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Google Launches New Communal Video Viewing App Called ‘Uptime’

Google, has launched a new video app which enables users to watch and react to YouTube videos with their friends.

Called Uptime, the app lets you share the viewing experience, with an indicator of where you are in the video and the ability to send comments and reaction emojis during platyback.

The interface is a little hard to see in that example – here’s a closer look at the video selection and viewing experience.

Google Launches New Communal Video Viewing App ‘Uptime’ | Social Media TodayAs you can see, while you’re watching, your icon travels around the edge of the screen, denoting where you are in the video. When your friends are watching too, you’ll also be able to see their profile icons.

The app is designed for public sharing, not private viewing. Once you’ve watching a video in Uptime, your reactions will be attached to that video, similar to how comments on a Soundcloud audio track are displayed at the relevant points in the playback. Obviously, this could be distracting, but the idea is to bring something new to the video experience – it’s not designed with the traditional viewing process in mind.

There are a couple of key trends YouTube’s looking to tap into here.

First off, there’s the rise in communal video interaction – as exemplified by the popularity of group live-streaming app Houseparty (from the makers of Meerkat), youngers users, in particular, are looking to use social video to catch up at all hours.

This trend was specifically noted by Instagram when they launched Instagram Live, with Instagram product manager Shilp Sarkar noting that:

“The use case that caught our attention was people just hanging out on live, particularly young people. After school, they jump on a livestream and hang out. That use of live [video] is particularly interesting to us.”

Houseparty hit 1.2 million daily users in November, underlining this trend.

The second element in play is the rise in ‘second-screening’. A recent study by eMarketer found that nearly 85% of internet users surf the web while watching TV – a number they expect to see rise to more than 90% by 2018. This transformational shift in TV consumption points to the fact that users are looking for ways to engage while viewing, which has no doubt played a part in Uptime’s development.

The release comes as YouTube’s looking to re-affirm its position as the online video leader. The platform recently expanded access to, and the options available within, their mobile live-streaming element, while they also announced that they’re now serving more than a billion hours of content per day, far more than Facebook.

Uptime is another element in this push – an experimental one, but as noted, given the surrounding trends, one which could take off.

Uptime is available now - at present, the app is only available on iOS.

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