Instagram has begun the first step in making videos more interactive by introducing automatic captions on video posts in your feed. This new feature, which began appearing to select accounts earlier this week, makes it easier to understand what’s being said in a video when you’re busy scrolling through your newsfeed and don’t have time to sit down and actually watch it. Now, while you’re scrolling through your feed, you can skim through the captions provided by Instagram’s algorithm and get an idea of what’s going on without having to actually stop and listen. Instagram Presents Automatic Captions in Video Feed

What are videos?

So, what are videos? You’re not recording a video with your smartphone; rather, you can now use Instagram to record and post short clips of up to 15 seconds. Additionally, users can now record a few seconds of video before posting to add context or build suspense (try it). Users will be able to choose from three speeds: 1x (regular speed), 2x and 3x.

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Why did Instagram introduce them?

That’s probably a question for Facebook, which acquired Instagram back in 2012. The social network has been steadily adding features to Instagram since then, including video—that is, if you can call videos on Instagram videos. They can run as short as 15 seconds, which seems more like a Vine than anything else. However, it was only with Thursday’s update that Instagram finally introduced sound and auto-play captions on these tiny clips.

Where do we get our captions from?

When we launched auto-captioning, we were using Google’s Cloud Natural Language API for our captioning service. When working with short videos and short captions, that worked well enough. But we started hearing from people that it was often wrong (sometimes hilariously so) or didn’t make sense with certain languages.

Instagram Presents Automatic Captions in Video Feed
Instagram Presents Automatic Captions in Video Feed

What can go wrong?

First, there’s potential for confusion with words like favorites. Also, we haven’t seen them get funky with video captions. Can you imagine captioning a video of a baby crying? I guess anything is possible but…I wouldn’t want to be responsible for that.

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How can I make my content better and more accessible?

In a post today, Instagram announced it is testing a new feature that will add auto-generated captions to videos posted directly to feeds. The move is intended to make video more accessible—especially for those who speak languages other than English. In tests so far, people have loved how easy it is to use and have provided helpful feedback, Instagram said.

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