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HTC launches Zoe video-editing app, hopes to catch social fever

Zoe, which will be available on Android and iOS, represents the first app out of HTC's newly formed Creative Labs, tasked with building apps and devices that go beyond its smartphones.

HTC wants to create its own social-networking phenomenon.


The company on Wednesday officially launched the Zoe video-editing app on Android and said it would come to Apple's iOS devices later this year.

Zoe, which automatically stitches together photos and videos and adds music for a highlight reel, represents the first app to come out of HTC's newly formed Creative Labs division and marks a departure for a company that has traditionally built mobile devices.

HTC refers to this as the "third act" for the company, which got its start building mobile devices for bigger brands before eventually establishing the HTC name as a credible consumer brand in its own right. For the third act, the company is working on software such as the Zoe app and on devices beyond smartphones. The Creative Labs division acts as an incubator within HTC, developing ideas and areas that could become new business avenues for the company.

A distinct feature of both Zoe and the newly unveiled Re camera is the subtle link back to HTC. The company is pushing the service and device to the forefront, preferring to leave behind HTC's reputation in smartphones.

"Zoe is a standalone experience and a standalone business," said Drew Bamford, head of Creative Labs for HTC. He made it clear that Zoe was not designed to sell smartphones.

Zoe was a popular feature found on the original HTC One, and again on the HTC One M8. Earlier this year, HTC said it would open Zoe up to other devices, and for the last few months it's held a beta to test out Zoe as a standalone app.

The app will take anywhere between 1 and 16 pieces of content -- photos or videos -- give you the option of background music and accompanying filters and texts, and put them together into video. HTC wants people to share the Zoe videos, creating an Instagram-like social network. People are able to share the videos on Facebook and Twitter as well.

There are a number of startups attempting to build their own social networks, and Zoe is just one of many hoping to create viral interest. It does have the advantage of having an active base among HTC smartphone users.

But with its push to Android and iOS, HTC hopes to go beyond its own smartphones.