Observer App of the Week for 2/1-2/8: Vine

Sheehan Hannan, A&E Editor

Publisher: Vine Labs Inc.

Platform: iOS (Optimized for iPhone 5)


Last week, Twitter subsidy Vine Labs released their much anticipated video sharing app. Since their acquisition, the startup has been on virtual blackout, building anticipation for the release. But now it’s here. In a word, it’s amazing.

Given, most other social networks do video sharing of some sort, including lesser-used ones like Pheed. However, Vine is the first centered exclusively on video and is a strategic purchase for Twitter. The mostly text-centered social network is attempting to consolidate their platform, restricting non-native clients and trying different ways of actually making money. Vine is a definitive part of that strategy.

Due to Twitter’s ownership, Vine is directly integrated into the Twitter feed, with Vine videos (or simply Vines) able to play in twitter cards. When creating an account, even, log in is completed with a twitter handle. But beyond that integration, Vine is a beautifully crafted app and a ready example of simple, functional design.

Vine centers on an Instagram-like feed in which you scroll through videos from people you follow, with Vines autoplaying as you scroll. The feed has many of the same social features as Instagram, with likes, comments, etc. At the moment, though, the social side is not directly integrated with Twitter, but I’d be willing to bet that the two will eventually mesh in a more direct way in the coming weeks.

What makes Vine unique among video sharing apps, however, is the distinct way it records videos. When recording a Vine, the user must hold a finger on the screen. This seems a little clumsy to begin with, but it’s actually intensely useful. Namely, it results in a built-in editing system, in which the user can insert a cut by simply removing their finger and pointing the phone at something else. It’s simple, revolutionary, and has already resulted in some interesting things like Vine-lapses and mini how-to’s.

The app still has a fair ways to go. For instance, it currently has no auto-rotate, so any Vine recorded horizontally stays that way, resulting in sideways videos in the vertical feed. Post-release, it was also a little crash-prone, though the issue seems to have disappeared due to recent updates. Since its release on Jan. 16, it has been updated five times, so most of the fatal issues have been ironed out. These issues seem minor, however, in comparison to the app’s possibilities.

In relation to loading speeds, the app is fast and responsive. I have experienced minimal lag in loading Vines over Wi-Fi. The performance is remarkably similar on Sprint’s 3G cellular network, which is fairly impressive, given the fact that it’s essentially streaming video.

Interestingly enough, Facebook seems to perceive Vine as a direct threat. They have disabled their friend importation system and don’t allow Vines to appear on the Facebook news feed as videos (they appear as links instead).

Vine is the very definition of how to do something cool with your phone. It’s easy to use, with none of the fuss of more monstrous video apps. Perhaps more powerfully, Vine’s Twitter integration opens up new possibilities for sharing with friends and interested strangers. If anything, that’s the real strength of Vine: making video sharing social and accessible.