More social sharing with Via.Me, now on Android

Via.Me is a “social sharing” app for the Web and mobile devices. The developer RadiumOne claims that the existing iOS version of the app currently has over 12 million monthly users, and the service has now expanded to Android devices.

The Android app was tested on a Motorola Xoom tablet running Android 4.0.4. The app ran, but was a little slow at times and suffered several seemingly unprovoked crashes during normal use while testing.

At heart, Via.Me takes inspiration for its core functionality from a variety of existing services, specifically the photo filtering of Instagram and the focus on “resharing” from Tumblr. Based largely around a “feed” of content posted by members that the user has chosen to follow, the app allows for the posting of text, photographs, videos and sounds and then allows the community to like, repost or comment on each item. Social connectivity allows users to automatically share content they post on Via.Me to Facebook and Twitter — this is done selectively at the time of posting by checking or unchecking the relevant boxes. The Web interface for the service allows sharing of content after it has been posted to Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and email, but the Android app appears to be significantly more limited in this regard — there does not appear to be the facility to share content to other social services at all from within the app’s own news feed, meaning it must either be shared at the time of posting or not at all — or via the Web.

The photography aspect of the app allows users to take a picture using their device’s camera, crop out a specific square portion of it and then apply a selection of Instagram-esque filters to it, each of which is named after a city. There is a wide variety of effects on offer, with most favoring the fashionable “vintage” look by adjusting white balance, contrast, color saturation and brightness and, in some cases, applying “scratched” textures or frames atop the basic image. Unlike some other services, all filters are available for free without the need for in-app purchasing.

Via.me’s focus on multimedia — images, video and sound — makes it ideal for advertisers to reach their audience and indeed a number of brands are already present on the service. The fact that the app is able to easily cross-post to Twitter and Facebook accounts — including Pages in the latter case — makes it a good tool for creating content once and then sharing it across a variety of platforms. The value of Via.Me as a platform in its own right is perhaps a little more questionable, but its cross-platform functionality makes up for this somewhat. It would be good to see the facility to post to Google+ and Pinterest from within the app, however, since the functionality for both is already available via the website — and the Android OS specifically encourages its users to make use of Google+ at regular intervals.

Via.me will live or die in the long term based on whether or not users actually find it worthwhile as a social network in its own right rather than simply a means of posting content to Facebook and Twitter. At present, the community does not appear to be particularly talkative, preferring to resort to the Like and Repost buttons rather than interacting with one another directly. For those who do not wish their content to be reshared, there also does not appear to be the means of selectively disabling the Repost function.

The Android app could also use a bit of polishing. Besides the aforementioned lack of sharing options, it was rather slow to respond on the device tested, and attempting to view content often resulted in a perpetually-refilling progress bar rather than the image or video actually appearing. Refreshing the page sometimes fixed this issue, but in apps like this, immediacy is part of the appeal — if content just doesn’t appear straight away for some users they will get frustrated and go somewhere else. Alongside this, interface inconsistencies occasioanlly prove troublesome — a good example comes when creating a new post and bringing up the “sharing options menu.” Pressing the “back” button in the top left corner of the screen does not navigate back to the post creation screen as one might expect — it cancels the post altogether without a confirmation dialog. This will prove immensely frustrating if the user loses a “perfect shot” in the process.

Via.Me has its heart in the right place and a good degree of potential, but in its current state there is relatively little reason for users to choose it over more well-established apps that do similar things. The addition of audio and video posts should theoretically set it apart from its closest rival Instagram, but the clunky, unrefined and somewhat unreliable nature of the app will be offputting for many users. It’s one to keep an eye on to see if it improves in the coming months, but for now it’s little more than a curio — another addition to the pile of social services of questionable value to the community at large.

Via.Me’s Android app is currently ranked at No. 187 in the Social category. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.