There are a zillion photo-sharing apps available on any platform you can think of, but they’re all pretty straight-forward. Upload a photo, add a filter and a location tag, and post. The iOS app Ultravisual can be just as simple, if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s also one of the most complicated creating/sharing tools I’ve used—in a good way.
Brooklyn-based Ultravisual launched last November as a way to share images and videos in a Tumblr-style format, but more visually appealing and easier to use on the go. But app developers never really know how people will respond to their creations. Founder and creative director Neil Voss noticed Ultravisual’s early adopters loved the app’s collaborative capabilities, so a redesign this month made those creative partnerships even easier.
Like other photo-sharing apps, Ultravisual consists of a main feed, a photo uploader, and a friend-finder. How it differs: The app sorts your images by collections, or albums, that you name and caption. You can let others submit to your collection by turning on permissions for the album. You have complete control over your album: You can approve or deny requests, close the collection at any time, or delete inappropriate posts.
With its overhaul, Ultravisual now features recommended collections that you can follow and request to contribute to, and also makes it easier to invite friends to collaborate with you on an album who aren’t on the network yet—including your Instagram faves.
Ultravisual, at first glance, is a basic photo-sharing service similar to Instagram. Import an image from your camera roll or take one in the app, add a filter, and be done with it. But Voss and his team have added layers that you can unlock with gestures—drag and swipe to find a variety of editing tools at your fingertips.
Those tools aren’t limited to filters. You can crop and reframe your photos, add text overlays, and turn several photos into an animated GIF or a Flipagram-style video. That’s not to mention the video-editing tools, which put Vine and Instagram to shame. You can include several high-definition, 16-second long video clips in a single post, or chop up clips and merge them into one video (or separate one video into two). You can filter, crop, and frame your clips to your heart’s content. A single post can include several different types of content, so if you want to quickly dash off a photo, a video, and a GIF at once, you can.
There are so many options that it’s no wonder Ultravisual appeals to a “small but dedicated group” of professional creatives, much like VSCO Cam does.
Voss, who in a past life created video game soundtracks, is hoping that the beautiful work of those professionals will draw amateurs, and the mingling of minds will “level up everyone’s game.” Spoken like a video-game veteran, right?
Socializing without words
Ultravisual also draws inspiration from VSCO Cam’s rejection of traditional social networking conventions like hearts and comments. In coming weeks, you’ll be able to comment on another person’s image or video, but only with media—no text.
“There’s not a lot of conversation around the content, there’s conversations through content,” Voss said.
Voss considers the like “poisonous” and that looking to likes for validation can be “detrimental.” He doesn’t want people using Ultravisual to get feedback on their selfies. But that doesn’t mean the app isn’t a social space—there’s no option to make a private profile, which seems to fly in the face of thelatest wave in social networking, private and anonymous apps that are taking off with teens.
“Kids are hiding from the world by grouping with peers,” Voss said, “but closing yourself off from the world and everything that’s good about the Internet is a bad thing.”
Kids might not be looking for another photo-sharing platform, but people looking to tap into their creativity—or seeking inspiration—will find Ultravisual a compelling option. An Android version may come down the pipeline next year, but Voss plans to optimize Ultravisual for mobile so Android users can join in that way.