Vine could be the next big thing in social video sharing

As we’ve reported, Twitter has launched its new social video sharing app Vine, and has clear designs on the as-yet elusive “Instagram of video” title. The new app is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Vine’s core concept is the creation and sharing of short, six-second long looping video clips that can be easily posted and shared online. Creating a clip is a simple matter of tapping the camera button in the corner of the app’s main screen, framing the perfect shot then pressing and holding to record (including audio), releasing to stop and continuing this process until the full six seconds has been filled. Because of the quick response time for starting and stopping recording, Vine is an ideal tool for making short stop-frame animations, and indeed a number of users have already been experimenting with this to varying degrees of success. There is no “edit” facility, since Vine is designed for quick and simple self-expression through short videos, not to be an in-depth video maker; completed Vine videos are, however, saved to the user’s camera roll so can be further manipulated later if desired.

Vine carries its own integrated social network, much like Instagram. From this, users may follow one another, browse featured content and hashtags, like and comment on individual posts and report inappropriate material if necessary. The app automatically turns hashtags into tappable links, and provides curated “Editor’s Picks” content to aid with discovery of new users and featured content. There is also a selection of featured hashtags, each of which carries its own icon in the Explore menu.

Finding friends to follow can be done via the device’s address book, Twitter, Facebook and a manual search function, though the friend finder feature as a whole didn’t seem to work very well at the time of writing. Address book contacts whom I knew were using Vine were not found, only two Twitter users out of the several I knew who had started using the service showed up, and attempting to find Facebook friends using Vine only resulted in an error message saying that the app was not authorized to make that request. Since there’s no apparent means of following, liking or commenting on Vine content from the open Web, this could potentially make it more difficult than it needs to be for friends to connect with one another, and will hopefully be fixed in an update soon.

Vine’s big strength is its deep integration with Twitter, meaning that Vine clips can be watched from within a tweet on both the Web and mobile versions of Twitter. The posts it makes on Facebook, however, only provide a thumbnail of the video and link to a dedicated page to play it back. Given that it’s a Twitter-owned service, it’s unsurprising that the support for Twitter is significantly better than for Facebook, but again, this is something that could do with improving in an update as soon as possible.

Its few flaws aside, Vine is an excellent app. It’s easy to use, highly responsive, quick to upload and share and quite simply a lot of fun. Limiting videos to six seconds is a very similar philosophy to Twitter’s 140-character limit, encouraging people to say or express what they want to as succinctly as possible. Within that six seconds, however, is a great deal of scope for creativity, and the already-impressive posts that new users are coming up with are likely just scratching the surface of the interesting things people will be able to do within these constraints. The app’s integrated social network is nothing particularly new or special, but it does serve as a good means of discovering new people and content and thus performs its function well. With a few tweaks to its Facebook support in particular, Vine very much has the potential to become the “go-to” video sharing app for many users who just want to share short clips. Whether or not this puts it in the running for the coveted “Instagram of video” position remains to be seen, but it’s definitely already off to a very strong start.

You can follow Vine’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.