Google Strangely Releases ‘Photovine’ App for iPhone, Not Android

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If I had a nickel for every time I got pitched an “exciting new photo sharing app!” I’d have something like 40 cents. Maybe 35. Still, photo sharing is a really crowded space, one that’s currently being dominated by the likes of Instagram, which recently charted just over 5 million users accounting for over 95 million pictures uploaded.

But with Path, Photobucket and more already in the fray, and with Facebook set to launch their own presumably “awesome” app (Zuck’s words, not mine) sometime soon, the question we inevitably need to consider is this: Do we really need another photo sharing app?

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The LA Times is reporting that Google quietly revealed their version, Photovine, which is already available for download—strangely enough—for the Apple iPhone, though you’ll need to snag an invite to actually begin using the free service.

Weirdly, a Google Android version isn’t yet available, and it’s unclear whether or not the service will be cross-platform. (It likely will be.)

Photovine’s premise is different from its competition, at least from what I can tell, because its strategy centers around a social game: Someone submits a photo with a caption, and other people can submit their own photos to fall underneath that caption, taking whatever creative liberties they want (Google is calling these photo threads “vines”). It’s kind of like playing “telephone,” but using photos. Here’s what the official app description states:

Photovine is a fun way to learn more about your friends, meet new people, and share your world like never before. It all starts with what we call a photovine: a group of photos around a single, shared caption. Start a new vine with a photo and caption of your own or add your photo/take on someone else’s vine.

For example, in the video posted above, a young lady starts the game off by taking a picture of her puppy under the caption “warm and fuzzy.” A couple sees her post, then takes a romantic picture together that’s also “warm and fuzzy.” Then, someone snaps a shot of a shirtless Zach Galifianakis-looking dude also under the caption “warm and fuzzy.” You get the point.

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It’s a cool premise, and Google is still in the process of distributing invites. Certainly, the social aspect centered around a game differentiates Photovine pretty clearly from what Instagram does. Plus, it’s Google, and people seem to like it when they do things. But will it be a slam dunk with the photo sharing crowd? Possibly— we’ll find out soon enough.

Based on what you know so far (and the video above), do you think you’d actually play? Let me know— maybe we can get a vine going.

[via LA Times]

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.