Showing You the Olympics on Your iPhone or iPad

If you want to watch coverage of actual athletic events at the London Olympics, you’ll have to live with what your local broadcaster chooses to make available on-air and online (in the United States, that would be NBC).

But if you’re an Olympics junky, you can tune into the Internet to “supplement” the official coverage. On Showyou, we’ve done a couple of things to make that easier, so that you can satisfy your Olympics-related cravings on your iPhone, iPad or even the web.

First, search on Showyou offers an up-to-the-minute, crowd-sourced feed of the best videos available on YouTube and Vimeo and other web videos sites. Over the next two weeks, we’ll keep the “Olympics 2012” suggested search available to you can always see what’s happening with a tap.

We’re also continually adding other Olympics-related suggested searches. Right now on Showyou you’ll see suggested searches for Olympic superstars NeymarLeBron JamesRyan LochteGabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber.

All of the videos in Showyou search (there are now over 55 million of them) are there because one of our users, or one of their friends, shared it on Showyou, Twitter, Facebook.

There are already over 31,000 videos in our index that are related to the London Olympics, and about 1800 have been added in just the last 24 hours (we’re adding about 1 Olympic-related video to our index every minute on average right now).

These videos are being shared from all over the world. Here’s a look at where those videos are being watched and shared:

Of course, this being the Internet, there are real gems among these videos. One of our favorites today: this video purporting to show a helicopter intercepting a UFO at the opening ceremonies. In fact, there is a whole grid of these types of videos!

You will undoubtedly encounter some videos that just don’t play. Why is that? Some Olympics-related videos from YouTube and Vimeo are shared on or through Showyou and subsequently taked down at the request of the IOC or its broadcast partners in each country. We have systems in place to remove these videos once we learn that they’ve been removed or disabled, but during high-volume events like the Olympics it sometimes can take us a few days to catch up with the backlog.


Showyou for your iPhone

Imagine the perfect video app for the iPhone: what would it look like?

You’d want to open the phone and immediately see videos magically picked just for you, preferably from people you know and trust and whose tastes you share.

Because we use our phones to communicate, to connect with the people who are important to us, it should need to be easy to share videos with a tap or two.

You’d like to be able to search for specific videos quickly and easily, and a way to browse by topic or channel.

You’d expect that videos would “just play” with a tap, seamlessly and fluidly.

You’d appreciate it if you could bookmark videos to watch later on another device (your iPad, your Mac or PC, or your TV via an Apple TV).

And last, you’d want a way to let your friends know when you’ve watched a video they’ve shared, or to tell them what you think about it.

When our team got together six months ago to talk about how to make Showyou really great on the iPhone and iPod Touch, that’s the list we imagined. And this is what we’re launching today:

At the heart of our new iPhone app is a new groundbreaking video feed, one made specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch versions of our app.

We look at all of the videos being shared by people you know and follow on Showyou and other social networks you’ve connected to Showyou. And then we show you the best ones, the videos that your friends and the people you know are sharing and watching and talking about.

Looking for something specific? You can search over 55 million videos, every one hand-picked by people using Showyou or their friends.

You can also browse videos coming from specific your social networks you’ve connected to Showyou, or from channels organized by category.

See a video you want to watch it later on a bigger screen? Just add it to your watch later queue and watch the video when it’s convenient: on the iPhone, iPad, or on the web with your Mac or PC. Or your TV via Airplay, with an Apple TV.

We felt it was important to do more than to help you find and watch videos with this new version of Showyou. When you watch something great, something wonderful, you almost always want to let your friends know. And with Showyou for the iPhone and iPod Touch, sharing videos and talking about them with your friends has never been easier.

When you see a video you like, it’s just a tap to share it. You can send it to just a few people privately (tap “Send”) or share it with the wider world (tap “Share”).

Write a reply or comment to tell your friends what you think about a video they shared. Or tap “Thanks” if you’re feeling lazy; we’ll let them know you watched their video and appreciated it.

The videos we find and watch and love give us ways to connect, to talk, to engage one another — even if we’re not in the same place.

We think this new version of Showyou for the iPhone and iPod Touch will entertain and inform you every time you use it. But we also hope it will give you a new and very fun way to connect with your friends and the people you care about. Have fun, and please let us know how we can make it better.


Under the Hood: Our New Feed for the iPhone

From the day we launched Showyou in April 2011, we’ve tried to do one thing well: show you the videos being shared by your friends and people you know. Videos from people you follow on Showyou, but also videos being shared on other social networks and video services you might use: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Vimeo.

On the iPad we can and do show you 100s of videos, all browsable with through with a few swipes using our 2D grid. People seem to like it. But of course that approach wouldn’t work on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

We’ve struggled with how best to adapt Showyou to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Instead of a grid, we provided a feeds you could vertically scroll. But the feeds were simple, reverse-chronological lists,  and it was all too easy to miss the best stuff if you didn’t check your feed frequently (a peril of so much of social media). You had to check multiple feeds to see everything. And, you often missed the social commentary.

The ideal solution, we felt, would be to have a single feed that showed you the 20-30 “best” videos at any given time. A feed where we could magically highlight the right videos for you from all the videos being shared by people and channels you follow — on Showyou, as well as any social networks you’ve connected to Showyou (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube or Vimeo). A few that would show you the conversation around the videos, too.

And that’s exactly what we’ve done with the new feed for the iPhone. We aggregate all the videos we find for you from friends and people you know, put them in a list, and then rank them.

The ranking algorithm is a little like PageRank, but using social signals from multiple heterogenous social networks instead of backlinks. We look at dozens of criteria to figure out what should go in your feed; including who shared the video, your relationship with that person, and how many other friends or people you know shared it.

We also look at time. When was the video first shared on Showyou or uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo? When did you last check your Showyou feed? With that, we try to build a feed for you that shows you the best stuff, whether you last used Showyou three hours ago, or three days ago.

The net result is that we deliver a feed with videos picked just for you by people you know and follow, on Showyou and other social networks.  A feed that works for you, rather than making you work for it, by showing you the best videos, not just the most recent ones.

It ain’t perfect yet — these things are always complex, and improving and perfecting this will be a central challenge for us in the months and years to come.

But we think we’ve laid a solid foundation for that future work with this effort, and that we’ve done something unique and ground-breaking. A new way to harness human intelligence and taste to help you find something great to watch.

To make all this work, it’s important to note that we’re the lucky beneficiary of two important developments — open source software and cheaper, much more sophisticated hardware. Specifically, the combination of fifteen years of work on and improvements to Postgres and the power and economics of SSDs.

With that, small startups like ours, not just billion dollar corporations, can do more ambitious things. We’ll blog about that in more detail later.


Millions and Billions

Fifty-five million: that’s how many videos are now in the Showyou search index.

As we’ve noted before, they’re all hand-picked. Each and every one of these videos is in our index because someone who uses Showyou, or one of their friends, shared it. In fact, we have well over 1 billion social “signals” around those 55 million videos.

The core belief that underlies everything we do is this: that the best way to find videos is through people. Your friends, people you know and trust, people whose tastes and interests you share.

The power of all this social signal is incredibly clear when you search for videos on Showyou. We’ve boasted about the power of Showyou search before, here and here. And we’ll continue to boast about it.

But, don’t take our word for it. Try search for some videos with Showyou on your iPhone, iPad or on the web. Compare our results with those from the leading video site(s) and search engines.  You might be surprised.


New Channels on Showyou

In addition to helping you to find great videos shared by people you know, Showyou is an awesome way to browse videos from some of the top video channels on the web.

On the iPad, iPhone, or iPodTouch, just tap the tray button to browse by channel. Follow the channels you love to add their videos to your Showyou grid (on the iPad and web) or your Showyou feed (on the iPhone and iPod Touch).

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve added some great new channels for you to follow including:

A must for gamers. Great game trailers, video reviews and walkthroughs, and the channel you need when you want to learn what it takes to get to the next level in your favorite games.

The best celebrity comedy videos in the realm.  Original and exclusive programming that will make you laugh and compel you to share.

Hilarious videos, handpicked videos picked by the editors of Break, the leading humor hub.

One of the top sports sites on the web, the Bleacher Report channel will keep you up-to-date on the day’s top sports news.

The home of seriously extreme sports endeavors. With the Red Bull channel you can tune into mind-blowing videos that involve surfing, racing, skating, skiing, snowboarding, wing suit flying, mountain biking and other insane adventures.

The source of some of the most viral videos known to humankind, Daily Motion spans the globe presence and offers up a deep catalog of engaging videos.

AskMen is the leading men’s lifestyle destination. It’s a channel for dudes, with a single focus and simple mission: Helping guys become better Men.

They join dozens of other great channels you can follow on Showyou: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Verge, TED, GigaOm and more. Head to the tray to browse them all, and to follow your favorites.