Vine clones seem to be cropping up everywhere, but in truth, Vine was far from the first video-Instagram wannabe—just the most successful. Even Instagram added video sharing this past June to get in on some of Vine’s market. Now it’s Yahoo’s turn, with the acquisition of Qwiki. Qwiki resembles Vine and other video sharing apps, but with a difference: You use videos you already shot, stored in your iPhone’s Camera Roll rather than shooting a spontaneous clip within the app. And it’s not just about videos, in fact, Qwiki is actually more about photos, combining video and stills into a crafted slideshow.
Getting Started with Qwiki
You’ll need iOS 5.1 or later to install the app on your iPhone or iPod touch. You can install it on an iPad, but it’s optimized for iPhone. Thankfully, you can sign up for a Qwiki account by tapping a Facebook button and granting permission to access your profile—you don’t need a Yahoo account. You can, however, sign up with any old email address if you prefer. Either way, you’ll need to enter a new password just for Qwiki. Next you choose whether you want the app to be able to pop up push notifications. So many apps these days have latched onto this way to remind you of their existence; if you can handle yet another, tap OK.
Now you’re in the Qwiki app interface proper, where you’ll see a feed of video thumbnails of popular submissions. I like how these simply show icons for favorites and comments, rather than actually displaying some or all comments, as some other social video apps do; that design can clutter the feed. During my first foray into the app, helpful/distracting tooltips encouraged me to “Find Friends” and to “See what Qwiki makes for you.”
Tapping the first offered Facebook and local contacts, as well as a list of popular Qwikiers. Adding contacts many at a time is a snap with either option. We’ll get to that second Create button below in the Making Your Own Qwiki section.
A dropdown from the main Qwiki logo at top center lets you switch your feed from Popular to just members you’re following or to videos tagged with suggested hashtags. A nicely designed search feature lets you switch between hashtags and users. At top right is a heart/comment button, which shows activity in your network of Qwiki contacts and lists who you’re following.
When you hit a video’s Play arrow, obviously it starts playing, and the comments and Likes expand below the narrow video window. Turning your iPhone sideways switches playback to full-screen mode—another nice design touch. Pause and AirPlay buttons appear if you tap the screen, in case you want to watch the video on your big-screen through Apple TV. After the video finishes, you’ll see large heart (like), replay, and follow buttons over the last frame. Since the videos can be much longer than Vine videos—up to a whole minute!—I’d appreciate the addition of a scrubber, to fast forward through them.
Making Your Own Qwiki
After tapping the +Create bar at the bottom of the main Qwiki screen, you have two basic choices—Auto (We create, you edit) and Custom (You create and edit). With either option, you need to grant the app access to your Camera roll before you can get going. With the first option, the app groups images by date, creating previews for each date it finds enough photos for.
With the second option, you select up to 25 photos and/or videos, and then let the app/service work its magic. I chose 24 photos and one video from my recent trip to Split, Croatia. After hitting done and waiting just a few seconds for Loading, I could apply an effect filter, edit media and captions, and choose background music. Note that Qwiki doesn’t let you include the sound from your original video, and it drastically shortened my test video.
You can add a caption for each “moment,” which can consist of more than one image. I could select any song from my phone’s library, or choose from nine canned “Soundtracks.” Adding the Cross Process effect wasn’t instantaneous, but only took about 30 seconds. I could also choose Fast or Slow playback speeds. The Auto option created a very pleasing end result, with pan and zoom and split screen views for similar photos.
Once you’re happy with the resulting montage, you tap the big green Share button, which opens the Publish page. Here you can change the titles, location, and tag friends. At this point you also have a number of sharing options, including not only your Qwiki stream, but also SMS, Facebook, Twitter, and you can even embed a Qwiki on any web page. You can also choose to make the Qwiki private (you can still share it later). After I hit Publish, the video was quickly rendered and ready to play.
When you send someone a link to a Qwiki video, they’ll see it presented on a web page, but it can only be viewed as an inset window—not full screen—and you don’t get any of the social features (liking, commenting) on the web presence. That’s similar to what you get with Vine, but other apps like Viddy offer richer web interfaces. At least Qwiki lets you share to Facebook, Twitter, or use embed code for the web video. I encountered a minor bug when composing a sharing email in the app: if I tried typing the addressee’s name too soon, the email would close, but there were no real show-stoppers like those you often see in video apps.
Time for a Qwiki?
Qwiki is not going to replace Vine or Instagram, but it does offer a way to present your iPhone photos and video clips in a really attractive way and share them either privately or with a wider audience. While it does mean joining yet another social network, Qwiki’s design for this is pretty frictionless, and the app also lets you share to the more popular social properties like Facebook and Twitter. I still like Viddy better among social video apps, but Qwiki fills a different niche, and does so admirably enough.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc