App of the Week: Kong

Title:  Kong
Cost:  Free
Platform:  iOS and Android

Kong iconWhen stories about Kong, a social media app devoted to selfie GIFs, started popping up in my news feed, I had some questions. Mostly of the “why?” and “really?” variety. I couldn’t see how a network of moving selfies could possibly be interesting or worthwhile. But I’m here to tell you I was wrong. This thing is super fun.

Set up an account and you’re introduced to the app through your home page, which starts as a grid of brightly colored boxes that are empty except for the top left square — a live feed from your front-facing camera (the only camera Kong allows you to use at this time.) The other boxes will eventually fill up with the feeds of friends you add through your phone’s contact lists or by following other users.

Kong

When you click the search box at the top of the screen, you’re taken to the channels page, where you can search by hashtag for channels of interest or click on the featured channels listed below, such as #coffee, #highfive, #doubletake, or whichever channel is feeling the love at the moment.

Once you find a channel that you like, swipe left or right on your live feed (still at the top left of the screen) to access filters and special effects, or double tap your feed to add words, then shoot a short video of yourself by pressing and holding the shutter button at the bottom of the screen.  Tapping the arrow button adds your GIF to the channel and opens a box of saving and sharing options, of which there are plenty. The result is a collection of GIFs on a single topic, with a fun, Brady-Bunch-Opening-Credits sort of feel.

Kong’s appeal is due in large part to some smart choices made by the developers, including the decision to allow only one GIF per person, per channel — if you post another GIF to the same channel, your original post disappears. This keeps the channels fresh and free of spammers. They also made it easy to create your own channels, both public and private, by simply creating a hashtag no one else is using.

It may seem like a selfie social media app wouldn’t necessarily lend itself to Library programs or services, but 15 minutes after introducing it to my Teen Advisory Board they were already devising ways to incorporate it into our After-Hours Party scavenger hunt and brainstorming ways we could use it with our book club. Thus definitively answering my initial, knee-jerk questions of “why?” (Because it’s quick, original, fun, and surprisingly useful) and “really?” (YES!)

About Jen Scott Wills

Jen is the Teen Services Librarian for Boise Public Library's Main Library. Follow her on Twitter @jen1n to read more of her musings on libraries, YA lit, and all things geeky and glorious.
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