Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) released an app called Hyperlapse last month that makes it extremely easy to shoot time-lapse videos on your smartphone. In fact, that's all it does. There's no feed of your friends' videos or a place to put notes or comments. It just shoots time-lapse videos. When you're done, you can opt to upload your creation to Facebook or Instagram or just save it to your iPhone's memory.
With iOS 8, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is hopping on the time-lapse bandwagon, building the feature directly into the native camera app. It's worth noting that Hyperlapse is currently only for iOS, and restrictions in Android will prevent it from showing up on other phones anytime soon.
Did Apple just kill Facebook's Hyperlapse before it even got off the ground?
It's not as if Facebook didn't know this was coming
Apple previewed iOS 8 this summer at the Worldwide Developers Conference, and developers quickly got their hands on beta versions soon after. The time-lapse feature was in the beta.
The Hyperlapse team must have thought it could give people a better implementation of time-lapse than Apple. And to a degree, it did.
The biggest advantage Hyperlapse has over the new camera app in iOS 8 is that it's customizable without being complicated. The app functions by shooting a normal video, and then letting the user choose how fast to play the video back, selecting every other frame (for 2x), or sixth frame (6x), or whatever the user wants. This lets the user preview the video at different speeds.
On the native camera app, Apple automatically selects how quickly the video will play back. It will take a picture at a specific rate instead of shooting video and then stitch the pictures together. This method may be harder for novices to master than Hyperlapse's.
On the other hand, Apple has very detailed knowledge of the hardware capabilities of its smartphones. That means it can optimize its software for shooting time-lapse videos better than Facebook. What's more, the camera app comes pre-installed, so if it does the job well enough it doesn't matter if Hyperlapse is a smidge better.
This could be just as good for Facebook, though
Apple's introduction of time-lapse video in iOS 8 could actually benefit Facebook. The purpose of Hyperlapse, after all, is to increase the number of video uploads on Facebook and Instagram.
People have already demonstrated a penchant for uploading videos to Facebook, with the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Facebook is seeing a big increase in the number of user-submitted videos after it stealthily rolled out auto-play videos in its news feed. Since June, Facebook has seen an average of 100 million video uploads each month.
That number ought to continue climbing with the introduction of easily accessible time-lapse videos (whether that's on Hyperlapse or through the iOS 8 camera). Time-lapse videos are extremely popular on short-form video sharing app Vine, and there's clearly demand for the feature. Giving people another way to be creative and share should only benefit Facebook.
The drawback for Facebook
If Apple does stop Hyperlapse dead in its tracks, it does hurt Facebook a little. One part of the app constellation strategy is to dominate the real estate in the app launcher. This reminds users of all the uses and tools Facebook has, and gets them to use its services more. With Hyperlapse it creates a virtuous cycle of video uploads and app downloads.
Since Hyperlapse wasn't monetized itself, and doesn't look like it will be monetized, Facebook cares much more about the video uploads. Still, Facebook will be dependent on a third party to drive video uploads to its services, which is less than ideal. But when that third party is as big as Apple, things could certainly be worse.
Adam Levy owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.