Yahoo Sports gets a fantastic looking redesign today for iOS 7, and gains a slick new feature called ‘Loops’. Loops allows you to skim through a game, pick a short segment and create a gif complete with effects, captions and looping to share with friends or networks.
The Loop feature is powered by Yahoo’s IntoNow tech and has one of the best interfaces I’ve ever seen for creating a gif on mobile. Right now it supports NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, as well as NCAA and NCAAB but may expand to more sports in the future. It’s also iPhone only right now, but other platforms are on the roadmap.
You drop into one of your favorite sports and scrub through a game or pick a play. Once you’ve picked a time, you’re dropped into a scannable timeline that lets you pick your moment. Then you can apply filters like freeze frame or slow motion, add a caption and export your gif to social networks and the Loop feed.
I’ve been playing with the editing tool and the Yahoo team working on the app has done a fantastic job. The tool is quick, simple and fun to use, and should result in an explosion of sports gifs.
I spoke with Josh Schwarzapel, Senior Product Manager, Mobile and Emerging Products about the new release and he says that this feature is all about letting fans be in control of the ‘highlight reel’, rather than a feed of clips provided by a network or broadcaster. The games are recorded from broadcast and presented for users in the app, but they can’t watch them through like a traditional video stream. I’m a bit hazy on the legality of this but it seems like the miniscule length (a couple of seconds) of the finished product gifs here should limit any liability on Yahoo’s part if a league takes offense. The network effect of users being able to create loops and share them out (there are landing pages and they’re embeddable) is a net positive for the sports involved, and should act as a good calling card for Yahoo Sports as well.
The clips are also presented in a new Loops stream within the app — essentially taking the place of a list of video clips in apps like ESPN. The stream is a condensed narrative with captions and effects of what fans consider to be the stand-out moments, and even the feed created by the team already shows promise. Every game has its moments, but instead of a couple of people crafting a few funny gifs on BuzzFeed, this puts the power to zip up tight little droplets of fun in every fan’s hands.
I’m a huge fan of the gif in general and create quite a few for my app reviews and such, but I’ve never seen a mobile tool that makes it quite this easy for users to pump out good looking material. There’s no accounting for humor, of course, so we’ll see how that pans out once this is out in the public’s hands, but I think this should be a neat addition to the Yahoo Sports app.
The app also got a nice refresh to support iOS 7′s visual language on both iPhone and iPad today, and that looks pretty solid overall. The stats pages and game summaries are presented well, easy to read and feature crisp images to go along with them. It should compare well against apps from other companies like ESPN, MLB and NFL.