Music video service Vevo released a completely revamped iPhone app to its U.S. users Thursday, introducing a bold new design direction that the company eventually wants to bring to other platforms and markets as well. The release of the app happens to coincide with the release of YouTube Music for mobile, but Vevo’s new iOS app took a lot more cues from social apps like Tinder and Snapchat than from existing video services.
The Tinder influence is immediately obvious upon launching the Vevo app for the first time. As part of the onboarding process, users have to tell Vevo about their favorite artists. Vevo’s new app does so by presenting full-bleed pictures of those artists, letting users swipe left or right — just like they would on Tinder to find a potential match.
Big imagery continue to dominate the app experience after the onboarding. The main screen consists of a seemingly endless stream of videos, each presented with a full-screen image that’s been optimized for the app. Vevo’s team has been working nonstop for eight weeks to prepare the imagery for the app, explained product manager Jose Gonzales during a recent interview.
The home screen feed presents the latest videos from artists that users have selected as their favorites, Tinder-style, and mixes them with recommended videos from related artists. Vevo is using its huge treasure trove of music data for these recommendations, and the app will refine its recommendations based on user behavior, explained Gonzales: “The app will definitely get a lot smarter over time.”
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In addition to the main video feed, there’s also a feed of favorites that offers direct access to a user’s favorite artists, videos and playlists. “People watch a lot of the same content over and over again,” said Gonzales. Vevo’s app wants to cater to that behavior by making it easier to go back to the most popular videos of Beyonce, Bieber and the likes. Said Gonzales: “There is a reason that they have so many views.”
The most striking thing about the new Vevo app is that there are little to no menu items to chose from. The service’s previous iOS app offered a multitude categories like “top videos” and “featured videos,” musical genres and more. All of this is gone, as the Vevo team was looking to “let the UI get out of the way,” as Gonzales said. He added that early tests of the new app showed users spending a lot less time searching, but a lot more time actually watching videos.
This kind of invisible IU approach is again something that’s very familiar to anyone who has ever used Snapchat or Tinder — but it’s very different from YouTube’s approach. YouTube, of course, has been a long-time frenemy of Vevo. The Google-owned video site is Vevo’s biggest distribution partner, but the two also directly compete with each other in the mobile space. And with Vevo’s new app, that competition just got a little more interesting.