Full disclosure: I don’t use Instagram and I’m not Pinterested. I say that because first impressions from friends about Via.me were that the site looks vaguely like Pinterest and the functionality of the app seems very Instagrammy. Because of this I went to check them out and there are indeed a lot of similarities between the Instagram and Via.me apps. Instagram though doesn’t have a Web site of its own. And while Via.me’s Web site does look similar to Pinterest, they are very different sites. It’s more of an elegant combination of Pinterest and Instagram.
Like Instagram, the Via.me app uses the built-in camera on your iPhone to record photos or video (you can also record sounds) and post them to your Via.me, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Like Instagram, it comes with a suite of fun filters you can apply to your photos, instantly transforming them into apparent works of art. Having studied photography in college and even spent a little pro time behind the lens, it piqued my interest, and as soon as I left work I began a photographic odyssey home to Jersey City.
In Greeley Square, a block down from Macy’s in Manhattan, I took my first photo and tried to post it to both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously. There I ran into a brief bit of trouble. Upon reopening, it helpfully asked me to report the crash, which I did. A few more fumbling tries and I posted my first pic to both Twitter and Facebook, with a complaint that it wasn’t quite working right. A moment later, a notification popped up that a comment had been posted. “Hi Jonny – I work at Via.Me – what issues were you having? If you can email email@example.com they will be able to help you out!” I was not expecting that. Nor was I expecting the notifications that began to pour in as my photos were posting. People were starting to follow me.
One test video and a few more photos on the train platform and in Jersey – each using a different filter – and I arrived home to find I had amassed a 17-person following already.
Visually, the Web site is a lot like Pinterest, with a couple of major differences. Pinterest pics seem to be predominantly consumer items that when clicked on almost always lead to a page where you can purchase whatever it is you’re looking at. Via.me pix take you to the next post in the member’s profile, giving you the option to start following them. On Via.me I found a lot of personal photos, pics people liked and reposted – a portrait of Steve Jobs was popular, as well as a series of quotes from a user named “Brotips,” who posts such wonderful guy-oriented bon mots as “Brotip #1983: If she says she’s into you, she probably is. If she says she isn’t, she probably isn’t. Don’t dwell on that s#¡t.” Click on it and you get another, then another and another. Want to share it? From the site you can share in just about any way imaginable, including to Pinterest, if you were so inclined.
Ultimately, Via.me is a marvelous fusion of a creative app, a sharing tool and a Pinterest-like Web site. It is still early for Via.me, and it’s always hard to say where these things will lead. But they have just released version 1.05, and no doubt further improvements are in the works. The creative results were impressive, and as for where it’s headed – I woke up to a full screen of notifications in the morning – I now have 29 followers. I’ve only been using the app for about 16 hours. I’d say that is a good indication!