Photo-editing app VSCO Cam has gained millions of users thanks to its tasteful filters and effects. Its influence can even be seen in how Instagram has developed its new editing tools and filters over the past year or so. But VSCO as a company is much more than just VSCO Cam — in the past two years, it's built a community, launched publishing tools, and funded various artist initiatives.
Today it's releasing its first new app since VSCO Cam for Android in 2013: a GIF creation app called DSCO. The new app, which is available for the iPhone today, lets you create short GIF animations (up to 2.5 seconds long), add a basic filter, and then share it to your VSCO account. (It can then be shared to other social networks, and DSCO will save both a GIF and MP4 video to your camera roll for each shot for later sharing.) DSCO's interface is very sparse, and many of its interactions are undeniably Snapchat-like in their simplicity, and it's not dissimilar to Instagram's just-launched Boomerang GIF app.
VSCO CEO Joel Flory says that the creation of DSCO was driven by demands made by VSCO's community, who wanted more creative tools than just still photos. (Co-founder Greg Lutze insists that the DSCO name doesn't stand for anything in particular, it just fit the feeling of the app as it was developed.) Flory notes that while testing the app internally, DSCO quickly became the most widely used feature in the company.
DSCO is launching with five presets for tuning a GIF after its shot, with more planned for later release. Flory says that the company will offer different promotional presets after the app's launch, including an MTV one that will only be available to use for a single week. In any case, the number of editing tools available in DSCO is far lower than what the proper app offers for still images, making DSCO a bit more approachable for casual users.
Though many of the features of DSCO feel very similar to features found in Snapchat, the app's output is notably different. Instead of images or video that disappear after a short while, each DSCO GIF is instantly published to a user's VSCO account after it's created, where it will remain indefinitely unless the user deletes it. The whole process is designed to be as streamlined as possible and to make it easier to share things without thinking too much about the process itself. That's distinctly different from how many photographers use VSCO Cam, which encourages a slowed-down, methodical approach to creating, editing, and then sharing a specific image. (It's also probably closer to how Snapchat is used than VSCO would like to admit.)
Many of DSCO's features feel similar to Snapchat
DSCO is an iOS exclusive for now, and Flory wouldn't commit to an Android version of the app anytime soon. For now, Flory says VSCO is focusing its efforts on bringing its VSCO Cam app for Android to parity with the iOS version before bringing new features to Google's platform. Still, there are a lot of users of VSCO Cam for Android (Flory says the split is about 55/45 iOS to Android), so it wouldn't be a surprise if DSCO did eventually come to Android.
For now, DSCO is the first look at a world outside of VSCO Cam, which recently rebranded to just VSCO. The overarching goal is to get users to share more things to their VSCO accounts, whether that's a single image, a moving GIF, or a longer form story. With DSCO, GIFs are now part of the VSCO world.