New Mobile App Eye-C Lets You “Play” Twitter Hashtags

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Eye-C is a new mobile application for iPhone and Android that lets you “play” Twitter hashtags on your phone, TV, PC or set-top box. The service looks for any media associated with a particular hashtag, then creates a playlist of sorts (a “taglist”) which allows you to watch the videos, listen to the music or view the photos associated with a particular hashtag. For example, a search for #occupywallst brings up a playlist of photos and videos of the protests alongside associated news reports.

I have to admit, the pitch for this service left me a little underwhelmed at first. The company clearly struggles to define what this service is and what it does in layman’s terms. Don’t believe me? Read the app’s description in iTunes or the Android Market. Better yet, read the press release, if you want to see overly flowery PR speak gone bad. (People, why is it so hard to say “it does X?” It doesn’t “take the work out of deciding what to play next.” It plays the media associated with a hashtag. KISS.)

As I understand it, though, the new app lets you search for keywords or Twitter hashtags in order to find media people are sharing, like YouTube videos on online photos. Then, you press the “play” button at the bottom to begin watching. The content can also be streamed to other devices, like TVs, via DLNA or AirPlay.

UGH: See update below. 

Because Apple’s iOS5 has built-in Twitter integration, the idea is that people will begin tweeting a lot more about the multimedia content they’re viewing on their phones. This app makes that content easier to find and watch, in theory.

The idea itself is not a bad one – turning Twitter hashtags into a playlist. But the app itself, like the pitch, needs work. In tests, I found things were slow to load and the interface confusing. (Why does the Timeline include some non-hashtagged items, for example? Why does the hashtag show up underneath the “taglist” in some search results? Aren’t they the same thing? See photo to right.) Frankly, the app’s design wasn’t all that appealing, either.

That said, there’s still promise in this idea of making playable Twitter lists that can be streamed to iPads and TVs in addition to being played on mobile. I was just hoping for something a bit better executed than Eye-C.

More info on Eye-C is available here.

The app is the creation of Eyecon, which has been focused on more geeky “connected home” offerings until now. That explains a lot.

Update: Actually, the ability to search for Twitter hashtags and related content comes in a later release. Today, the app only supports hashtags placed in comments on items shared in the app. I have yet to discover the in-app sharing mechanism.

According to Eyecon’s VP of Marketing Alec Marshall, the service uses a similar structure to Twitter hashtags, but is not dependent on Twitter.

Here’s how he says it (very simply) works:

1. You find videos you think are interesting in YouTube, Facebook, Picasa, and more sources coming soon.
2. You play those videos in Eye-C on your mobile phone, connected TV, Apple TV or other Airplay and DLNA devices.
3. You can play them individually or as streams, represented by lists in our app.  Lists can come from your friends, or they can come from users tagging a video with a certain term, like #occupywallst.
4. If you want to add another video, song, or picture to that list, you just find it and tag it #occupywallst.  The more people do that, the longer and more interesting the list becomes.