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Time lapse photography has created some truly iconic videos, but making them on a phone is quite the challenge. They require stability in order to look good, which means that someone clutching to a phone with shaky hands would create a hard-to-watch picture. Actually moving with a phone and creating a good time lapse is another issue entirely.

That’s why Instagram launched Hyperlapse, a new stand-alone iPhone and iPad app that makes it easier for people to take time-lapse videos while keeping their footage smooth. The app takes in video from a smartphone’s camera, and then stabilizes it to create a resulting file that still has a sense of motion, but doesn’t make a viewer feel like they’re on a roller coaster ride from hell.

The app’s design is incredibly simple: users are greeted with a direct image from their phone’s viewfinder, along with a single button. Press the button, and the phone starts recording video. Above the record button, there’s an indicator of the video’s length in real time, and how long that will translate to in a 6x speed Hyperlapse.

screen568x568-2Once users hit the button to stop recording, they can then choose the speed of their Hyperlapse playback. The app defaults to 6x, but can go as low as 1x and as high as 12x. Each step of the way, users can preview how it looks so they can ensure they have the setting they want. Once they’ve set up how fast they want to go, they can save the hyperlapse and share it with Facebook or Instagram.

If there’s one thing that frustrates me most about Hyperlapse, it’s that the app doesn’t provide a way for people to preview what their video will look like on Instagram. Sharing to the service requires downsizing the video to a square, which means cutting out a decent-sized chunk of the video.

Since I’m probably going to be sharing the video with Instagram anyway, I’d appreciate a guide for how to frame what I see while I’m shooting, rather than having to crop out a chunk of the frame in post-production.

Part of Hyperlapse’s appeal is the app’s simplicity, but not having this feature can make the resulting videos actively worse when people want to go and share them with friends.

Still, I’ve yet to find another app that simply and elegantly produces great time lapse videos. It’s a must-have for any iPhone videographer’s tool-kit.

Hyperlapse is available for free on the iOS App Store.

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