Qwips, formerly known as 'Blurts', has released an iPhone application in the hope of adding a new dimension of interactivity to social networking.
On social networking sites like Twitter, Google+ or Facebook, the only audio user-generated content is within embedded video or podcasts. The Qwips app is based on changing this premise, and allowing users to add sound to their online interactions.
You can use the free iPhone app to voice caption photos, tag audio Tweets and Facebook posts, and to create voice conversation threads across social network platforms.
Earlier this year, the creators of the app, Voice Portraits Inc., secured $1.25 million in funding to further the project and improve features available. QWiPS is not intended to replace text, photos or video, but to stand alongside them.
The app is currently compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and the iPad, and requires iOS 4.1 or above. QWiPS will also be available on Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile in the first half of 2012.
When discussing the motives behind the app, Jeffrey Stier, the founder of QWiPs said:
With text and photos being largely tone deaf and not being able to deliver tone, nuance or authenticity (is it really that celebrity Tweeting or his agent?), QWiPS lets people quickly and easily add texture, passion and personality without the hassle or intrusiveness of video. At a time when Google+ and Facebook are tying to make social circles smaller and more meaningful, the power of voice, the power of QWiPS will appeal as an option to many social network users.
The features available through the iPhone app include:
Creation of 30-second audio QWiPS and tagging them to any static image or text, Facebook or Twitter post.
Telling a story behind a photo in your own voice, share comments, jokes and anecdotes.
Effects: It is possible to alter your voice for fun -- for example, making your voice message sound like a robot or a chipmunk.
Themes: You can create voice eCards to share online.
QwipBacks: Creating a threaded, voice conversation via the social web.
You can record, listen to, share and manage your QWiPS library from a browser on computer.
The concept is quite interesting, especially considering how quickly social networks are evolving. Most shared content continues to be in the form of static, monotone text and photos, and this could be a means in which to add an additional layer of engagement to user-generated content.
However, if it is going to work, then it has to be a quick and painless method to both record and access audio content. QWiPs allows this, without the need for video content, but it remains to be seen whether users will want to implement audio content on a meaningful scale.
It may be a fun addition for smartphone users, and my prediction is that it will appeal most to those that want to implement it for special occasions rather than everyday use -- for example, sending a birthday eCard with a voice message does add a personal touch to content. However, I can't see a multitude of Facebook photos including voice additions explaining each scene in the near future.