Follow people's camera roll, from the makers of Highlight

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I’ve been playing with this new app from the Highlight team for a few days. Shorts may be one of the fastest ways to share several photos and videos from your camera roll with your friends and the world (through its discovery feed of people nearby).  I also really like the comment annotations (screenshot below), enabling a new way of socializing around your media, and the screenshots people share (it’s like a peek into people’s digital lives). @pdavison - you launched Roll a year ago, a very similar app to Shorts. How did you come to the conclusion to kill Roll and try something new (albeit very similar). P.S. Perfect timing before SXSW. 😁
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@rrhoover @pdavison little creepy though
@ourielohayon @pdavison I don't think so! You can choose which photos to share.
@rrhoover @pdavison Not sure where exactly this fits (social app? photo app? messaging?), but that little quandary aside, the concept is intriguing, if not simply entertaining. Could see this as becoming a popular option for people attending festivals like SXSW (as Ryan suggested), Warped Tour, Bonaroo, Burning Man, etc... We'll see how it evolves :)
@rrhoover @pdavison oh! it felt like it was share everything or nothing at all
@rrhoover Thanks so much! It's been really fun having you on it! We learned a ton from Roll. The biggest challenge was that it was default private, so new users had to recruit their friends and family to join, which led to a big cold start problem. There were also some issues with Roll's full-screen card stack interface: New users didn't know where the "home" screen was, it was hard to find content from your favorite people, and users worried about clogging people's feeds when they shared (not good when your app is meant for high frequency sharing). When people got connected to friends on Roll and learned the interface, the retention/engagement was crazy, so we decided to rethink the app with (1) a new emphasis on friend discovery and (2) a channel-based consumption interface. We also made a lot of smaller optimizations throughout the app based on our learnings from Roll. Lots more to learn but so far people seem to like the changes and we're so excited to be sharing it here on PH today! The whole team will be standing by all day in case people have questions/feedback. :)
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I love the idea of this! The commenting system looks dope. I'm @ow on there if anyone wants to hang on Shorts...
Thanks @ow! Added you!
Encroaching on Snapchat territory I see 😉 The model is interesting. Snapchat creates habits by forcing people to use their camera, and while I wasn't a fan at first it's obvious that it does wonders for engagement. Y'all are doing it the other way around, so I'm worried it's not habit-building enough...seems like it might be easy to forget about. Would love to hear your thoughts!
@bryantpeng What we find is that there is a nice natural engagement loop: When you get notified that you have new photos to view, you open the app and are prompted to share. Similarly, when you view your friends' photos you end up liking them, so they get notified and open the app, at which point they end up sharing. We might add an in-app camera one day, but we think it's nice that right now all of the photos already exist, so it's super easy to create content on the network. One thing we've noticed is that people are sharing a LOT - about 50% of all the things on their camera rolls and taking 2-3x as many photos/videos vs. before they joined Shorts!
The local discovery feature (which showed me photos from Germany even though I'm in SF, but whatever) is pretty cool and basically an app into itself. Kind of like if Highlight was all photo-based. Adding comments is done well. I was admittedly hesitant about which photos of mine get uploaded when seeing the "allow shorts camera access" popup, and thought for a sec maybe all of my camera becomes immediately visible to random people and friends. Felt like a bit of a trust leap right off the bat although I understand how important that is for growth.
@romantobe Good feedback - thanks! We tried to minimize the fear of that by make the button say "See how it works" instead of "Try sharing" but clearly there is more optimization to do. It's such a personal space you really have to make sure you go out of your way to communicate that users have 100% control over the sharing experience. Re: local discovery, expect that to get more tuned over the coming days!
I had been using Roll for a bit when it came out but was difficult as you say below, to know exactly where the "home" area was and what I could do or where my photos were being shared. It's a really interesting evolution from Roll to Shorts, but is swiping through photos to decide to share or keep going to be an integral part of the experience? For a trigger-happy person like me, it seems tedious to have to swipe through many duplicates just to find the one I want to share with friends. Also, is the idea also to be able to share photos with specific groups of friends, for example "Family" or more timely for this week, SXSW coworkers for example? Nonetheless, it's been a seamless onboarding experience and can definitely see myself using this app!
@angielim Thanks for the kind words and the feedback! We think a lot about the tradeoffs between (1) simplicity of UI and (2) granularity of contol. We don't always succeed, but we try to start by erring on the side of the former and seeing if we can get away with not adding more features. Re: "finding the one you want to share," that's a super important point! We think that Shorts is not actually about that. It's about letting friends see all the little moments that you wouldn't think to share with them in a directed way, and that aren't ever shared elsewhere. It's like peeking into their lives and seeing the personal moments they're capturing throughout the day. In other words, it's not about sharing your best photos; it's about seeing the world through your friends' eyes. That's how we think about it at least. :)
@pdavison Thanks for the response! But it was tedious only around when it comes to all the duplicates or screenshots for example. Definitely not memorable for me to share nor what my friends would want to see, I think :)