Twitter became a multi-billion dollar company by exploiting simplicity. Adding new features, then, becomes a slippery slope. How do you expand the social network's capabilities without introducing complexity? One approach is to apply that same formula to video.
Six seconds of fame
Today Twitter launched its new service, Vine, that embeds videos into Tweets. Like Twitter's 140-character limit, Vine forces brevity with a six-second limit. It's the GIF, reborn.
For now, Vine is a standalone app that doesn't require (but encourages) a Twitter login. iPhone and iPod touch owners can download the app, shoot a quick clip, and post it to Twitter, Facebook, or Vine's own social network.
What makes Vine stand out is the app's unique shooting interface. When creating a Vine, you point your phone's camera at something interesting (like, you know, your cat). Press your finger on the screen to record, release it to stop recording. Repeat to take multiple clips. The app will automatically call it a wrap when you've filled six seconds.
You're the videographer and on-the-fly editor of your six-second masterpiece.
Like its parent company, Vine aims to use constraints to inspire creativity. Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann wrote in a blog post, "[Vine posts] are little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They're quirky, and we think that's part of what makes them so special."
Android users, though, can't yet create those special little windows. Twitter's Product VP Michael Sippey says that the company is "working now to bring [Vine] to other platforms."
iPhone owners can download Vine for free from the App Store.