Hanging out with friends and watching videos doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be binge-watching on the same couch. On Tuesday, Tumblr introduced its first stand-alone app, Cabana, designed to turn watching YouTube videos into a social event.
Cabana allows users to video chat with up to five other users while watching YouTube videos — so underneath that cat video, you can watch your friends react to the same video. Users can invite friends from their smartphone’s contact list to join Cabana, or search by a user name for those who have already jumped on the new platform.
Developed by Polyvore Labs, the group initially created some tests to see how well Cabana would be received. When Tumblr spotted the app, the Yahoo-owned company decided to bring it into the Tumblr name. The app uses YouTube’s API programming that allows third-party developers to access the videos and is not affiliated with YouTube itself.
Videos are the fastest growing medium within Tumblr, the company says, a trend that is also consistent with the latest updates from other social media platforms. Between 360 and live-streaming, video has made up a significant portion of both Facebook and Twitter’s latest updates. In 2016, Tumblr added the ability to share a live-stream with followers, though instead of hosting the live video itself, users start a stream on another platform or share one from another source.
Cabana aims to make watching videos online more social. While the app is designed to be used with more tight-knit friends than a public microblog, Cabana tested well with teens and young adults, a demographic that makes up about half of Tumblr’s 340 million users.
For now, Cabana is only available on iOS, though Tumblr says that an Android version is in the works. The app is free to download from the App Store.
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