By Zuri Berry
Should you get it? Depends on your level of voyeurism or how much you like to track B-list celebrities.
Of the standard apps that come with any iPhone or iPad (think Google Maps, Calendar, Reminders, etc.), there are ten-fold of that which try to improve upon the idea behind each.
Whether it's MapQuest, Google Calendar, or Remember the Milk (tasks), a good quantity of the apps vying for your attention are often some variation of those that already come with the device. For goodness sake, you can bypass your regular joe-blow mail client and get the GMail app you've always wanted nowadays. There are apps up the gazoo that do anything and everything the standard apps do - sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.
But the thing is, a lot of these apps don't necessarily build off a social experience while at the same time challenging a heavyweight in the app store ring. That's where Socialcam comes in. Socialcam is a free video-sharing app built for the iPhone that is slowing eating away at the YouTube market, thanks to its mobile-only approach.
It's through this prism - a sort of niche competition with YouTube - that we view Socialcam, comparing it and critiquing it to the largest video portal in the world. That may be a bit unfair, but there is certainly reason to do so.
For one, as a mobile-only app with a website (and not the other way around), Socialcam is competing in a space that has been all but ceded by the video giant. It can afford to, at times, make mistakes in its approach and still increase its followers and base because it continues to be the only competent video app available meant for social use.
As anyone can tell you, uploading videos to YouTube on your iPhone requires one of two things: A secret e-mail you've made for yourself, or total disregard for the actual app that comes with the phone. None of that is necessary with Socialcam. Just point, shoot, add seasoning, then upload directly from the app. The app can push your videos to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Posterus, Dropbox and, yes, YouTube. And on top of that, it can tag your friends that use the app, and those that do not.
In essence, Socialcam is doing to mobile videos what Instagram has done for pictures. (How many times have you heard that?) It has created a little mini-verse where people such as the social network's community manager, The Roxie, have 1.4 million followers within the confines of the Socialcam experience.
For instance, I follow MC Hammer on Socialcam and he has 1.3 million followers. That pales in comparison to his 2.7 million Twitter followers, but it does give you an idea of the kind of reach Socialcam has and the kind of cachet it has with B-celebrities. The Brooklyn Nets made waves when they joined the social network, and it won't be long before its use becomes standard practice among the socially apt journalist looking to record and distribute interviews. There are even graphics meant for that very purpose.
The rate of speed Socialcam has grown is undoubtedly tied to its ability to opt-in users via friend invites. In fact, the app was so aggressive in its early incarnations that the app store reviews regarded it as invasive, accessing contacts, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends relentlessly. A large part of that has been smoothed over.
Nowadays, you'll see links to Socialcam videos on Facebook in which you have to sign up for the social network before viewing the video on its app on Facebook.You still see contacts that have recently joined Socialcam, waiting for you to follow them, but they are much less intrusive.
Additionally, the app's notifications can be notorious. If you do not opt out, anytime someone you follow posts a video, watches, comments, or follows you, you'll be notified. It can be overwhelming.
But what the app does provide, and what YouTube has only partially delivered, is a process in which viewing, uploading, and sharing videos is seamless from a mobile device to many platforms. Fast uploads and more connectivity over several social networks makes it a one-stop shop to share all those pretty kitten videos you have stored up.
If you don't mind the voyeurism, and are willing to share, there's no app that can beat what Socialcam does on the iPhone. That means YouTube. And sometimes, that's all that matters.