Upvote for Uptime: Google Helps Validate Live Viewing!

By Balaji Krishnan

When news broke earlier this week that Google’s startup incubator had published a new app called Uptime, everyone at the DabKick office was excited to try it out. For the last three years, we’ve been promoting the idea that live social viewing of content is the future of media consumption. So it’s great to now have Google help validate that hypothesis.

Uptime’s approach to live enjoyment is significantly different from what we’re doing at DabKick, however. While the TechCrunch story on the app suggested that Uptime enables simultaneous live viewing of videos, it actually models something like the listening experience of SoundCloud audio streams, and applies it to video viewing. When two or more people launch a viewing session in UpTime, their experience is not actually synced together. Everyone in the viewing session can see each others’ reactions to a video, and can chat about it in real time — but that doesn’t mean everyone is watching together in real time. So for example, one viewer could be chatting about something which happens at :05 in the video, while another is posting an emoji in reaction to a shot which happens at :45. It’s simulated synchronous-ness which doesn’t digitally recreate the in-person experience of sitting around with friends in the living room, sharing our entertainment choices together.

Uptime, in other words, architects a live social viewing component on top of video. It’s an interesting approach to social viewing, and probably works just fine for extremely short videos (say, under 30 seconds or less). The asynchronous nature of Uptime (at least as it works now) may limit its appeal to longer form videos. If you want to enjoy a 15 minute highlight reel of last night’s game with friends, for instance, you’ll probably want a much more synchronous experience. It’s why so many of us come up with workarounds when we’re not in the same room, but still want to experience videos or music together. (“Ready to watch that Daily Show interview I just DM-ed to you? Let’s both click play at 3, 2, 1… go!”)

Our design in DabKick, in contrast, is built around establishing a live social session first, then integrating video (or other media) on top of that. That distinction is subtle, but we think a crucial one. Ultimately, we believe the core problem that needs to be solved here is not live media per se, but live communication. (It’s why we also have a “media call” integrated in our app.) Another distinction is treating video as just one medium in many that people want to simultaneously enjoy together — music and photos being just as key.

We look forward to seeing Uptime evolve, and send our kudos to the dev team. We’re grateful for the validation, and excited to see how this space continues to unfold.

Follow me on Twitter and visit us at DabKick.com.

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