In the age of Snapchat and selfies, nothing conveys an appropriate reaction like one's own face. That's the premise behind group messaging app Gather, launched today for iOS. Gather lets users send what they'd normally send to friends or family—screenshots, GIFs, YouTube videos—and receive a brief circular, live-action video reaction right back. The video is tiny enough (about the size of your thumb print) that there's no need to overthink angles, yet it still captures emotion, humor and personality—and delivers it with ease to one individual, many individuals or all of your Gather contacts. And, of course, there are filters. Set up is simple, the interface is direct and videos can even be sent to other social media platforms.
As for what a video conveys beyond text or emoji, Gather's co-founder (and MIT Media Lab alum) Aaron Zinman explains, "When you watch someone, all the nuance of tone, emotion, gestures and personality become apparent. Seeing them smile makes you smile. Emoji and SMS limit human expression, and if that becomes the dominant means of communication then our shared thoughts become reductionist. We think that’s bad for society." And while there are times when a GIF or smiley face does suffice, nothing quite touches the heights of a real human reaction.