#500

The Stand-Along App

The most interesting thing about Instagram’s new app, Hyperlapse, isn’t that it’s a stand-alone app, it’s that it’s only a lens.

A lot has been made in recent months of companies “unbundling” their apps to create simpler, more streamlined experiences for users. The jury is still very much out on this strategy actually working. But again, I don’t view the Instagram move with Hyperlapse as the same thing exactly.

The thing is, on the surface, there isn’t much to Hyperlapse itself. It’s a video camera which allows you to speed up the playback after shooting (there’s obviously a lot more going on behind the scenes to make this work and seem as simple as it does). You can then share those videos to either Facebook or Instagram (not Twitter, naturally and stupidly), but there is no Hyperlapse social element beyond this share functionality. The real social component of Hyperlapse stays on the existing Facebook social backbone (since Facebook also owns Instagram, of course). And even the editing beyond the playback speed occurs on Instagram still.

So in this regard, Hyperlapse is “only” a layer on top of those existing services. It’s sort of like a new lens you might attach to your camera – albeit a tricked-out lens that can speed up time!

I think this secondary app strategy is a much more clever one than the typical “unbundling” one. Just look at the App Store top lists now; there are dozens of apps for altering the output of existing popular apps – Vine, Snapchat, and yes, Instagram, amongst others. Why wouldn’t the app-maker want to play in this space as well? The end result is just making their core app more popular. And they get to remain in control of the user experience.

Not a stand-alone app, a stand-along app.

As an aside, in my mind, the oddest thing about Hyperlapse is that it does something that not even its parent does: work natively on the iPad.

(Written on my iPhone)

On The Go

I find myself on vacation. For me, that means getting away to a nice (usually new) place where I can read in peace. (And completely fail on my stated pledge not to check email – but that’s another story.) It also gives me time to think, which I find I rarely have these days. Naturally, my mind drifts to writing.

I started the year hoping to write more – 500 words a day, in fact. That lasted barely a month. It simply was becoming too much of a chore at the end of each day. I soon switched to writing thoughts on Medium, hoping its beautiful writing interface would spur me on. It has, a bit. But still not as much as I would like.

Thinking about this today, I realize that I have a pretty strong aversion to using my computer these days. It’s a cumbersome device I only associate with work. More importantly, I increasingly find myself only carrying around my iPhone and perhaps my iPad. And I’ve been writing a lot on my iPad (with the Logitech keyboard attached), but I still usually publish when I get back to a computer (on Medium, for example, you can still only publish from a desktop browser). There are too many steps involved.

So I’m going to try to force myself to write more on the go, when I’m nowhere near my MacBook. Like this post, which I’m typing on my iPhone (using Byword). With years of practice now, I’m actually quite good at typing on my phone (and even my iPad without the Logitech keyboard). So I’m not sure why I haven’t been doing it more. Other than the fact that old habits die hard.

This may also force me to keep things shorter than usual. Which I view as a good thing.

(Written on my iPhone)