse photography over the past couple of years. A new app from Instagram launched today, offering an alternative for anyone who wants to create a hyperlapse sequence, without a digital SLR, a copy of Adobe After Effects and a healthy dose of patience.
Hyperlapse from Instagram is only available for iOS at launch, and unfortunately there is no chance of an Android version being made available in the immediate future. Instagram have been resolute, placing the blame on Android itself, claiming the operating system lacks necessary camera and gyroscope APIs.
The explanation as to why Hyperlapse is iOS-only has been received sceptically by some within the Android community. The scepticism is likely a result of Instagram’s previously-poor record of supporting Android as a platform.
The Android version of Instagram was released just shy of 18 months after the photo-sharing app was first made available via Apple’s App Store. Just days after the debut of Instagram for Android, it was announced that the company would be acquired by Facebook.
At the time the purchase was announced, Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook, said that the team behind Instagram would be allowed to retain its independence.
“[…] We’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently,” he said.
What is hyperlapse?
Hyperlapse is a photographic technique based on time-lapse shooting. It is taken from the user’s changing perspective, however, unlike traditional time-lapse footage which captured from a stationary position.
So with traditional time-lapse shooting, a camera might be set up at the end of a street to record the activity of pedestrians throughout a day. In the case of hyperlapse photography, someone would walk down a street, capturing the changes in activity as their own perspective shifts.
With both standard time-lapse and hyperlapse photography, images of a scene are captured at a specified frame-rate. In the final output, footage is played back at a much faster frame-rate than was used originally.
The key difference between time-lapse and hyperlapse photography is that in the case of the former footage is captured from a static position, whilst with the latter it is recorded from the changing perspective of the photographer.
Alternatives to Instagram Hyperlapse for Android
There are a few alternatives to Instagram Hyperlapse available on Google Play right now, the most well-established of which is Lapse It.
Lapse It predates Instagram’s Hyperlapse effort by some margin, and was reviewed by The Gadget Show in the UK back in 2012. It is an excellent app and can be used to capture Hyperlapse video with an Android smartphone.
But Lapse It is better suited to more traditional time-lapse photography, and to get the most out of the app, ideally the device being used needs to be attached to a tripod. Whilst products like the Joby TightGrip tripod adapter are compatible with an extensive range of Android smartphones, this type of solution is not always practical.
And the beauty of Instagram Hyperlapse is its ability to produce stunning videos without the need for any form of external stabilisation, such as a tripod.
The reason that videos from Hyperlapse look so good is the image stabilisation algorithm that is used. This was developed from image stabilisation technology Instagram acquired in 2013, after the purchase of a startup named Luma.
The stabilisation algorithm employed by Instagram Hyperlapse uses data from a device’s gyroscope in order to monitor – and compensate for – juddering. Traditional methods rely on resource-intensive software to analyse video on a frame-by-frame basis.
As with any popular app – particularly those not available for Android – it is likely that plenty of alternatives to Hyperlapse will be made available via the Play Store. How good these prove to be is another matter, and developers will have to work exceptionally hard just to match the performance of the already-established Lapse It.
The fact that there is no official Android version of Hyperlapse in the works does offer an opportunity, though.
Android is the dominant mobile OS in terms of market share. Producing an effective Android alternative to Hyperlapse could offer developers the chance to establish a very significant foothold within a huge market.