While there is no shortage of video to consume online and via mobile devices - 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! - finding clips and programs most relevant to you is challenging.
Launched last April, Showyou pioneered social video aggregation on iOS devices (and later Amazon’s Kindle Fire) by elegantly presenting videos shared by Facebook, Twitter and other networks. A brand new update to the free app makes browsing for videos shared by friends or broadcasted by chosen providers (The Colbert Report, TED and Huffington Post to name a few) easier than ever. In many ways Showyou is like a Flipboard for video, and a must-have app particularly for owners of devices powered by iOS 5 who also own Apple TV 2.0
Upon logging-in via Facebook, Twitter or directly on Showme, users are presented four Grids that divide videos between Popular, Following, Twitter and Facebook. Videos displayed within the Popular Grid are given premier placement based on a social algorithm that accounts for popularity among Showyou users and how recent the video was uploaded.
Unlike Flipboard, the Popular Grid does not factor in individual user preferences including Facebook and Twitter contacts and content providers followed. Showyou founder Mark Hall said this methodology will evolve over time and as more users interact with the app.
“We have a tremendous amount of data we use now, and will use in the future, to make that even more interesting, relevant,” wrote Hall, who started Showyou’s parent company Remixation in 2007 and previously served as an executive with RealNetworks as well as an interactive documentary producer. “It's too soon to talk publicly about what our plans are there.”
Featured videos in Popular as of February 1 included the Ferris Bueller comeback commercial for Honda and a clip of The Muppets attacking Fox News. While there is not much particularly unique in the Popular Grid (at least yet), the Twitter and Facebook Grids are delightful. While there is no practical way to see all the video links displayed by my Facebook and Twitter contacts from those services, Showyou packages this content beautifully in reverse chronological order.
The Following Grid combines videos from the few dozen publishers Showyou aggregates as well as individual users who have an account. Notable Showyou users who share video frequently include technology bloggers Robert Scoble and Hillel Fuld. In all, I’m following 27 publishers and individuals and find fresh content to view every few hours when I tap into the app.
Hall said that publishers interested in being included in Showyou just need to send the company an RSS feed for consideration.
The new new school of television
Showyou’s 3.0 update follows the January 18 debut of the Touchtv iPad app. While Showyou curates video recommendations based on social connections and individual preferences, the free Touchtv has more of a top-down approach. The free app pulls in streams of video clips from dozens of mainstream broadcast and cable networks including ESPN, NBC and CBS. There are also individual networks for programs like Conan and Charlie Rose.
User response to date for Touchtv is extremely mixed, dominated by five-star and one-star ratings on the iTunes App Store (Showyou is nearly universally loved). Criticism for Touchtv mainly comes from users expecting to watch all of their programs in real-time on the iPad at no cost. Admittedly the library is limited, but I would keep an eye on Touchtv as the programming the participating networks release to it is of top quality. It looks like the app is just scratching the surface.
As you can see from this Robert Scoble-produced video, Kevin Pomplun, CEO of Touchtv parent company SkyGrid, is bullish on the company’s prospects.
Asked about comparing Showyou to Touchtv, Hall replied: “I think we'll leave product comparisons to others. We feel confident we have the leading social video app for the iPad and others seem to agree.”
He added that Showyou was picked as one of the best social apps for the iPad by Apple for 2011, and recognized by Wired as a top social app last year.
Of course there is nothing really social about Touchtv, so that data point is moot in any comparison. For iPad owners, there is no reason not to download each. And in my experience connecting the two with my Apple TV via Airplay, Touchtv videos were better optimized to a 50-inch Sony television set.
Showing you more of Showyou
Showyou parent company Remixation is backed by True Ventures and individuals from a Series A round raised in 2007. The company started web video curation service Vodpod, which it sold last September. Hall sits on the board of Remixation with Wordpress CEO Toni Schneider, and YouTube Head of Display Suzie Reider is an advisor.
The company says the average session length for Showyou is between 35 and 40 minutes. There are currently more than 30,000,000 shared videos found in the Showyou search index, with up to 250,000 videos added each day. Access to all content is currently free, although the company may add premium services in the future.