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This article was published on December 2, 2011

Everyone’s wrong, the next version of Color is not a ‘video app’

Everyone’s wrong, the next version of Color is not a ‘video app’
Drew Olanoff
Story by

Drew Olanoff

Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

Anyone who has paid attention to the tech world and apps specifically know the story of Color. The app launched at the same time the company was announcing an astonishing $41 million round of funding.

That was the headline, and that was what we judged the app by. The app wasn’t stellar though, so that part was indeed Color’s fault. The original idea was to take photos and others in your location could see them. Geolocated groups of photos just wasn’t enough to grab people’s attention.

But again, the fact that the company had raised so much money brought it more heat than most would receive over an app. The first iteration of Color died a quiet death, with everyone hopping on the bandwagon laughing at them. I admit, I was one of them.

Later this month, the new version of Color will be released. Instead of rehashing how much money the company has, I took an actual look at what the app had to offer to see if it would fit into the suite of apps I’m already using.

It’s not a video app, folks

The company has been showing off the app for a few weeks now, with the press getting a first hands-on look today. The headlines about the app don’t really tell you what you should know.

TechCrunch’s headline read: “With Facebook At Its Core, Color Will Relaunch As Champion Of The Video Status Update“. They’re right that Facebook is the core of the new version of Color, but it’s not a video status update app, it’s something different. Allow me to explain.

When I think about “video” in general, I think that it’s something I’ll have to pay full attention to, it will require a lot of bandwidth, and I’ll have to either have headphones on or be in a quiet room. I’m sure you’ll agree with some of those sentiments, when it comes to video.

Speaking of video, here’s a demonstration of something new, something unlike what you’ll find in Path, or other status update apps:

What Color has done with its new app is create a new type of experience, one I’m calling “moving pictures”. It’s not a video in that as a broadcaster you don’t have to talk about anything, set the stage, or worry about being entertaining. What the app allows you to do is host a live broadcast or glimpse into your life at that very moment.

It’s not a still photo, and it’s really not a “video” either. It’s a series of moving pictures that capture what’s going on around you at that time and place.

When you start a broadcast, which the company calls a “visit”, an update will hit your Facebook wall and your friend’s Newsfeed. If they catch the broadcast live they’ll be able to watch it right from Facebook.

If they’re your friend on Color, they get a push notification telling them that you’re currently hosting a visit. Either way, when they look at the broadcast, they’re watching your life at that very moment. They’re not watching a pre-produced or thought up video. Since there’s no audio, you’re not forced to come up with something funny or interesting to say. All the watchers can use during your broadcast is their eyes and it makes them focus on your surroundings in a way that a still photo or a video can’t mimic.

What I like about the broadcasting, is that you can ask someone to start a “visit” any time. It’s kind of like poking someone and interacting with them in a way that’s not a text or a phone call. It’s more like “Hey, what are you up to?”. If they accept, they can show you and the rest of their Facebook and Color friends. If your friends miss your visit, they can check it out later.

It’s honestly a new genre of sharing. Calling it a video app is short-changing what the company has done here. Another popular app with geeks, Path, released its new version last night. In it, you can shoot a small video and share it with your friends. It’s a pretty typical feature that is a part of a suite the company is building.

Color has done something here that stands alone. You don’t need to couple this moving pictures / glimpse sharing with other features, because it’s strong enough on its own.

The app is due out by the end of December, and if you can push aside all the bullshit about how much money the company has raised and how its first app flopped much like Path did, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by something that isn’t a micro version of a bigger platform, but a new way to share brief moments in your life. I’m enjoying it quite a bit, and I think the idea is innovative enough to capture people’s attention.