What I See In Your Future, Vine (Voiceover, Android, And Front-Facing Camera)

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Dear Vine,

We’ve grown close over the last month. We’ve had so many great times together. You’ve helped me break news, have some LOLs, get creative, and even crowdsource information thanks to your awesome integration with Twitter.

But this isn’t about your parent, it’s about us. I want us to be better, and there are some things I need from you that I’m just not getting. I know that somewhere in there, deep in the code, lie the answers to my prayers. I even saw a Voiceover feature (something I’m desperate for) slide up as a button alongside the “Cancel” button after some sort of glitch, so I know you have it in you.

All that said, I’m writing you this letter, hoping it appeals to your sensitive side, so that we can move forward with an even stronger, more loving relationship than before.

Here’s what I want:

Android

As an avid iPhone user, I’m not one to complain about iOS exclusives. But Vine is about connecting with friends, and considering Instagram’s growth after migrating to Android, I’d expect to see a lot more of my friends pop up on Vine once you guys build out an Android app.

I know it’s on the way, considering that Vine recently announced it was hiring a handful of developers, one of whom must be an Android engineer. It’s only a matter of time, but if I had to prioritize, I’d say an Android app should be on the top of the to-do list.

Front-facing camera

photoThis seems obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Vine needs a front-facing camera option. I’m not the only one who feels this way — this seems to be the most popular request in Vine’s iTunes reviews section. And it makes sense.

Vine is aimed at creative mobile video creation, which often means filming things other than yourself. This isn’t Snapchat, after all. However, creativity can only increase when you give users the option to switch between front and rear-facing cameras. The best case scenario would be the ability to switch back and forth while recording, but even if you had to choose between front or rear cameras for each Vine, it would be better than no option at all.

Adding Voiceover

Hello!?! How am I supposed to make a Harlem Shake video on Vine if there’s no Voiceover feature?

Voiceover is when you add new audio to existing video. This could be music, a different voice, or other canned audio, but it’s value lies in the fact that it creates a more professional end-product and gives the creator more control.

Voiceover has always seemed like an attractive feature for Vine, but the other day, I realized that I’m probably not the only one thinking that. Vine has plenty of glitches and bugs right now, and somehow (I can’t seem to replicate it) I landed myself on a new menu, featuring “Voiceover” and “Edit” buttons.

(If you’d like to try to replicate, here’s what I did: I opened the app, which was not currently running, and clicked the camera/record button. I then decided I didn’t want to Vine, so I pressed the top right X button to cancel. Along with the usual big, red Cancel button, I also saw two grey buttons above it labeled “Voiceover” and “Edit.” If you see this happen, please email me at Jordan@techcrunch.com.)

After speaking with various iOS dev friends, I’ve learned that it’s absolutely plausible for Vine to have features already residing within the code that we just can’t see yet. Twitter does not comment on upcoming features, whether real or imagined, but I know what I saw.

Given this information, a voiceover feature makes perfect sense. Imagine being able to shoot your vine, and then go around once more adding a voiceover (music, your own voice, or whatever). It has to happen.

Bug fixes

Vine is one month old, so I don’t expect it to be perfect. However, the app has been in development for-e-ver, and I’m a bit displeased at the frequency of bugs and glitches. These include a sudden crash, or an inability for Vine to load a keyboard for the caption. The most common bug I’ve seen is the camera freezing after opening up the Vine “record” option.

As I said, apps crash. Shit happens. But Vine is even more urgent than Instagram. You aren’t capturing a single scene, but rather motion. So Vine needs to work instantly. When I see a dude shaving in the street (which I naturally must Vine), I’m already losing valuable seconds pulling the phone out and launching the app. If Vine freezes, I’ve lost my opportunity.

Enough lost opportunities leads to low usage. I don’t need to spell it out any further. Vine, please get this solved.

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@mentions

Seriously? I thought Vine was a social network. I also thought it was owned by Twitter, the original founder of the @mention.

Yet, it would seem that you can’t tag or mention anyone in a Vine, whether it’s in your caption or in a comment. One of the best parts of Instagram isn’t the posting of a picture, but watching reactions come in. I have much less optimism when posting a Vine simply because I can’t target engagement across my friends.

The fact that mentions weren’t in the first iteration of the app (yet hashtags, which led to #vineporn, were present) makes me quite disappointed. Let’s get this fixed.

Save/Preview mid-recording

The idea of Vine is quite ingenious. More than just a single clip, the app lets you string together a number of clips with easy-to-understand editing tools, namely your thumb. Because it’s so simple, yet so compelling, users want to do incredibly interesting things with the app.

However, the more in-depth you get (as in, the more clips you string together), the harder it is to make sure you’ve got what you want. But what if you could preview what you’ve already recorded before you’re finished? It would be nice to shoot a clip, make sure it’s how you wanted it, and then continue recording.

It’s just a thought.

Using Camera Roll Footage

This feature is less of a request and more of a conversation starter, as people reviewing Vine seem to be clamoring for this ability. I disagree with them.

Yes, it would be nice if I could pull in earlier recordings to make more creative vines. However, Vine has an ephemeral quality to it, much like Snapchat, which makes vines very compelling. When I see a celebrity post a vine, it has that Twitter effect of knowing exactly where that person is and what they’re doing. It’s powerful. Using old footage from the camera roll would detract from that.

Secondly, Vine is purposefully built with simplicity in mind. Adding a new editing layer into the mix, in the form of old video content, could make the UI a bit too complex for casual users.

Tumblr

Instagram’s integration of Tumblr likely spawned the creation of thousands of fashion blogs, food blogs, etc. The idea that you can take a picture, add a caption, a hashtag, and post it to your personal website is not only quick and easy, it’s genius. So what if we could do that with video?

We can! Come on, Vine. This is an easy one, and people’s personal blogs will instantly become so much more interesting.

A web profile

When Instagram first launched its web presence, I was on the fence over whether or not this was necessary. Now I find myself using the web profiles regularly if I want to see a particular person’s Instagram library. Browsing through the chronological stream within the app is great, but so is the ability to locate a single person via the web.

With Vine, I believe that video consumption is more suited to web. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy scrolling through my Vine stream, but I’m much more likely to click through from Twitter on my desktop to a vine than I am to randomly scroll through the app. It’s also just a cleaner, better viewing experience on desktop.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it seems clear that Vine is more for creation, and Twitter is for consumption. Adding web profiles isn’t a high priority like the above, but it would be nice.

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So, Vine, what do you say? Can we make this work?

Things have moved quickly, but I believe in our future. Sure, we have problems, just like every other relationship, but I think we can make it through. Do you?

PS- Don’t be jealous of Instagram. I know I brought up my ex a lot in this letter, but it’s only to make us better. I love you, Vine. Don’t be insecure.

Update: