BuzzFeed’s first experimental app hits the App store today — and it’s everything you’d hoped it be.
The new app is called Cute or Not, and as you might imagine, it feels a lot like Tinder. Swipe right if the animal is adorable and cuddly, swipe left if it doesn’t strike your fancy. Users can upload photos of their own pets and track their cute status. For anyone with a guilty addiction to Cute Overload, this new app will surprise and delight. And for those of us not currently active on Tinder, this will feed your desire to swipe right.
Cute or Not is a reincarnation of an old editorial site of the same name. The site still exists, but BuzzFeed doesn’t maintain it. Readers are invited to upload pictures of their pets and subject them to a public vote of “cute” or “not.” However, there are hurdles to using the site. You have to take a picture of your pet, then upload it to your desktop, and then upload it to BuzzFeed’s site — a far from seamless experience. However, placed within the constructs of a mobile app, Cute or Not becomes much more fluid.
The release is the company’s first experiment with entertainment apps. Already BuzzFeed has what it calls its “core” app, which aggregates content from the main site and tailors it for a mobile display. But this new initiative means to engage with readers in a new way. The company has been on a hiring spree, building up both product and editorial teams around a set of apps that will test different ways of engaging with more niche audiences. In December, BuzzFeed acquired Minneapolis based mobile startup Hyper IQ to bolster its efforts.
The company currently has two more apps in the pipeline. First is a news app, which will feature original news content specifically for the app — not pulled from the main site. BuzzFeed’s News app may even feature stories and links to other news sites. The second app is a destination for video content. The News App is expected to debut this summer, though the video app is farther off.
BuzzFeed’s foray into mobile apps is certainly a sign of the times. A number of content providers and news publishers are looking at ways to leverage the mobile space. Just look to Snapchat’s Discover channel for evidence of this trend. CNN, Yahoo News, Vice, and Daily Mail all have dedicated resources towards creating easily consumable news snippets that can be viewed and swiped away within Snapchat.
Twitter is another entity exploring new ways to display and shape content. Last fall, the company launched a website that rallied around midterm elections in the U.S. The election website funneled a selection of tweets and news stories as well as analytics into a single hub for election news seekers.
There is a big opportunity for tech companies to play a role in the way that the news industry, which is struggling to find its footing in a digital world, serves up information and the way that we consume it. It’s clear that Buzzfeed is interested in taking on a leadership role in this space.