Video on Instagram, with filters

It wasn't really the surprise that Facebook had been hoping for, after TechCrunch had speculated that today's announcement would involve Instagram and video, and be a competitor to Twitter's Vine. So what does Instagram's video-clip sharing feature have to offer? Well, first and foremost there are filters. Thirteen of them to be precise. How could there not be?

Then users can choose the length of their videos, anywhere between three and 15 seconds.

Clips can be stitched together to form a collage.

And unlike Vine, videos won't loop.

Finally, if you're using the service on an iOS device, you can deploy the Cinema Stabilsation function, to help reduce camera-shake.

My guess is that it won't tempt people to Instagram who weren't already there, but it might well eat into Vine's market of existing Instagram users.

JPEGmini - like JPEG, but mini

JPEGmini logo

Google might be trying to take the file format world by storm with WebP, but an Israeli tech company, ICVT, would much rather that we took a look at their innovative JPEG-compressing technology, JPEGmini. It takes JPEG files and makes them smaller, without any perceptible loss of quality. As they put it, it’s your photos on a diet. JPEGmini uses baseline JPEG technology, so provided that your device supports JPEG, it’ll support JPEGmini, too.

There’s a maximum of 80% compression achieveable, but in order to manage that, you have to be working with a file that’s resolution in excess of eight megapixels. The smaller the file, the less compression is achievable.

JPEGmini works by assessing the photo to determine just how much compression it can get away with before the image quality becomes noticeably poorer. Then a unique JPEG encoder works its magic and creates the most compact version of the image that’s possible under current JPEG standards.

For the developers – Sharon Carmel and Dror Gill – the idea is to save storage space, to speed up email transfers of photos, and to save money by reducing the time it takes to move data from one place to another. You know, it’d be even more effective and efficient if it weren’t a web-based application and could be downloaded as a desktop app. Cos at the moment we’re all uploading and downloading photos in order to compress them, and when you’re on a slow connection, well it’s like pulling teeth. But the idea, that’s very cool.

You can go have a play and squash some pictures over at JPEGmini, for free. Let me know what you think.

(Headsup to TechCrunch)

Use #3,194 for your iPhone camera - calorie counting

Meal Snap

And now for something completely different, Ladies and Gentlemen: an iPhone app that tells you how many calories there are in your chicken and salad sandwich, or your macaroni cheese, or your handful of dried apricots. You snap a picture, send it off to the magical world of Meal Snap, and they respond giving you an approximation of how many calories it contains.

They don’t enlighten us as to exactly how they calculate the calories in your bowl of porridge or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. It’s all down to magic. And the photo from your iPhone.

Did I ever think that there were so many uses for an iPhone camera. Nope! Will I be using it myself? Not a hope in hell. I’ve never counted a calorie in my life. But I bet I know some people who’ll be falling over themselves to try it out.

£1.79 or $2.99 from the App Store.

(Headsup to TechCrunch.)