I’m going to start this post off with a bit of a controversial statement: Apple, Google, and Microsoft should join hands against… portrait/vertical video! It’s a bigger usability problem than you think. Vertical video is fine for consumption on modern, widescreen mobile devices, but it is a literal ‘pain in the neck’ on desktops, and laptops. Since it is highly inconvenient to adjust your monitor’s orientation, you have no other option but to crane your neck in awkward angles for prolonged periods of time to watch those baby videos Uncle Grant sends every other week.
I am yet to find anyone who consciously prefers vertical video over horizontal as a design decision. The average user can’t be trusted with such a decision, because portrait video only inconveniences others, as the video gets shared around. Humans prefer horizontal widescreen video because that is how our eyes are designed to look at things. Cinema evolved from 4:3 video to 16:9, 2.21:1, and the like over the past 3-4 decades for this very reason!
Despite everything being in favor of horizontal videos, I don’t see smartphone manufacturers removing vertical video support from their mobile OSes. The team at ‘Evil Window Dog’ sensed opportunity here, and so have come up with a neat app called Horizon. The app will ensure your video remains widescreen-horizontal at all times, by cleverly cropping non-essential parts.
Left: Rotate & Scale. Right: Just rotate.
Horizon comes with two recording modes – ‘Rotate & scale’, and ‘Just rotate’. The former dynamically scales the cropped area video as you change device orientation, resulting in wider but slightly jittery videos. The latter statically selects a crop-size, which dramatically reduces viewing angles but produces more stable video.
iPhone 5 and beyond support up to 1080p, while 4S and older only get up to 720p.
In any case, you get to avoid portrait videos. Selecting between the two is a matter of preference.
You can also combine a ‘disabled’ mode with 720p HD res if you, like me, find Apple restricting the stock Camera app to 1080p Full HD videos inconvenient due to low storage space. You can, of course, select VGA resolution, too!
Besides this, Horizon also supports filters, different aspect ratios, adjustable video qualities, and Autofocus + Auto Exposure lock.
Even though I ensure my videos are always recorded horizontally, I still see Horizon as an excellent, dedicated video recording app that is worth your attention – if you dislike the over simplicity of the stock Camera app.
Horizon is available for $0.99 on the App Store.
Be sure to let us know what you think of Horizon by leaving a comment in the comments section below.