Friday, February 21, 2020

What is Byte?

Byte was developed by Vine co-founder Dom Hoffman. Since the app is still new, it’s currently only available on Android and iOS. Even though Byte had a run-in with bots shortly after launch, it still reported a promising first week of downloads.

Signing Up

After you download the app, Byte asks you to sign in. Right now, there’s not an option to make a standalone account in the app. You can either choose Sign in with Google or Sign in with Apple if you’re using the app on an iOS device. I tested the app on a Pixel 3, so Byte only listed Sign in with Google. 

This sign-in method can be convenient. But in the event of a data breach, every account that uses the same password will be at risk. We reached out to Byte for comment, and will update when we hear back.

Navigating the App

Byte’s interface is similar to that of TikTok, since the two apps are set up to do basically the same thing. Until you start following other users, Byte will show a variety of videos in your home feed. If you tap the magnifying glass, you can start exploring content. The app sorts videos into different categories like trending stuff, or genres like comedy, anime, weird things, pets, magic and more, instead of hashtags, like TikTok uses. 

When you tap a collection, the videos will start to play, and you can scroll through. Tap the profile icon in the bottom left to view the creator’s profile and follow their account. If you tap the slanted arrow, it displays sharing options, and you can “rebyte” or share the video on other social media. Tap the speech bubble to leave a comment, or tap the heart to like it (double-tap on the screen works too). It felt a little cleaner to me than TikTok’s axis of buttons.

To create your own video, tap the white circle button in the middle of the screen. Once you start interacting in the app, you can see your notifications (followers, likes, rebytes, etc.) by tapping the lightning bolt icon at the bottom. Finally, the little person icon takes you to your profile. If you haven’t posted anything, nothing will be there, but you can explore your liked Bytes or Rebytes by tapping the three-dot settings icon at the top left. 

The settings menu also has a way for you to check your Stats — your number of followers, how many times your Bytes have been “looped,” or watched, and how many “loops” you’ve watched. This can be helpful if you’re trying to establish yourself on the site, or get your 15 minutes of fame. In settings, you can also view your followers and those you follow, manage any accounts you’ve blocked, or deactivate your account. 

Making a Video

When you’re ready to make your first Byte, tap the circle button at the bottom of the screen. You can either upload a video from your phone or film a new one. If you want to upload an old video, tap the picture icon on the bottom far right. Tap to select your video. Byte videos can last up to only 6.5 seconds (compared to TikTok’s 15 seconds), so you’ll need to do some editing if it’s too long. Drag the edit bar if you want to capture a different section of the video. Tap ‘x’ to go back, play to view the clip or double-check what’s in your clip. When you’re satisfied, tap the arrow on the right to continue. 

Publish your video by tapping the Post button in the bottom right, or add a caption. If you tap Add to Channel, you can put your video into one of the genre channels to help others find it. Check or uncheck Save to Gallery if you want to keep the clip, and then hit Post.

For now, it doesn’t look like there’s anything by way of special effects to add, especially in comparison to TikTok’s near-professional suite of editing tools. However, the app does offer Ghost Mode: If you tap the ghost icon while filming, it’ll make your original image look faded, creating a dream-like or flashback effect. 

Byte’s camera controls work almost in reverse of TikTok’s. In the Byte app, if you lift your finger off the record button, the recording stops. This could make it easier to film cool stop-motion Bytes or animations. In TikTok, tapping the camera starts the recording and tapping the button again stops it. 

I liked that even if you close the Byte app and then come back, your video will be where you left it. You won’t lose where you left off unless you tap the ‘x’ in the top left. And of course, the reverse arrows on the bottom left swap between front- and back-facing cameras. 

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