An odd but interesting new photo-and-video sharing iPhone app called Chumkee is officially announcing its public launch today. I know, I know. Another photo-and-video sharing app – just what you need. But Chumkee is doing something a little different here with its concept, user interface and design. This app isn’t about simply “sharing photos with your friends.” It’s about sharing publicly, in an almost Twitter-like format, complete with @usernames and a “reply” feature. In other words, social conversations based around photos and videos.
But that’s not all. The app also ditches the traditional Twitter timeline-esque view for a photo pile design that allows you to move pictures and videos around on the screen or drag them off the side of the screen when you’re done.
When you first load Chumkee, you’re presented with the “everyone” view which is a heaping stack of photos and videos. The videos have live thumbnails, though, which gives the app a sort of “real-time” feel. It seems like all those people are chatting live now, even though that’s not the case.
Although the app supports photos, the majority of the thumbnails I saw upon first launch were videos. You can move these thumbnails around on the screen to discover the ones hidden underneath or you can flick them off the screen when you’re done. While this is not a design that allows you to consume a large amount of media at a glance, it’s actually kind of fun to use. There’s a goofiness and playfulness to Chumkee that so many of today’s apps are lacking.
When you find a video (or photo) you want to see, you just tap it, then tap “zoom” and watch. You can also “like” the item or follow its creator by tapping the included “follow” button. The app’s users are given @usernames, like on Twitter. To see just the people you’re following, tap the drop-down box at the top of the screen to switch between “Everybody,” “Following,” “My Profile,” and “Search.”
As on YouTube, the app supports video replies to prompt conversations between users. This is done via the “Cam Reply” button at the bottom of each item. (Test replies are also supported).
Even though it’s not built around live chatting, Chumkee has that same sort of random, serendipitous and voyeuristic vibe that Chatroulette once offered before things went bad. It would be great if, at some point in the future, you could “go live” and have real-time chats, too. Of course, then it would face that same Chatroulette porn problem. In the meantime, it’s less likely you’ll see the naughtiness of Chatroulette (prior to its cleanup) here now, but there is a “flag” button if you do encounter something odd.
Chumkee is the creation of New York-based C-Vibes, Ltd. It was previously soft-launched for beta-testing purposes, gaining 15,000 users worldwide, 85% of which now engage daily. The app was built by David Aumoier and Thomas Prevot, whose backgrounds are in creative, design and investing. Currently, Chumkee is boot-strapped with support from a few angels.
You can grab the app in iTunes here.