As we noted yesterday, Facebook's experimental NPE team is certainly not wasting any time in testing out new tools as it seeks to tap into rising social usage shifts.
After launching new group phone call app 'CatchUp' in the US earlier in the week, the NPE team has now unveiled its latest experiment - a music collaboration app called, fittingly, 'Collab', which enables users to watch, record, and remix 15-second video clips.
As explained by Facebook:
"Music is one of the most powerful creative outlets. With Collab, we’re leveraging technology to help people unlock creative superpowers by collaborating on original music videos from anywhere. In light of so many folks sheltered in place around the world, we’ve expedited this release."
As noted, Collabs enables users to mix together three 15-second video clips in order to, essentially, create new music. Users are able to upload their own short recordings, or they can swipe through to discover existing clips, then put them together to form new compositions.
"Once you’ve created a collab, you can publish it for others to watch and mix and match further. You can also share yours or others’ creations to Instagram, Facebook Stories, or any other platform, with just a few taps."
A key element of the app is that users have to upload each individual segment, which other users can then search through, via the swipe functionality, as they go about creating their own quick track. In this sense, Facebook appears to be looking to tap into the remix behavior of TikTok, where Duets and hashtag challenges have become central to on-platform engagement.
Indeed, the remit of Facebook's NPE - or 'New Product Experimentation - team is to find ways to tap into rising usage trends, in order to catch onto the next TikTok or Houseparty before it gains traction in a competitor app. Thus far, NPE's experiments have involved meme creation, music sharing and various private chat options, aligning with rising usage behaviors, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Collabs looks take aim at the engagement behaviors within TikTok specifically, though in a more creative way, and without the lure of popular tracks to underline the trends.
Will that be effective? It's obviously impossible to say, but you would think that Collabs would have more niche appeal, while the 15 second limit also restricts the capacity to create actual, new tracks, as such. But still, it could be a fun option, and with more people looking for distractions during COVID-19, it could be coming out at just the right time. The ability to share your creations via Stories also provides broader reach capacity, and adds the potential for greater exposure within Facebook's apps.
But then again, not everyone can access Collabs at the moment. At present, the app is available via invite only (you can join the waitlist here), though Facebook says that it is looking to ramp up access quickly:
"We’ll be opening up invites in batches, starting with folks in the US and Canada, as we continue to improve the experience."
Facebook also warns that Collabs could be a little glitchy to begin with, as they work through the initial kinks.
It's, again, interesting to note where Facebook is looking in terms of rising trends, and how it seeks to capitalize on behaviors popularized within other apps. Thus far, all of the NPE experiments seem fairly limited in scope, but maybe, that's part of the process. Maybe, if Facebook can identify some more niche use cases, along with the next major usage trends, it will be able to add tools catering to such into its various apps, in order to quell more forms of potential competition before they even get a chance to take flight.
One thing is for sure, they're not leaving any stone unturned - the NPE team has now released seven new apps within the last six months. That could definitely help to keep Facebook atop of the social heap.
You can find out more about Collabs here.