Last year, Google opened a startup incubator called Area 120, which was designed to let employees us some of their discretionary time to start up their own companies. The incubator has just released Uptime, a group video messaging app that lets you watch and share videos with your friends.
Right now, Uptime is only available for the iPhone as an invite-only app, but it looks like a fun experiment with quite a bit of promise. Once you log in with your Google account, you’re greeted with a short introductory video that explains how it all works. You watch a video, and your profile picture travels along a progress bar that wraps around the screen. If there’s other people watching, you’ll see their icons travel along with you. There’s some neat ideas that the team has lifted from what Facebook has been doing with its Live videos: you can react to what you’re seeing on the screen, either by typing in comments or by touching the screen in real time.
There’s some limits to the app, which makes sense at this stage. Currently, there’s no way to record video or to stream live; it only lets you share clips from YouTube. The app also seems like it’s best oriented towards videos shot in profile, rather than landscape. You can watch and comment on something like a movie trailer, but if you rotate your phone 90 degrees, it won’t let you type text or add reactions.
It’s also hard to find people at this stage. While the home screen helpfully gives you some people to follow along with, there’s no readily apparent way to search for specific people, and the Find Friends button only lets you invite new users to the platform.
Even if this doesn’t go much further than what we’ve got here, it’s a really fun and promising experiment that plays with some cool ideas. Hopefully, some of these ideas will be fleshed out a bit further now that users can play with it.