The popular iOS and Android video-sharing app Socialcam has recently received a major update to version 5.0, and in doing so it has relaunched as a brand new app rather than an update to the previous version. According to Socialcam’s community manager, this is because of behind-the-scenes changes largely relating to the app’s acquisition by Autodesk some time ago, which required resubmission of the app rather than a simple update to the previous version. Consequently, the old version of Socialcam has been removed from the App Store, and existing users will no longer receive updates. The new version, meanwhile, is available as a free download for iOS, with a new Android version to follow shortly. The old Android version is still available from Google Play. This review is based on the new iOS version.
Socialcam is, as its name suggests, a means of sharing video recordings with friends. Upon starting the app for the first time, the user is prompted to sign in (optionally using Facebook or Twitter) and is then invited to follow some people. Anyone connected to the user’s Facebook or Twitter account will automatically be followed, and a list of “suggested” users is also provided. The user has the option to “Follow All” of these users if they desire, or simply selectively.
Once into the app proper, it is split into several main components. The app’s main screen displays a conventional mobile-social network interface in which users may browse through content from their friends and the Socialcam team. Socialcam’s community manager Roxie is an active user of the service, and is usually the face of new announcements regarding new features or things about the service people will need to know. Each post may be Liked or commented on, and links to the post may also be shared on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, or via email/SMS message. The videos for each post may be watched “inline” without leaving the main social network view; alternatively, tapping the video while it is playing reveals a “full screen” button which supports landscape orientation viewing.
Besides the main feed, users may also browse a feed of popular videos and trending topics, tracked by hashtag. From this feed, it is a single tap to either watch the video in full screen mode, Like it or view the comments. Users may also find new friends by following featured users, searching Socialcam or using Facebook and/or Twitter.
To record a new video, users must simply tap the “record” button at the bottom of the screen, at which point the camera interface will open. From here, users may swipe left or right to apply several Instagram-esque filters in real time, tap to focus on a particular point or pinch to zoom. Users may also shoot video in HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode for improved contrast between light and dark colors if they desire. Once the video is recorded, it can be edited by choosing a theme for the title text to appear on the screen and a soundtrack from a fairly wide selection of different styles, provided through a partnership with Friendly Music. When the user is satisfied, they may save it, tag people who are in the video, share it with specific contacts or post it online to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Dropbox and/or Tumblr. It is also automatically saved to the user’s camera roll in case they would like to edit it further (or perhaps incorporate it into a larger multi-scene movie using software such as Apple’s own iMovie) at a later date.
Socialcam 5.0 appears to be a very good app all round. It is quick and easy to get started with, and while there is no facility to edit movies beyond applying filters, title styles and soundtracks, this will be enough for many people who just want to get a quick, good-looking clip up online with minimum fuss. Those who would like to use Socialcam’s visual filters in a more large-scale project can make use of the versions of their clips that are saved to the device’s camera roll. The app features an admirable range of sharing options — Dropbox compatibility is particularly welcome for those who work on several devices — and offers a smooth, reliable and customizable experience with a solid, if rather unremarkable, social network built in. On the whole, it looks like a great update that puts Socialcam well and truly in the running for that coveted but elusive “Instagram of video” title.
You can follow Socialcam 5.0’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.