Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

David Karp Talks About Tumblr's New Video App


But with Cabana, Tumblr is getting a bit more personal.

The app can accommodate up to six people, all of whom will have the power to pause and change what the group is watching. Karp believes Cabana-which Tumblr has regrettably christened a "digital couch"-can re-create the moment you insist a friend watch a video in front of you, just so you can "be there for them experiencing it for the first time". How often do you share videos in your group chat to get the amusing reactions from your mates? That is a pretty differently shaped network than Tumblr is today. According to this morning's press release, the concept was developed by Polyvore Labs, an internal Yahoo incubator, and tested with Tumblr's core teenage audience. No word yet on an official launch date for the rest of the world but we will keep you posted as more news becomes available. Karp wouldn't say whether Cabana and Tumblr would integrate at any point. So Cabana is a different approach and way to think about social networking.

If the concept for this sounds similar to Houseparty, the video-chat app that achieved a stealthy sort of popularity a year ago, that's because it is.

"Cabana" is available now in the USA and you really need to download it. Then we started watching videos of people watching videos.

But that also brings up another issue: what can Cabana do to stand out, if a YouTube integration is its only unique feature? "One interesting thing we spent a lot of time on is making sure audio is balanced between in chat and hanging out".

For now, it sounds like those features will all revolve around watching, rather than Cabana expanding into other areas, like games. It's worth noting here that this app wasn't made in partnership with YouTube; Cabana merely taps in through the YouTube API. It's easy to imagine Netflix being the dream integration here, but it's not clear that a controlling service like Netflix would be interested or even able to make such a commitment.

Karp's own initial reaction to Cabana was that it finally captured the magic he had experienced so many times in person.

In its persistent quest to make the world a more distracting place, technology has blessed us with a ideal way to waste time: Cabana, Tumblr's first standalone app. Cabana is for talking face to face with 5 of your friends.

But as someone outside the target age range, I already know I'm going to stay far away.

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