Socialcam: Mobile video sharing done right

Sharing videos from your iPhone is easy and fun with this new app, thanks to clever technical and social features.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read
Socialcam has a Path-like view of videos on its iPhone app, but the real trick is how easy it makes it to share videos instantly with Facebook and Twitter. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

Socialcam is hardly the first mobile app to record and share videos. Remember 12 Seconds? Didn't make it. But not because it was the wrong idea. As Socialcam shows, video sharing from a mobile device can work extremely well. The secret is the execution.

Socialcam has technical tricks as well as social ones. It starts uploading your videos as soon as you start recording. So when you press "stop" and go to upload your video, you may find the progress bar already pretty well filled in. If you take a video and you don't have a connection, the app will just store it until you do. You don't have to worry about it.

Socially, the app ties into Facebook smoothly. You can tag your friends in your videos as soon as you take them, and this puts the vids on their walls--so people will actually see your videos even if they're not Socialcam users. Sharing on Twitter, or on e-mail or SMS, is also a simple operation.

Socialcam is great for sharing video of friends on Facebook, but it could also be an important app in citizen journalism and revolution. Like Instagram, the even-easier-than-Twitpic photo sharing site, it makes sharing media so simple that it fundamentally alters the experience, when compared with previous products that did the same thing.

Socialcam is a production of Justin Kan's Justin.TV. I first met Justin at a party in 2007, when he was still live-streaming from a camera mounted on his head. He's gotten smarter about video since then. Justin.TV is a growing video business, but as Kan told me at the Socialcam launch party, the Justin.TV app still requires too much work for the everyday user. It requires people to know if they want to stream video live, or record first for playback later; also they need to worry about their Internet connection. Socialcam does far less than the mobile video studio that Justin.TV is, but it takes so much of the thinking out of the equation that it makes doing video much easier. Because of that, it is likely to become a more powerful and important service.

Here's a Socialcam video from the product's launch party, which I attended in the line of duty Tuesday night. I didn't stay long: