Instagram Launches Boomerang, A Standalone App for Animating Photos

Facebook-owned Instagram took a swipe at Vine and Apple’s new live photos Wednesday with the launch of Boomerang, a new app that lets users quickly produce and share animated video loops from photos.

Boomerang lets users shoot a burst of photos, and animates them to short one-second videos that are looped playing forward and in reverse. It’s one of those things that’s best understood when you see it:

Boomerang actually creates short MP4 video clips instead of Gifs. To display correctly within this article, this particular Boomerang was then converted to an animated Gif.

The app isn’t itself social in that it doesn’t offer users a dedicated stream to share and discover other Boomerangs. Instead, users can share their creations to Facebook or Instagram, or even export them to third-party services.

Interesting about Boomerang is that it goes back to the original vision of Vine: Twitter launched its six-second video sharing service with the intend to let everyone create and share short clips. But instead, it became a hotbed for short-form content creators, with many users now just watching Vines instead of creating their own. If successful, Boomerang may become that media creation tool that Vine wanted to be at its inception.

Boomerang can also be seen as an attempt to steal some thunder from Apple’s new live photos feature, which the company maker introduced last month in conjunction with the launch of the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Both phones automatically record short video sequences whenever a user takes a photo. Upon tapping that photo, it becomes alive, showing what the subject did in the seconds before and after the photo was taken.

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