Meet Yubl - the social media magpie that's targeting Facebook's disaffected youth
Tired of Facebook and under 25? Yubl could be the social network for you, at least that’s what this British startup is hoping
When it comes to social networking, Facebook is the default. So much so that David Fincher’s 2010 film ‘The Social Network’ didn’t need to name it in the title – with a name like that, it was hardly likely to be Google Plus, was it?
Scratch beneath the surface though, and certain smaller networks are thriving. The likes of Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat have managed to carve their own networking niche, and a new platform intends to emulate their success: Yubl.
Aimed at the disinterested youth that’s quickly hemorrhaging from the mainstream Facebook, Yubl is a completely mobile social networking platform. And, despite the graveyard of failed social networking apps and websites – we’re looking at you MSN Spaces – Yubl looks poised to capture the fleeting attentions of young Brits with ease.
What’s in a Yubl?
I’ve spent far too long mulling the name Yubl over in my head. Where does it come from? After all, Snapchat is a conversation through ‘snapping’ photos, Twitter has flocks of people chirping their opinions into the ether, but what’s a Yubl?
As an app, Yubl could be described as an amalgamation of WhatsApp, Vine, Snapchat and Instagram. You can have private chats with friends or groups, share posts publicly in a timeline a la Twitter or see what’s happening on Yubl as a whole by viewing trending yubls from influencers, brands and publications.
While it may be hard to figure out what really sets Yubl apart from its peers, having used Yubl for the last week or so, it’s clear that its creativity and simplicity is its key differentiator. Speaking to Yubl’s product designers Ben Copping and James Parker, it’s clear this ethos has been part of Yubl from day one.
Yubl product designers James Parker and Ben Copping
“We really took a user-first approach rather than ‘the tech guys’ trying to think up a new piece of tech and then find a use for it later on”, explained Copping. “We’ve tried to consider something you can use in many different ways from the first day.”
That flexibility is one of Yubl’s key appeals. For the younger, digital-savvy audience Yubl is aiming for, creativity and expression are cornerstones of social networking. It’s an app that isn’t afraid to disrupt traditional usability tropes, and it’s telling that when you decide to start a new Yubl you aren’t presented with a blank text box, a camera capture button or an uploading tool, but a completely blank canvas for you to create upon.
You could take or upload a photo, resize or rotate it, throw down stickers or some text on top and even include Yubl’s intriguing interactive buttons too. “It’s a square canvas, and I call it a canvas because it’s essentially a square area onto which you put stuff. It can be pictures, video, you’re essentially collaging”, explains Copping. Of course, that’s only if you want to. “If you just want to send out at text, graphics or a feature then you can do that as well. It’s up to you, we’re not making you use these canvases, but they’re there when you want to make something cool.”
One example of Yubl’s streamlined appeal comes in the form of organising your typical post-work pub trip. Instead of all those messy back-and-forth group messages trying to mobilise the troops, you can simply drop in a message saying “Hey, anyone want to come to the pub? Same place as last time!” throwing in an A/B poll to gauge a time to meet and sit back and watch the results. Instead of replying with a text, your friends could send over a charming selfie complete with stickers, confirming their attendance with a press of a button on your poll.
So far, so standard messaging app. However, unlike other social platforms, Yubl’s chats exist as a live unified space. When one person interacts with a yubl, such as tapping an animation or playing a video, it happens on everyone’s device at the same time. It’s combining aspects of in-person socialising with online interactions.
This technology also lends itself to the various buttons users can drop into their yubls, ranging from simple polls with real-time results to a weblink button that gives verified users an indication of how often it’s been clicked. You can also share your location via a Yubl button, and even discover where friends are if you’re planning to meet somewhere – a perfect fit should you not remember exactly how to get to the aforementioned pub from last week.