HTC Zoe app released as beta — we've got a first look!

App provides a one-stop shop for sharing and remixing your video stories

HTC today is releasing its long-awaited Zoe app — used for sharing and letting your friends remix your video highlights — to Google Play in beta form. It's available for devices running Android 4.4, and not just HTC devices at that.

First, some background: Zoes were born in 2013 with the HTC One M7. They began as 5-second video clips that added a dimension to the Video Highlights HTC's gallery app would create, using photos, videos and Zoes to tell a story. (Samsung has done the same sort of thing on its phones in the past, and Google+ now does it on the server side, using your uploaded content.) Zoes also gave around 20 still images you could pick from. So they sort of were moving pictures, almost like animated GIFs, but not really.

With Sense 6 and the HTC One M8, Zoes changed a bit. They became a little more difficult to take, with the button for them moved off the main camera display. They also dropped the 5-second limit and require you to hold down the record button. Do it for more than a fives seconds or so and suddenly you're taking a traditional video, from which you can use whatever part you want in a video highlight. Same idea, we suppose, but that 5-second limit gave a better sense of context and purpose, much like Vine's time limit does. And the nomenclature became more muddied as well. Video Highlights are now Zoes, sort of.

HTC never did really get the sharing right, either. It initially tried an in-house Zoe Share site, but your content there would die out after six months, and it just never took off. But now, we have a proper Zoe app, which until today had lived as a stub app.

Let's take a quick look.

Zoe app

Sharing your stories — and letting your friends remix them — is easier than ever.

First things first: This is still very much a beta product. It works pretty well, but there are still a few clunky aspects. HTC expects a proper v1.0 release sometime this fall. It's also "beta" in name only. It's not using Google Play's beta track or anything, so there's no group or community to join. Just update the app already on your phone, or download the Zoe app from Google Play on another device.

The idea is this: The app lets you choose photos and videos to combine into a Zoe. It then lets you upload to the Zoe app for others to see. You follow your friends, and they follow you, and it all very much is a sort of Instagram/Vine experience. You see their content — along with the music and theming — and they see yours.

But what's more is that the content can be "remixed." If Alex and I are at an event and I share a Zoe from it, but Alex has some really cool stuff he wants to add, well, he can add it. And a third person could add in their content and reshare it as well. It's a cool feature, really. (But at some point there maybe should be a limit as to how far the remix goes?)

HTC Zoe feed

The main feed shows previews of each Zoe, along with the user who uploaded it, and when they did so. Tapping a Zoe takes you straight into it, in the comment view. Each Zoe preview also has a button for remixing, commenting and to "heart" a Zoe, just like you'd see in Instagram. You also can remix a Zoe from the comment view by hitting the + button, but there's nothing there that actually says "remix." It's a little unintuitive at the moment.

With the Zoe app, non-HTC devices get a good bit of the same functionality as the HTC One.

And non-HTC devices still get a pretty good experience here. You don't have the hardware BoomSound speakers like you do on the HTC One, of course, but you can use videos and photos from non-HTC devices, create Zoes, and share them just like on the HTC One. So there's really no difference there, now that "Zoe" doesn't really mean "short video clip used in a Video Highlight," we suppose. Logging in via Facebook or Google is simple, and you're right back where you left off. Pick and choose clips in the Zoe app from your non-HTC device, theme 'em, send 'em and you're on your way.

You're also able to share them through — here's an example of one that I did.

One thing that needs to happen ASAP though: Notification control.

All in all it's not a bad experience, and it's a good (if long overdue) start from HTC. It seems like it's finally figured out exactly what it wants "Zoe" to mean (again, long overdue given that we've been talking about them since early 2013), and what it wants to do with them. And HTC's done the right thing by bringing this feature to Google Play, and to non-HTC devices. The Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4 and Note 3 were all specifically name-dropped, as was the Nexus 5. And we've got Zoe up and running on the LG G3, sideloaded. Sense 6 devices are all good to go, HTC says, and the list should continue to grow. (Update: OK, the list of supported Android 4.4 devices is smaller than we expected. HTC says they'll be adding more phones.)

Phil Nickinson
  • G2 not working Posted via Android Central App
  • Nor the N4, for what it's worth. Posted via Android Central App
  • Yeah not available for my G3 either :( Posted from my LG G3 or Nexus 5
  • yep not that i would use it but i would like to try it
  • +1 BTW not for OnePlus one either... Posted via the Android Central App from my OnePlus One
  • Works with the M8 GPE. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Won't work on moto x either
  • "Your device not compatible" Verizon G2. Posted via Android Central App
  • no love for moto x.
  • Not compatible with my n7 I kid I kid.. :) Next-us
  • Doesn't work on either year Nexus 7 or Moto X. Seems to work on a short list of devices right now.
  • Not for my D855 UK G3 :(
  • Same for my D851 Posted via Android Central App
  • It's a great way to share short video presentation of your photos along with music. I just tried the website and found that we can see each individual photo included in the videos. It's a nice feature. I rarely use Zoes on my One M7 but I think I will use it more now that more friends can share theirs with me as well. Being able to share to Facebook and Instagram is neat too.
  • Another site is saying that it only works for htc devices for now.... Color me confused. Next-us
  • Then that site is wrong.
  • It can't be wrong, most people can't get it on a huge range of phones. Posted via Android Central App
  • I've got it loaded on Samsung and LG phones. So "HTC only" is most certainly not correct.
  • What phone the galaxy s5? Posted via Android Central App
  • I have 4 phones on kitkat and not one of them is compatible. But there are others saying it works on some of the phones I have to so its HTCs app that needs to be fixed. Posted via Android Central App
  • HTC's said they'll be adding more phones.
  • Unless something changed from last night, it wasn't compatible with the Note 3 either. I'll check it again.
  • I stand corrected!!! Downloaded successfully! Will try shortly to see what it's all about. Thanks Phil.
  • Verizon G3 showing as not compatible:-( Posted via Android Central App
  • This app does not work on a lot of Android devices. Mine also says device not compatible. I think this app never should have been announced to work on Android devices when most popular ones it does not work on. Just saying. Posted via Android Central App
  • Working moved from nexus 5 to HTCm8
  • Will give it a shot once it's compatible. Posted via Android Central App w/G2
  • Would be better if you could pull pics from other storage (such as Google Drive).
  • Which non-HTC devices ARE compatible? Posted via Android Central App
  • I'd start with the ones I listed in the story.
  • How not to respond... Posted via the Android Central App
  • My apologies for losing patience. Please read the list of phones that were in the story.
  • You sound like such an apologist for HTC. Just admit this was pretty much a non story for most people. Like 98% of people. Posted via the Android Central App
  • lmao. Please point out where I said this was a big story.
  • You posted it right lmao. Such a bad attitude from the AC staff. That's why I love The Verge baby. Josh rules so does Nilay. Sorry Phil. This is me doing that nasal laugh at you that you always do where it sounds like snot is about to pour out of you nose. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The rest of us will somehow find a way to live with your disappointment, I'm sure.
  • You are such a horrible journalist...
    How dare you expect people to read your article before asking questions...
  • Ummm, The Verge is barely a tech site these days. I still faithfully come to AC and I think the staff is pretty cool.
  • Oh please the verge is 10 times the site ac is. In fact I'm pretty sure they are the most visited. And the reviews and long form articles are so much better written than anything on ac. And Phil has always had a shity attitude with readers. He is a pretentious smart ass. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Its all good though got the apk. From android police woohoo. Go AP. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Just because he added a "!" in the title doesn't mean he thinks its a big story. Pretty sure thats just you putting words in peoples mouth homie.
  • Downloading on my M7 GPE Posted via Android Central App
  • Works on my nexus 5. I read somewhere that any HTC phone running Sense 6, as well as Samsung's Galaxy S5, S4, Note 3, the LG G2 and G Pro, and the Nexus 5, works Posted via Android Central App
  • Note 3 works fine Posted via Android Central App
  • Works for me on my Samsung Galaxy S4 (Stock)
  • No go Z2 Posted via Android Central App
  • My Sprint LG G3 is not compatible Posted via Android Central App
  • Maybe because I'm running ART? Posted via Android Central App
  • And didn't read the article Posted via Android Central App
  • I did read the article. It states they do have it running on an LG G3. It doesn't say it won't run on ART. Posted via Android Central App
  • My apologies, there was an article that specifically state that it didn't run on art earlier and I got them confused. I am sorry Posted via Android Central App
  • No vzw g3 love either not using art Posted via Android Central App
  • Where is the apk lol Posted via Android Central App
  • Top of the article it has a button where it says play store click on that Posted via Android Central App
  • Not compatible with my G3 but compatible with my wifes Nexus 5.
  • Not compatible with Galaxy S3 either. Yeah, yeah I know it's old I'm just waiting for the new Moto X or the new Nexus to upgrade.
  • Still stuck on 4.4.2 on my G2. Thanks Sprint/HTC. Posted via Android Central App
  • *err LG
  • It's a no for UK G3. I'm vexed. Posted via Android Central App
  • Its NOT compatible with the LG G3 period! Posted via Android Central App On My T-Mobile LG G3
  • Not compatible with GNex, so can someone post the apk.
  • Oneplus one can't install it Posted via Android Central App
  • Not compatible on LG G3 on ATT.
  • No go on OPO Posted via the Android Central App
  • Re the G3: Ah, sure enough, not officially supported yet. (We'd sideloaded it just fine yesterday.)
  • Yep. I got super excited reading the headline and went to go download it on my AT&T LG G3 and now I'm sad. It's cool. I can sideload it as you pointed out.
  • Where can you side load it from? Link? Posted via Android Central App
  • Here you go Posted via Android Central App
  • droid life has the apk I just side load on my lg g3
  • Hey phil can u release a link to sideload on other devices please? Posted via Android Central App
  • Go grab the apk on Android Police. Works on my routed G2. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Picking nits: Zoes started as 3 sec clips on the M7, not 5 sec. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Grab the apk from Android police. I have it installed on my G3. Samsung Moment->HTC EVO->EVO LTE->LG G3
  • Not available for my Galaxy K Zoom Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good work HTC !! HTC Desire S»HTC Desire HD»HTC One S»HTC M8 (Naked)
  • Its for 4.4.4 and above and nexus 5 is working Posted via the Android Central App
  • I kinda like it. It looks good if you use a bunch of zoes you've already taken and the themes are cool. I wish they decoupled the transitions from the themes because some themes have cool transitions, but use filters I don't like. Also, you can only upload 15 of something. Images, clips, whatever. That's fine, but they should tell you that instead of letting you check as might as you want to only to not know why most of it doesn't show up. Posted via Android Central App
  • Its downloadable for my ace plus gt-s7500 from 2011. But I appear to be able to download ANY app except the cm11 themes anyway. I think its to do with my ROM. And I used market patcher a while back so I could download and get updates for GNL Posted via Galaxy ace plus running Speedmod 2.5 with Xposed
  • S4 not working Posted via the Android Central App
  • Z1 not working Posted via Android Central App
  • Zoes and Highlights (mostly Highlights) are the only reason I never changed my ROM to the Google Play edition. Nothing holding me back now.
  • Hello Posted via the Android Central App