Video-sharing site Vimeo has finally introduced an official iOS application. The app provides access to Vimeo’s library of online video, but it emphasizes the ability to record, edit and upload your own videos to the service first and foremost. That’s a wise move for a service that has to differentiate itself from clear market leader YouTube, which comes pre-installed on every shipping iOS device.
When you first launch the app, it asks you to sign up for or log in to your Vimeo account, then immediately takes you to the “My Stuff” screen. But the first tab in the app’s bottom navigation bar is “My Videos,” and it allows you to either shoot a new video directly within the app or add an existing one from your iPhone’s library. If you’ve already have uploaded videos to Vimeo, they’ll appear on this screen, too. The second tab along the bottom navigation bar is a Recordings section, which allows you to create video projects using multiple clips, either taken from your library or recorded directly from within the app.
From the Recordings tab, you can combine video clips and use a simple video editor built into the Vimeo app that lets you add simple titles and text to the clip, create transitions and add a soundtrack. It’s a pretty bare-bones editor, but it’s also one that works remarkably well considering it’s not even the primary purpose of the app. It feels like you could do a pretty great job of shooting, editing and publishing simple, impressive short videos, all without ever leaving Vimeo.
Vimeo may have taken its time with releasing this app (Ryan Lawler had the scoop on its planned existence way back in September of last year), but I think the company definitely went the right way by choosing to offer more than just basic access to its web-based content. The app does that, of course — enabling browsing and access to your saved content and account management tools — but it also provides much more. It’s a clear attempt on Vimeo’s behalf to appeal to content creators, and it should provide the site with a slight edge in attracting mobile uploaders.
Of course, as a result of its impressive video creation and editing tools, it also has a limited reach. The Vimeo app is only compatible with the iPhone 3GS and 4, iPod touch (4th gen) and the iPad 2. That leaves a lot of iOS devices out of the loop. It’s a calculated risk on Vimeo’s behalf, since the company clearly prioritizes reaching creators above a casual browsing audience. Given how solid the capture and edit side of the app is, I think it’s a smart move, and one that represents a better long-term investment than just rushing to market with a watered-down, but more generally compatible, product.