capsule review

Viddy for iPhone

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Viddy

When Viddy launched last year, there was much talk about it being the “Instagram for video.” While it would be easy to dismiss these claims as just a lot of hype, one year after its launch, Viddy has amassed more than 26 million users thanks, in part, to an array of celebrity endorsements. Even Mark Zuckerberg has a Viddy account (something I imagine not many social networking apps can say). And some recent estimates have valued the company at as much as $200 million.

Viddy, while similar to many photo-sharing apps, is exclusively for editing and sharing video. Users create, edit, and share short videos within the app. Videos can be customized with lo-fi filters and soundtracks and then shared with social networks.

Here’s how it works: Create an account by signing in with either your email, Twitter, or Facebook account. From there you’re ready to start finding friends to follow, watching popular videos from other users, and creating and sharing your own video clips.

Where the action is: Viddy makes it easy to discover interesting videos via a wide variety of activity streams.

Viddy’s layout is similar to Instagram’s without feeling like a cheap knockoff. The app’s dashboard is laid out in a way that encourages sharing and interacting with other users. The filmstrip icon has tabs so you can navigate to different activity streams—Following, Featured, and Likes. The flame icon shows you what’s hot with tabs for Popular, Trending, and Newest. Tap on the camera to record or share a video, the people icon to see your friends’ activity, and the address card to view your profile.

I really appreciated the variety of activity streams available. And watching other users’ videos proved to be an entertaining and easy experience, especially given that videos are limited to 15 seconds.

Though some will no doubt find the 15-second cap limiting, it didn’t bother me. I like that it forces you to make your videos short and easily digestible. To me, the appeal of viewing other users’ videos would be lost if there was no time limit. By enforcing a short limit, Viddy ensures that videos can be uploaded in a timely manner, regardless of your data connection.

Something else that sets Viddy apart is the advanced camera controls you can take advantage of from within the app. Open the camera, tap the settings gear, and you can enable an audio meter, a framing guide overlay, and a timer. You can also set and lock exposure, focus, and white balance. (You need to use an iPhone 4 or 4S to set the focus lock.) These kinds of controls give you a flexibility in reocording your video that you don’t see in many apps, particularly free ones.

Once you have selected the video you want to use, you can edit it further by choosing a lo-fi filter. Four filters come standard but there are additional filters available in the Marketplace, most of which are free and don’t require an in-app purchase to download.

Most filters are the expected lo-fi choices—Vintage, Black and White, and Retro to name a few—but some are artist-sponsored “packs” like Incubus, Linkin Park, or Snoop Dogg, which offer a filter and an optional soundtrack from that artist.

Once you have picked a filter, an FX slider allows you to control the effect’s intensity—a nice touch. An additional slider controls the volume of the soundtrack, which you can also turn off entriely.

Custom add-ons: Special effects like lo-fi filters and artist-sponsored soundtracks can be used to customize your videos.

The Next button lets you choose where and how you want to publish your video. You can choose to share your video with all Viddy users, with your followers only, or to make it completely private. If you do choose to share, there are a number of options available including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube.

While I liked the variety of options, I encountered one annoyance with the sharing settings: there is no way to share videos within the app only. If you have connected your Facebook or Twitter account, either when you signed up or when you searched for friends, you are forced, by default, to share your videos with both Facebook and Twitter unless you choose to make the video completely private. This could get bothersome, as there are situations when you may not want to share everything with both Facebook and Twitter. For example, if you have Twitter linked to your Facebook already, then sharing videos from Viddy would result in double posting.

That aside, Viddy offers a solid user experience. Its large network of users, flexibility in camera control, and celebrity users make it fun and highly amusing.

Viddy is compatible with iOS devices running iOS 4.2 or later, though certain camera settings are only available for the iPhone 4 or 4S. You can view celebrity videos on Viddy’s website.

[Karissa Bell is an app-obsessed writer based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter.]

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Viddy

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