Facebook's new video app wants to clone the success of Snapchat and Vine

Facebook’s new video app makes it clear that Facebook is still trying to clone Snapchat’s continued success.

Riff is the newest standalone app from Facebook’s Creative Labs division, the social media company’s experimental apps department that has a track record of cranking out flops ranging from Snapchat clone Slingshot to other apps that have failed to take off, such as Paper, Rooms, and Groups.

With Riff, Facebook has created a Snapchat and Vine hybrid that allows users to record videos up to 20 seconds in length that can then be shared and expanded upon collaboratively by their friends.

Each video starts with just one person who selects a unifying topic such as #BalancingAct, but Facebook hopes your friends will see the video snippet and choose to join in the fun and turn it into a string of clips that can evolve into something else entirely. According to The Verge, you’ll also be able to choose from trending topics — just like in Vine.

To encourage people to contribute their own video to a friend’s Riff, Facebook has removed the ability to comment directly on Riff videos from within the app, though Riffs can be posted to Facebook where comments can take place.

Riff most closely resembles Snapchat’s Our Story feature, which allows users to upload 10-second videos revolving around a central topic such as “Snowmageddon,” the Oscars, or other social events like music festivals. Snapchat sifts through which videos to add to each Our Story collection, however; Riff is hoping to differentiate itself by allowing spontaneous collaboration and anyone to start the ball rolling with their own Riff.

“I love those Snapchat public stories, but for me those are a little more editorial in terms of like ‘I’m not at that event, and it feels like I’m there now,'” said Josh Miller, Facebook Creative Labs’ product manager, in an interview with The Verge. “We don’t know what a Riff is going to be good for, and our hunch is that we’re going to learn from the best ones in the community.”

You can download Riff starting today for both iOS and Android.

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