Siblings, video messaging and never getting the best room

Siblings, video messaging and never getting the best room

By Coren Feldman, Product Manager


My sister is 7 years older than me. By the time I was old enough to have anything resembling an intelligent conversation with her, she was out of the house and off having adventures. She would stop by to hang out occasionally, even take me out for my birthday to watch movies, but our time at home didn’t overlap much. We got along great, but I just didn’t see her as much as I saw my other siblings, who left home at a more leisurely pace (my oldest brother moved out a week before me, finally vacating the best room in the house for which I had been waiting years to claim as my own, but never got the chance to live in. Thanks.).

Fast forward to April 2013. I’d been working at Glide for a few months and we had just released our first publicly available version. Naturally, I made everyone I know download it, including my sister.

At this point, she was living in Hawaii (because she’s just cool like that) and we weren’t in very close contact, despite the many possible means to do so (e.g. email, Facebook, etc.).

It’s five minutes past midnight and naturally I’m wide awake and on my computer. I get a notification: “Maya just joined Glide, say hello!” and immediately I pounce. It’s her birthday, coincidentally, so the first thing I do is congratulate her.

We have a few back-and-forth videos about Glide because she’s using it for the first time and then, because it’s gorgeous and sunny and Hawaii, she’s heading out to the beach in the car with her boyfriend and a friend. She turns the camera to them so they can tell me how much of a great time they’re having while I’m sitting in my room in my run-down Jerusalem apartment at midnight.

And suddenly we were talking. A lot. Several times a week. Comparing offices, meeting each other’s friends, giving tours of our apartments…

Had this been a text-based conversation, none of that would have happened. After updating each other on our lives, we would run out of things to talk about.

Having a video-centric messenger is so impactful to the interaction you have with the people you’re talking to. There’s a world of difference between reading the four letters that comprise the response “haha” and seeing your sister laugh at your dumb joke. It’s as though you aren’t thousands of miles apart.

I think there are two reasons Glide was able to get my sister and I to really talk for the first time in a while:

The first is speed. If we had needed to wait until a video was done recording before being able to watch it, the conversation would’ve taken a very long time and we would be constantly putting our phones down in between messages, making the whole thing take a backseat to watching YouTube videos or browsing Reddit.

However, since Glide sends messages live, my sister was watching my videos as I was recording them, so the second I finished, she could start responding immediately. In turn, I could watch her responses live as well. Of course, given the time difference (13 hours!), we were not always able to send each other messages while we were both online. But, like texting, if you’re not available when someone sends you a message, you can always watch and respond to it later.

The second reason is what we call “Inline Viewfinder” internally, which is the video preview waiting for you at the bottom of the chat. I would watch a video my sister sent and then the thread would scroll down automatically and reveal me looking at the screen and a big blue button just waiting to be pressed. People often get too lazy to be on camera so they just text instead, which is why, in most messengers, if you send a video, you’ll get a text response.

On Glide, it just feels effortless. You’re already there, you see yourself, and you know that with one tap the person on the other side of the conversation will see you too. Mashing your thumbs on the screen suddenly seems a lot less appealing.

At the risk of sounding hokey, I’m really grateful that I had a way to keep in touch with my sister while she was far away, to share experiences, to feel close to each other and, most importantly, that three years later, I can rewatch the whole thing again and again.