Area 120, Google Inc.’s in-house startup incubator, has launched a new app called Uptime that allows users to watch and react to YouTube videos together, making the popular video streaming site a more social experience.
Currently available for iOS only, Uptime is equal parts chatroom, social network and video player, with a cartoony interface that is packed full of emoji. The idea behind Uptime is to make it easier for friends to share videos and comment or react to specific moments.
The app’s own examples include plenty of cat videos, but users can also create their own curated YouTube playlists to share, and Uptime also offers daily video recommendations based on what your friends or other followed accounts are sharing. Users can also see what videos their friends are currently watching, which may or may not be a good thing depending on the sort of videos you watch.
While watching a video, users can leave comments or emoji reactions that show up for viewers at the same time in the video, regardless of whether they are watching it at that moment or later on. Users can also tap on a video to create sparkles that are shown only to people currently watching live.
Many of Uptime’s features share a few similarities with livestreaming services like Facebook Live, Twitter Inc.’s Periscope or Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch, but the app also seems to share a lot in common with NicoNico, a video streaming platform that is one of the most popular websites in Japan. Like Uptime, NicoNico also allows users to comment on videos at specific time stamps, which show up for later viewers.
At the moment, Uptime seems to be focused on letting users share and comment on funny videos with their friends, but underneath the app’s emoji-heavy interface is an interesting experiment on Google’s part. YouTube already allows users to watch live video streams together much like other livestreaming platforms, but there is currently no way for users to watch pre-recorded video together.
If Uptime catches on, there is the possibility that something similar might make its way onto YouTube itself, which could also open up some interesting possibilities for both advertising and community events.