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Hashtags. What are they good for? #Clueless? Everything You Need To Know About Twitter Hashtags #Clueless? Everything You Need To Know About Twitter Hashtags Some people #use #them #for #every #freaking #word; others ignore them altogether. It might leave you wondering: what are hashtags even for? Am I using Twitter wrong if I don't use them? And are people... Read More When they were first invented in 2007, they were used by Twitter users to easily follow a chain of events, or to easily track posts that relate to a single theme. Now, they’re mostly used as glib statements of how one is feeling. #boring

Floridian startup Life In Hi-Fi think the humble hashtag could be put to much better use 3 Secret Ways To Use Hashtags You've Never Tried Before 3 Secret Ways To Use Hashtags You've Never Tried Before The basic purpose of a hashtag, of course, is to find a list of all posts about a certain topic, but why not take it out of the Web services that already integrate it, and... Read More . Meet their debut app, Hi-Fi. It’s the first ‘mobile lifestyle network’, and melds the best of Tumblr and Pinterest with the concept of hashtags… but is it any good?

Do You Need Another Social Network?

The social network space is an extremely crowded one indeed. We’re all familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And on the periphery of this sphere, there are countless other sites.

Sites like Ello, which launched earlier this year to rapturous applause Meet Ello: The Hip New Social Network You Need To Know About Meet Ello: The Hip New Social Network You Need To Know About It has been said that when a social network makes a small change, it cause a schism, sending users fleeing elsewhere. They're heading to ello.co. Read More from both the technology press and mainstream media, and yet still hasn’t been able to effectively challenge the incumbents.

Hi-Fi isn’t a social network, at least not in the traditional sense. With Facebook and Twitter, the overwhelming emphasis is to be constantly creating content, and constantly writing posts, comments and sharing videos. That’s not really the case with Hi-Fi.

Rather, Hi-Fi is more about consuming content. You tell it what you want, and it then shares with you photos, videos, text and GIFs that are pulled from the entire Hi-Fi community of users. You’re much less pressured to contribute, as everyone is contributing to the same pot of content.

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hifi-music

When you sign up for the first time, you’re asked to select what you’re most passionate about from a list of icons. This ranges from the incredibly vague (‘life’), to the predictable (‘music’ and ‘film’) and the surreal (‘hunting’).

hifi-tagtopics

Then, you can select what hashtags you wish to follow. For some reason, these are known in the app as ‘TagTopics’. Perhaps as a testament to the early stages of Hi-Fi, the range of TagTopics that exists is limited. At the time of writing, there wasn’t a ‘technology’ TagTopic available for me to follow, although there was one for Android and Apple. And one for Pineapples, weirdly.

The aim of Hi-Fi is seemingly to bring a bit of order to the unstructured chaos of social media, much like Pinterest does with its ‘pinboards’. Ironically, the app itself could only be described as chaotic, with a user-interface that is raw and jagged, and feels unintuitive at times.

Navigating through the quagmire of screens, views and buttons was a matter of trial and error, aided with random thrusts in the direction of my iPad screen. Things aren’t where you’d expect them to be, and hi-fi’s haphazard approach to button design makes this app a usability nightmare.

hifi-fingerprint

For example, the button to bring up the ‘new post’ screen is a fingerprint. It doesn’t say ‘create post’. There’s not even a little plus sign; a symbol that has long been associated with content creation. A fingerprint.

After 10 minutes of using this app, I found myself with a splitting headache and I wanted to go back to bed. Which is a shame, because the concept behind Hi-Fi is quite an interesting one.

Consuming Content In Hi-Fi

Right now, Hi-Fi supports text, picture, GIF and video posts.

As you’d expect from any modern social network, posts can be ‘liked’ (in Hi-Fi parlance, this is known as ‘cert-hifing’. No, I didn’t make that up), commented upon and reposted. When any of these things happen, you receive a notification.

hifi-certhifi

I was surprised that given Hi-Fi puts a music channel at the forefront of their curated channels users lack the ability to post music, or to embed SoundCloud postings. Given that iPads and iPhones are content creation devices in their own right, with a port of GarageBand available for iOS 5 Reasons To Spend $5 On GarageBand for iOS [iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch] 5 Reasons To Spend $5 On GarageBand for iOS [iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch] Apple’s popular home music production suite GarageBand has been iOS-friendly on the iPad for a while now, and thanks to last month’s update iPhone and iPod Touch users can finally jam along too. This article... Read More , this feels like a major oversight.

hifi-mayer

However, in defense of Hi-Fi, users are able to post links to Youtube and Spotify, effectively piggypacking third-party services to share music.

hifi-video

Hi-Fi also supports video posts. These broadly range from animated gifs, all the way to baby videos taken on iPhone cameras. I even saw a bit of Go-Pro footage knocking about too.

Content Creation in Hi-Fi

Posting content in Hi-Fi is done through the mobile app. The options on offer include text, video and photo posts, as well as GIFs which can be created through the app’s built-in GIF editor.

hifi-post-picture

The Hashtag is at the forefront of Hi-Fi, and posts themselves are categorized using them. You can use as many as you want, so long as they all fit into 35 characters of space. In addition, posts are also categorized into one specific channel. This is entirely of your choosing, and you can post to channels you don’t follow yourself.

Posts you make can also be shared with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

hifi-text-post

Video, photo and text posts all follow the same formula. There’s the channel, the hashtag, and the content. A small passage of text can be added to video and photo posts, although you cannot change the color and the color gradient, as you can on posts that are exclusively text.

Hi-Fi: Tumblr For The Rest Of Us?

There are a lot of things that let Hi-Fi down. Badly. There’s the lack of native iPad support. There’s the bizarre design choices that make it incredibly unintuitive to use. There’s the ridiculous hi-fi themed names for things that already exist.

But behind that, there’s a solid idea. Firstly, the idea that a social network can be a passive experience, not focused on the creation of posts, pictures and comments. This worked for Tumblr, and it’s interesting to Hi-Fi take the Tumblr formula, and transform it into a deeply visual, deeply focused experience.

Secondly, the idea of a social network where one curates what is seen, and opts-in to being exposed to things. It can’t be overstated how unique that is, especially when one considers the extent to which our Facebook feeds Don’t Be an Experiment: How to Control Your Facebook News Feed Don’t Be an Experiment: How to Control Your Facebook News Feed What determines what is and isn't a top Facebook post? How often you interact with a person, topics you're interested in, how many likes or comments the post attracts, and – apparently – psychological experiments. Read More and Twitter timelines are meddled with.

It’s still very early days for Hi-Fi. And there’s still time to impress.

Will you be signing up? Let me know about it. The comments box is below.

  1. Luis Andres
    February 15, 2015 at 5:27 am

    I totally agree with your thoughts on this app. I felt lost when I've played with it as well. There is no virtual dimension to the app. Even though the latest version of Hi-Fi is much better now, it still lacks proper virtual dimension to my taste. Pinterest and Tumblr do a good job in creating virtual dimension within their website and mobile apps, so the UX experience feels right to me. If your going to do content curation to supposedly weed out the noise in mobile only then it needs to be real simple and clean like Instagram. But instagram hashtags are not primarily used for content curation, they are used for self expression and over used adding more noise than utility. I think they went wrong by not having a web presence either. I'm not interested in seeing a bunch of Floridans who are not my friends taking beach pictures of themselves. Which poses a big problem to scale such an app. You're friends are not there so what is the purpose for me to use this app? my friends are now on instagram so I will stay there. But if the app's main purpose was to create and discover quality content then they may have a chance at scaling.

    I'm working on a web app called Qweboo. The Social web's 1st hashtag communication platform. But it's really about Quality Content not selfies or pictures of a bunch of dip shits I don't care about.

  2. Wax
    October 24, 2014 at 3:47 am

    You are right Matthew - it's Floridian that should be criticised for the poor name choice for their IOS product, not Apple. My point that the name is inappropriate still holds, but I shouldn't blame Apple.

    • Matthew Hughes
      October 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Interesting. Thanks so much for your comment, Wax!

  3. Wax
    October 23, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Given the slow adoption of loss-less let alone audiophile quality sound by i-tunes, isn't Apple's use of HiFi inappropriate, given it's currently accepted as the abbreviation for "High Fidelity". I hope they don't try to own the term.

    • Matthew Hughes
      October 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      Hey! Hi-Fi isn't actually an Apple product. It's made by another company entirely. Unless I mistook your point?

  4. brykins
    October 23, 2014 at 7:01 am

    ERM.....a social network for iOS users only? No thanks.

    • Matthew Hughes
      October 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      Aye, I can see that being a barrier to adoption. I've not heard any word on whether they're going to move it to another platform or not.

      Thanks for your comment!

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