I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I first heard about Vine, the much-hyped video-sharing app recently acquired by Twitter. The timing seemed right (Vine fits right into our current obsession with GIFs), but then again so did Cinemagram, and there’s an app I’ve opened only a handful of times since I downloaded it months ago.
Vine, however, has a huge leg up on Cinemagram when it comes to creating content. The onboarding is solid and taking videos is super intuitive; it’s pretty clear what you’re getting yourself into. In 6 seconds, you can get a vine like this! Not too shabby for being one of my first vines.
While it’s easy to create content on Vine, consuming content is, at least initially, slightly confusing. Take your vine stream for instance, which is by default filled with Editor’s Picks when you first join. This makes good onboarding sense as it allows you to skip the ghost town effect and jump right into to consuming and engaging with content. The less satisfying part is what happens when you do indeed start to follow friends on Vine. It’s unclear where those Editor’s Picks fit into your now carefully curated stream. Will they always be there? Do you by default follow those users? Can you remove them from your stream? (This was a question I’m sure many a Vine user were asking themselves after a dildo made it to the Editor’s Pick list in their first few days. #NSWF) It’s a little bit unintuitive, and feels like a lot of work to figure out where those videos came from and where they belong. Luckily, the more you fill your feed with your friends, the less this becomes an issue. [Update, the latest Vine release allows you to follow and unfollow editor’s picks.]
How your content is being shared, and with whom, is also a little less clear. The app’s lack of privacy settings was just one of a series of snafus from its initial launch. The only way to keep your content private is to save it to your phone without publishing it. (There’s no “Save to phone” button, but de-selecting which social platforms to share on will do the trick.)
It’s clear that the Vine team spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to get you to create content, and a little less on the finer details of consuming content. To be honest, I am OK with that. I’d rather Vine keep optimizing for video creating - oh the things they could do!
Because as much as I love how easy it is to start making videos, it is surprisingly difficult to make a GOOD video. There are inevitably a number of awkward cuts and “almost” shots that ruin an otherwise perfectly good vine. While I admire the simplicity of vine-making, having some editing capability would be great. My vines would be much better looking if there were a quick option to save vines as drafts and remove and reshoot certain clips.
I’d also love to have the ability to add soundtrack to my vines. So often I have Hypemachine playing in the background when I’m set to film something, and switching to Vine naturally means that soundtrack disappears. The sound quality on Vine is already great, and indeed part of what makes those videos come to life. (Curiously the default for watching vines with audio is off. This makes sense on desktop, but I’m surprised that on mobile you can only hear vines with headphones on.) Being able to get a little more creative with sound by adding my own soundtrack would take it to the next level.
A lot of folks think Vine was an unnecessary acquisition on Twitter’s part. It’s true that it’s not the same kind of acquisition as when FB acquired Instagram (which was much more obviously strategic in a feels-like-we’re-backed-against-the-wall kind of way). But something about it makes sense. I’m already surprised Vine is getting this much mileage from me, and I suspect it will continue to stick with more and more updates. I’ll be watching to see how Twitter’s strategy for Vine unfolds; it seems to me there’s something to it.