Just when TikTok has climbed all the way to the top of the App Store charts to become the most addictive app of the moment, the ghosts from App Store’s past have come back to haunt us.
Dom Hofmann, the founder of Vine, is back with a new app, byte, that centres around “bringing back six-second looping videos.” The app’s tweet from January 24th also says that byte is “both familiar and new.” Did we mention that it's also currently at the top of Apple’s US App Store?
It’s hard to imagine anything replicating, much less beating, TikTok’s incredible features – the lo-fi special effects and the booming audio track trade that made it an unbeatable meme factory. TikTok is a beautiful, chaotic mess of moving parts and multi-purpose buttons.
But byte is already looking like it’s up for the task. The app relies on neon lighting, floating CDs, and holographic smartphones to tell us it knows about TikTok lighting and cares about retro vibes. It looks like something you’d find in the Apple Arcade, except it’s a week-old app (with years of history behind it). byte also has a Creator Program, aimed at helping creators exchange tips and share opportunities, the Google Form to get started with the program asks if you were a Vine user in the past – almost like it’s calling Viners back home.
byte is very much a startup at the moment, working through kinks in its comment section with plans to at some point give users the ability to like comments and block or filter their comments. The developers also have plans to work on “creation features.”
In a way, byte and TikTok are long-lost siblings. In August of 2018, users on an app called Musical.ly woke up to find that their accounts had been migrated to this then-new Chinese import called TikTok. Vine pioneered the funny, artistic, meme-ish short-form video and many Viners relied on apps like Musical.ly to make lip-synching videos they then posted on Vine. (When Twitter bought Vine from its founders and found it couldn’t turn the profit it wanted, Vine was shut down.) TikTok’s overnight success is largely due to its purchase of Musical.ly and the vacuum Vine left in its wake.
A quick scroll through the app's feed and discover pages reveals that most of byte’s users are former Viners, current TikTok’ers, or both. The Vine nostalgia is very real – enough to turn TikTok into the app of the decade. And given how easy it is to spend hours on either of those apps, there might just be enough love to go around.