Vine gets new camera features and 'protected' posts

The features comprise the app's biggest update yet, Vine says

Vine, Twitter's mobile video service, has just gained several new features designed to make it easier to shoot with the app and to share videos more widely.

The changes announced Wednesday include new camera tools, 15 new categories for finding and uploading videos, an "on the rise" feature for discovering up-and-coming users, and a "revining" tool that works like retweeting to share posts with others.

The enhancements mark the biggest update so far for Vine, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Colin Kroll said in a blog post, adding that more new features will be coming soon.

The new camera has three new functions: a grid to make composing shots easier, a new focus tool and a "ghost" mode, which overlays a faded version of the previously recorded shot onto the frame, to show people where they stopped recording last.

The new channels include 15 different genres, such as comedy, music, nature, food and, inevitably, cats -- that users can browse though or use when submitting their own videos.

The update also includes a setting called protected posts that will reduce the amount of sharing on the service. Most Vine posts today are public, but people can now turn this setting on so that only people who users approve can see their posts.

Vine's new features were rolled out Wednesday on iOS, with protected posts coming to Android devices later in the day, Vine's Kroll said. The remaining features will be coming to Android next week, he said.

The changes come less than two weeks after the emergence of a major Vine competitor in the form of video on Instagram, Facebook's mobile photo-sharing app. With Instagram video, iOS users have the option of applying a steadicam-like effect to make their videos appear less shaky and also have 13 filters to choose from. Those features currently do not exist on Vine.

Vine videos can be three to six seconds long and loop upon playback; Instagram videos can be three to 15 seconds in length and do not loop.

Following the Instagram video announcement, the number of links on Twitter to Vine videos dropped considerably, according to social analytics data from Topsy.

Twitter launched Vine in January, as a way for people to share quick videos in keeping with the site's 140-character limit.

Yahoo is also looking to become a strong player in mobile video. On Tuesday the company announced its acquisition of Qwiki, an app that makes short movies out of people's previously shot photos and videos.

For these Internet companies, "video is going to be a big growth area into the future," said Karsten Weide, an analyst with IDC.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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