A mobile application called WeMesh wants to make watching videos more of a real-time social experience by allowing you and your friends to watch videos together in perfect sync, while also texting and voice chatting. Today, the app aggregates videos from YouTube, but the plan is to soon expand that selection to include videos from your Facebook News Feed, then other video services like Vimeo and Dailymotion, as well your own videos from your phone’s photo album.
The goal is to expand WeMesh’s social video viewing to premium video services, too.
The idea for WeMesh comes from an unlikely pair: founders Michael Pazaratz and Saeed Darvish-Kazem weren’t programmers or app developers by day, but were medical doctors trained in Canada. Pazaratz was studying nuclear medicine, while Darvish-Kazem trained in cardiology. However, the two had learned to code in high school, they said, and are self-described “technology enthusiasts.” Plus, Pazaratz notes that nuclear medicine is a fairly technical field, and required him to have a strong physics background.
But the two initially didn’t think to build an app – they just went in search of something like it on the App Store.
“We thought this app must exist,” explains Pazaratz. “We shared videos with each other constantly…and, eventually, we felt like, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could watch these things together?’ There must be an app for that,” he says. “As an outsider to the tech industry, you think there must be an app for everything, because it seems like there is,” he adds.
After searching through the App Store, though, it appeared that there wasn’t an app like the one they wanted available for download. So the two decided to build it themselves.
Of course, Google Hangouts has offered an option for viewing synced YouTube videos for years, but WeMesh’s advantage is that it’s a third-party solution with plans to extend itself beyond YouTube in the near future. That could make it a fun tool for watching videos from places like Facebook, or even videos you’ve recorded yourself, but haven’t shared on social media.
Today, WeMesh allows for video playback and synchronization across devices, down to under a millisecond. The app itself was coded by a team of ex-BlackBerry engineers based in Waterloo, which is where WeMesh is based. The bootstrapped startup is also participating in the Google for Entrepreneurs program there.
While testing the app with a friend over our cellular connections while sitting together at dinner, the app performed as advertised, though it lagged a bit when navigating through the content due to the connection speeds available through our respective mobile carriers.
However, after she would join a video I invited her to, the app would quickly catch her up right to the part I was viewing on my phone. We were effectively watching the exact same thing at the same time. We could also text and voice chat right from the app’s interface.
WeMesh today offers a variety of categories from its homescreen, like music videos or those trending on Reddit for example, and you can make your “meshes” (as these social viewing sessions are called) private to you and your friends, semi-public (shared with those nearby), or public. Plus, when one video completes, viewers vote on which one to watch next.
The ability to keep watching together has led WeMesh to see long engagement times during its early days – the founders say that its thousands of users are spending 20 minutes in the app on average.
The app has actually been live on the App Store since earlier in the year, but was still under development – it didn’t include all the features described above when it first launched.
WeMesh is a free download here.