Showyou, the video sharing network spanning the web, iOS and Android, today unveiled a major update for its iPhone client. The update adds a number of features, and includes a significant visual overhaul. The changes bring to mind similar UI moves made recently in apps like Google+ and Path, but the changes to the mechanics reflect a recognition on Showyou’s part that different platforms have different strengths, and playing to those strengths is the way to stay ahead of the crowd.
The new app sports a redesigned main feed, which is rebuilt from the ground up to deliver videos to users that are hopefully more relevant to each person using it. And alongside a neat new parallax effect on video thumbnails, which are presented full-bleed like pictures in the latest Google+ iPhone app, there’s also an increased focus on sharing and social elements attached to each post. Thanks, a feature excised from an earlier version of the Showyou app, makes its return, letting users give each other props for good posts. There’s also easier sharing tools, and a history of the social activity around any given post.
“We feel like the way we use the iPhone, and apps on the iPhone, is as much for communication as for anything else,” Showyou CEO Mark Hall explained in an interview. “So we wanted to make the experience not only of watching the videos, but also of talking about videos much more central in the iPhone app than it is in the iPad app.” To that end, they first built a feed designed specifically for the iPhone app, which looks at all the social networks a user connects to Showyou, along with all the people and organizations someone follows on the Showyou network itself in order to deliver a completely personalized stream designed to raise the best content for that user to the top of the pile.
The approach differs from a more real-time approach to video and other content surfacing, which is more what you’ll find on general purpose networks like Twitter, and in a lot of other video apps as well like the recently-acquired Socialcam. Showyou is aiming to be more of an editor and curator of your social feed now, instead of just an aggregator, in order to provide a quality experience that’s more likely to foster repeat engagement that lasts longer per session.
As for its other platforms, Hall says that they might eventually see the same kinds of features trickle down, too, but the company is taking a tailored approach to every different platform on which Showyou appears.
“What you’re doing is really a point of entry into a conversation when you’re sharing a video,” he said. “It gives us the chance to connect with one another and to talk to each other, and almost every time you do share a video with friends you do it and then you want that feedback loop. That’s always true with video, but it’s doubly true on the phone, so we wanted to emphasize that one the phone. That’s not to say we won’t bring some of these things to the iPad app over time; I suspect we will.”
For Showyou, a new, much-improved iPhone app should help drive engagement on that platform, which initially felt admittedly second-class next to its iPad app. The startup must be aware of recent shifts in the video sharing space, too, like Shelby.tv’s decision to shut down while it works on a major reworking of its product. It’s a space with plenty of competition, and there’s still no clear winner (outside of maybe YouTube), so it’ll take time to see which moves end up being the right ones for these companies to make.