When two former Instagram engineers team up on a camera, unsurprisingly, it's the app that really counts.
That's the premise of Rylo, a new 360-degree camera created by two former Instagram engineers. It launched this week after two years in development.
At first glance, the pocket-sized camera doesn't look too different from other 360-degree cameras. Capable of shooting 18 MP photos and 4K video at 30 fps, its specs are about what you'd expect from a $499 camera.
But the real magic happens when you pair Rylo with its accompanying iPhone app (the company says an Android version is also in the works). The app imports your footage and allows you control nearly every aspect of the video after you've shot it, directly from your phone.
Though the camera captures 360-degree video, that capability is meant more to provide added flexibility with the final product than it is to produce a fully immersive video. Anything you eventually create can be the same "flattened" videos you'd typically share to Facebook or Instagram.
A "follow" feature allows you to choose a part of the video you want to focus on, and Rylo's app adjusts to focus on following the subject (this is similar to what GoPro's 360-degree Fusion camera does). There's also a "frontback" feature that captures a sort of picture-in-picture shot to show what's behind and in front of the camera, simulataneously.
The best feature, however, is one called "points," which lets you create the perfect shot by tapping on different areas of the video you want to focus on. The app works behind the scenes to stabilize the shot and change the perspective so that only the shots you want make it to the final cut.
You can also turn your raw footage into a stabilized, professional-looking time lapse video (not surprising, considering Rylo's CEO Alex Karpenko created Instagram's Hyperlapse app) or opt to share your full 360-degree clip.
I'll have to wait for a full review to really put Rylo, and its app, through its paces, but I walked away from my first demo seriously impressed with the camera and its potential to make video-editing as easy as posting to Instagram.