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What is Byte? The internet's new old-school, short-form video app.

Byte, a video app that produces short looping videos, created by Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann, went live last week. Copyright Byte
Copyright Byte
By Kalhan Rosenblatt with NBC News Tech and Science News
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Byte, a new short-form video app, hopes to capitalize on the nostalgia of the now-defunct Vine, but will have to contend with a saturated market.


The Byte doesn't fall far from the Vine.

Almost eight years after launching the internet's short-form video format, Dom Hofmann is back with a new app in what has become a crowded field.

Hofmann launched Byte, an app that gives users the ability to make short looping videos, on Friday. The app is similar to Vine, which Hofmann, Colin Kroll and Rus Yusupov launched in 2012 and then sold to Twitter, which later shut it down.

This time around, Hofmann has serious competition, primarily from TikTok, the Vine-like app that has been embraced by young users as an easy way to make creative videos.

Users have already picked up on Byte's lineage. A drove of users — including former Vine stars — have joined the app and begun crafting their own short videos.

Byte appears to be an attempt to recapture the "extremely online" humor that Vine unleashed on the internet. But where Vine had little competition when it launched, Byte now faces TikTok and a growing market of similar apps offering a variety of features.

Currently, Byte does not allow for duets — side-by-side video reactions — filters or augmented reality that has been popularized by TikTok.

Hofmann has teased that Byte is still in its beta stage — and that changes are coming.

How does Byte work?

Much like TikTok, Byte — available on iOS and Android — presents users with a feed of content from people they follow, in addition to a page to find new content, a search page and a profile page.

The content is fed in a stream of videos on an endless scroll, similar to TikTok's "For You" page.

Users can upload videos they've recorded off the app or use the app's built-in camera to shoot six-second videos, which can then be uploaded to their page.

Videos can also be downloaded from the app to be shared on other platforms like Twitter or Instagram.

Byte, like Vine, was built to loop videos seamlessly in a way that TikTok users sometimes strive — and often fail — to replicate.

"We're bringing back six-second looping videos and the community that loved them," the app's description reads in the iOS App Store. "Nostalgia is our starting point, but where we go next is up to you."

Who is using Byte?

A range of users have already joined the app.


While some users will be brand new to short-form video, former Vine stars and current TikTok stars have already begun to appear on the app.

Vine's Chris Melberger and TikTok's Benji Krol both appear to have made accounts on the app.

Users on Byte have also started a trend of teasing the TikTokers who have joined the app, saying they'll need to speed up their dance videos, a mainstay of the content produced on TikTok, in order to account for the six-second time limit. Others made videos saying to leave TikTok trends off the app.



Byte may also entice new and old users with its upcoming partner program, which will allegedly pay content creators on the platform.

"Very soon, we'll introduce a pilot version of our partner program which we will use to pay creators. Byte celebrates creativity and community, and compensating creators is one important way we can support both. Stay tuned for more info," Byte tweeted.

Will Byte succeed?

Byte has plenty of short-form video apps to contend with, including Dubsmash, Triller, Firework and Facebook's Lasso, according to tech publication TechCrunch.

However, the app may have two things working in its favor.


The first is the nostalgia the app desperately hopes to capitalize on. Fans of Vine have longed for the return of the app since it was shut down by Twitter in 2016.

At its peak, Vine had more than 200 million active users, according to TechCrunch. However, that number is dwarfed by TikTok's 1.5 billion active users, according to analytics siteSensorTower.

The other element that could work in Byte's favor among U.S. users is that it is an American-owned and made product.



TikTok is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance and has come under scrutiny for potential security risks.

ByteDance says that TikTok does not operate in China and that it stores American user data in the U.S.

That claim has been questioned by politicians, including Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who wrote in a letter in October that the app must still adhere to the laws of China.

A risk assessmentof the app was later reported to have been opened by the U.S. government.

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