When it comes to social apps for sharing images and videos, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine are far ahead of their competition — and there are plenty of imitators and wannabes vying for their place in the social media sun. So what makes Ultravisual, a new media-sharing app that launched today, any different?
Brooklyn-based Ultravisual – which is backed by a company you may have heard of called Technicolor – allows users to share photos and videos in a manner similar to Instagram — the overlap in services is undeniable. But the fledgling app has a few standout features that could help it carve out a foothold in the crowded market. Basically, Ultravisual is ultra-pretty, and it could gain traction with photographers and the pockets of social image sharers more interested in National Geographic-style landscapes than party selfies.
Founder Neil Voss envisions Ultravisual as a kind of advanced, aesthetically unparalleled hybrid of Tumblr, Vine, Pinterest, and Instagram. “Obviously, at a high level we’ve set some goals to be really transformative,” he says. “We want to raise the bar on how beautiful it is, how it presents, and how people share content — we have a collection basis instead of a feed, soap-box kind of basis.”
Ultravisual’s “Collections” are categories created by users. People can develop individual collections or make them collaborative — most are collaborative, and contain media of impressive quality. Like Instagram, users have a profile and can upload media to share with friends. Like Vine, it’s all public. Like Tumblr, you can re-post an image from someone else. Like basically every social app, you can use hashtags as a discovery tool and write comments, and you follow people you’re interested in. But unlike its forbearers, you can upload GIFs and take advantage of an editing suite and user interface that optimize the beauty of what you’re putting forth. This might not be the most innovative app in the world but it is very good-looking. When you scroll through your feed or a collection, the videos and GIFs autoplay with a hitch. There’s no limit on how much video you can record, but the app automatically breaks it up into cells, creating an interesting, fragmented strip of video. And even though there are fewer filters available here than on Instagram, Ultravisual gives users more control over cropping and allows for zooming. I did have trouble importing photos when I tested the app — it’s unclear whether it’s a bug or just my wonky iPhone 4 trying to deal with iOS 7.
Will an app with a concept that’s already been done succeed, even if the execution is top-notch? It’s the question of the app invention ages. I think Vine videos are far more fun to make than Instagram videos, but I use Instagram for video because it’s easier than opening another app. It’s usually impossible to predict which apps will tap into the zeitgeist and which won’t. But one thing Ultravisual has that no one can take away is a remarkably attractive and easy-to-use interface.