Looking to turn watching YouTube videos into a more social experience, a team from Google’s internal incubator, Area 120, have launched Uptime, an app that lets you watch videos together with your friends. The app is initially available only for iOS devices, and it feels very different from the standard YouTube experience.
The app has a youthful, lively design and includes “reaction” features inspired by live-streaming services such as Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live.
Other apps have launched in the past with the aim of offering a co-watching experience, like YouTubeSocial, WeMesh, LiveLead, AirTime, and others. But what Uptime has going for it is a polished design, as well as a way to enjoy the app even if friends aren’t able to join and watch immediately.
The app was initially spotted by The Verge, which notes that it works best for vertical videos.
To be clear, the app is also about public sharing not private messaging. YouTube itself only recently added an in-app messaging feature to its mobile application, which lets you share videos and your comments on them with friends without having to switch to another messaging client or SMS. Uptime is not designed for this private sharing, but is instead a different take on the more public socializing that takes place around video content.
What Uptime is still lacking, though, is the ability to filter the community’s shares, so you can find videos by genre, as well as a search box to discover those that have already been shared to the network. There’s also no way to tap at the top of the screen to scroll back up to the top – a common iOS gesture, which is a little disconcerting. This could be by design, as the app is meant for just continuous scrolling and not a feed where you’re supposed to see all the entries.
It also doesn’t support live-streaming, but this and other features could be added in time, if its creators continue its development and experiment with different types of content.
Uptime is currently in invite-only mode, but the invite code “pizza” gets you in.