Google’s Slide team has been busy. In the past few months, they’ve unleashed a range of social apps meant to fulfill different needs. But the strange thing is that Google hasn’t done a thing to promote any of them. That has been on purpose. Google is giving the Slide team, which operates on its own within Google, room to maneuver and fly under the radar. But with Photovine, they’re actually communicating a bit. And for good reason — the app is pretty slick.
If you’ve heard of Photovine before, it’s either because you read that Google registered the domain, or that they pushed the app into the App Store. But until now, the app has been in closed beta testing with a very limited number of users. Not anymore. As of now, the app is open for all to sign up.
So what is Photovine? It’s a photo-sharing application for iOS that puts an emphasis on “vines”. That is, photo-centric moments or ideas that connect you with other users. Yes, that sounds a bit pretentious. And the best way to understand it is to watch the video below. But think of it this way: you take a picture of your favorite cologne. This prompts another user to take a picture of their favorite fragrances. And that prompts another user to do the same. Etc. It’s more or less theme-based picture-taking.
This is an interesting concept because it spurs users into action. With an open-ended picture app you can take a picture of anything, and to some users, that’s daunting. What do you take a picture of when you can take a picture of anything? With Photovine, the experience is more guided. Or, if you wish to take a picture of anything, you can simply start your own vine.
In Google’s view, this amounts to storytelling with pictures. Maybe a picture tells the story of your “perfect weekend”. Someone else sees that and takes a picture to tell their own story of the same idea. Fundamentally, the idea stems from the staring up at the stars at night and wondering who else is doing the same thing? Point being, there are thousands, if not millions, of people around the world doing what you’re doing at the same time. Photovine’s goal is to connect those people.
If you’ve heard of the app Piictu, this is similar. But unlike so many Google products, Photovine is very well designed. In fact, it’s one of the more slick-looking iOS photo apps out there right now — again, just to be clear, technically Google-made.
Naturally, none of this ensures that app will find success. But it’s a compelling idea with a good user interface. It reminds me a bit of Treeshouse, a former Y Combinator-backed project — which shouldn’t be surprising at all considering that the founder of that startup, Chrys Bader, now works for Google/Slide on this project.
And yes, Photovine includes ways to share images out to Facebook or Twitter. But the actual social graph is their own.
You can find Photovine in the App Store here.
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Slide, founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, makes widgets that help people express themselves. The company took a big risk in 2006 when they gave users the ability to auto-insert slide shows into their MySpace pages and blasting bulletins out to all their friends. They did this by asking users to hand over their MySpace credentials, and doing all the hard work for them. This is a clear violation of MySpace’s terms of service, though, and most people...