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Google’s New Uptime App Turns Video Viewing Into a Group Experience

Google’s Area 120, an experimental R&D unit tasked with turning left field ideas from Google engineers into actual products, has released a new app that makes it possible to watch YouTube videos with friends. Uptime, as the app is called, includes chat functionality and emoji, and is best suited for vertical video viewing.

Uptime is currently only available for iOS, and requires an invitation code to use. However, the team behind it revealed on Twitter a few days ago that the code “PIZZA” works to get things started. The Verge was first to report about the new app this past weekend.

Uptime lets users chat in real-time with anyone who is watching the same video at the same time, and also leave emoji reactions that can be replayed after the fact.

In many ways, Uptime uses mechanics similar to live streaming apps like Periscope and Facebook live, but with a lower threshold for participation. Instead of having to produce original content, users just need to let others participate in their video viewing.

Area 120 was launched about a year ago as a way to formalize the Google-famous 20-percent process, which gives employees 20 percent time to work on side projects they’re passionate about. The unit is not only meant to incubate these projects, but could also spin them out into separate companies. Aside from Uptime, Area 120 has also developed an online scheduling tool for small businesses.

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