Google's Uptime app is a more social way to watch YouTube videos

Google's Area 120 startup incubator, set up last year to allow Googlers to play startup pioneer in their "20% time," has just birthed its first product — a social video app called Uptime.

The idea behind uptime, which right now is only available for the iPhone, is relatively simple: First, sign in with your Google account and connect with your friends. Then you can watch YouTube videos together in real time, with your avatars journeying their way around the outside of the frame to show your progress. You can add Facebook Live-style reaction emoji as you go, along with written comments similar to Soundcloud and other platforms.

This could be how we'll share the video-watching experience in the future.

The app has a goofy, whimsical look to it not unlike Snapchat, and it's clear there's much potential here beyond merely offering a more social way to enjoy stuff on YouTube — live streaming for instance, or a way to share the experience of watching a full-length movie.

The premise is an interesting one — sharing the experience of watching together, even if your friends aren't gathered around the same TV, or huddled over the same phone. And while Uptime is very much separate from the rest of Google and YouTube, it's easy to see how some of these features might eventually find their way into the core YouTube experience.

There's no Android or web version of Uptime at present, nor is there any guarantee Uptime will stick around in the long term. Nevertheless, if you have an iPhone handy to test it out, it's worth a look.

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.