Byte Vs. TikTok

A new app Byte is reminiscent of Vine. (Courtesy of Facebook)

A new app Byte is reminiscent of Vine. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Many people were sorry to see Vine, the popular six-second loop app, shut down on Jan. 16, 2017. Vital in forming a new generation of internet humor, its tremors are still felt today. Fear not, though, because Vine 2.0 has launched. A new app, called Byte, has the same concept and creators as Vine, but with a different vibe. It is full of bright colors, moving graphics and bumping music.

So far, a few former Vine stars like Chris Melberger, Joshdarnit and Lance Stewart have joined the app. Yet, there doesn’t appear to be much buzz around the new platform.

Upon first look, it appears that Byte is succeeding. On Apple’s App Store, Byte has a four-and-a-half out of five star rating based on 26,000 reviews. It is currently rated number one on the Social Networking app charts.

That said, it’s difficult to compare Byte to its competitors. Snapchat and Instagram are on the Photo & Video charts and Twitter is on the News charts. This means that Byte is competing on a chart that includes Hoop, Pinterest and YOLO. These are not apps we would typically associate with social media.

At the moment, nostalgia is working in Byte’s favor, but it can’t hold on to that forever. The concept is the same as the original Vine, which failed against competitors. How, then, will it be able to succeed against those same sites as well as new ones? It is impossible to discuss Byte without mentioning TikTok.

In many ways, TikTok replaced Vine. The app allows users to share videos between 15 seconds and one minute, with background music or sounds to which users dance or lip sync. Additionally, users can apply special effects, like face morphing, to videos.

TikTok’s base is in China and, with its increasing popularity, a host of concerns have sprung up around national security. TikTok has denied all allegations of espionage, but the United States government is still investigating the app.

Another issue people have with TikTok is its dependence on artificial intelligence (AI). Using AI technology, TikTok can figure out exactly what the user wants to see based on likes, comments and time spent on a video. Based on what the user appears to enjoy, AI can determine the user’s age, location, socioeconomic status and more. This allows the app to push more desired content. However, since the app pushes such specific content to each user, it’s addictive and invasive.

Byte, in contrast, flaunts its origins in the United States and emphasizes privacy.

“Explore what’s loved by the community, handpicked by our human editors, or just served up at random,” its description reads.
Despite this, TikTok’s algorithm may be too strong for Byte. The algorithm not only makes TikTok enticing to watch, it also convinces watchers to become video makers themselves. This provides the app with an infinite amount of free content.

When a person posts a video on TikTok, it goes to a random group of users. If they like the video or watch the whole thing, the algorithm sends it to an even larger group of people. This cycle continues until the video goes viral. Since this same algorithm affects every video, anyone can become TikTok famous.

I tested Byte’s algorithm and compared it to TikTok. I downloaded both apps and scrolled through them for 10 minutes each. At the end of the 10 minutes, TikTok was pushing me videos about college girls living in New York. Byte, though, was still pushing generic videos and often repeating the same video every few minutes, even if I didn’t like or comment on it.

Byte may stay popular for a while as people reminisce about all the funny content from the original Vine, but TikTok will stay ahead as the leading video sharing app. At the end of the day, TikTok’s flawless algorithm will keep people hooked.

Byte will never be able to compete with TikTok because human intelligence will never be able to generate the same addictive quality as AI.