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Circuit Breaker

Wuu is a confusing Snapchat alternative from the creator of Ello

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Wuu are you?

Remember Ello? It was a social network that had a brief moment in the sun back in 2014 as a friendly alternative to Facebook. Founded by Paul Budnitz, it was built around the ideals of increased privacy and no ads. While Ello had noble ambitions, it ultimately failed due to a combination of a strange user interface, bugginess, a lack of features, and no concrete plan to actually fund the site.

Today, Budnitz is back with a new app: Wuu. It’s an attempt to take on Snapchat much like Ello tried to with Facebook, as reported by Wired. It’s essentially what you’d get if you took the ability to send individual Snaps out of Snapchat and spun it off into a whole app. Users can send quick pictures, videos, and audio clips, and caption them with text, or throw a filter on top. Wuu has a whole bunch of filters, many of which are pretty great. Unlike Snapchat, though, pictures or images don’t immediately delete, but remain in your feed for 24 hours, after which they automatically disappear.

And that’s pretty much it. My colleague Dami and I spent the morning trying out the app, quickly filling the other’s feed with wacky filtered images and confused text messages. But Wuu’s interface is incredibly vague, putting even Snapchat to shame. Instead of any clear labels, you’re presented with a row featuring a square, a circle, and a triangle at the bottom of the main feed. Through trial and error, square lets you send a text post, circle a picture or video, and triangle an audio message, but there’s no clear way to figure that out. It took me almost an hour to figure out how to change the color of text (swipe right and left on the screen while the typing interface is active), and if there’s a way to zoom in with the camera or adjust text label sizes, I haven’t found it yet. The app is also fairly buggy — both Dami and I experienced crashes in our brief time with Wuu, and at one point it froze my entire iPhone.

Weird UI aside, and much like Ello before it, there are a lot of questions about Wuu that haven’t really been answered. Right now, Wuu is invite-only, so you’ll need to get lucky with an online sign-up or find a friend who uses the app to even get in the door. There are no ads, so it’s also unclear how Wuu will make money. And while the point of Wuu may be that there’s intentionally no public-facing place to share things like on Snapchat, it’s still a tough sell when there’s essentially nothing in it that Snapchat can’t do (not to mention, there are plenty of things that the far more popular Snapchat can do that Wuu can’t).

That said, once you get past the funky interface and unanswered questions, there is something sort of appealing about what amounts to a private, temporary Instagram feed only populated by things your friends specifically to you. But based on the current state of Wuu, I’m skeptical if it will ever reach that potential.

Wuu is available on iOS now (if you have an invite code), with an Android version planned for later this spring.