Glide: User friendly app that is changing the way we communicate

glide demonstrated on smartphone

BDA Digital Engagement Coordinator, Lyndon Borrow, explains how the new must-have video messaging app, Glide, is revolutionising communication among the Deaf community.

In the last few years we have seen significant changes in communication technology in terms of text and video messaging. From the early days of ICQ and mobile SMS to MSN Messenger, fast forward to Facebook Messages and video, iMessage, WhatsApp and more popping up all the time.

The latest hot product was released in May 2013, designed by a trio of Israeli-based entrepreneurs who set out to create a product that would revolutionise texting. It’s called Glide.

The world’s first live video messaging app quickly rose up the rankings with users sending over 15 million seconds of video messages daily.

Although not targeted at the Deaf community, it has become particularly popular in that large user demographic. Glide’s video-messaging app was overtly designed for the mainstream hearing user, but ended up being an incredibly useful “niche” tool for the Deaf community.

sarah glideTo add extra icing on top of the cake, one of the Glide’s founding staff, 22-year-old Sarah Snow, Glide’s Community Manager from Israel, became an international online celebrity and quickly rose to become a recognisable face to the Deaf Community from her relentless efforts to advocate for Deaf people’s rights to a more accessible user experience.

“We first started noticing enthusiastic reviews from the deaf and hard of hearing community in the app stores,” said Snow. “Then, we saw comments on our YouTube videos letting us know that they loved the app, but couldn’t understand our ‘hearing’ videos.”

Deaf Culture wasn’t written into her original job description – and prior to this role, she had not had opportunities to interact with anyone from the Deaf or Hard of Hearing community.

“To better communicate with our users from the deaf and hard of hearing community, I decided to take ASL (American Sign Language) lessons with a teacher locally who had studied at CSUN. And I made my videos together with an interpreter who studied at Gallaudet,” said Snow, who goes by the alias “Sarah Glide”. Sarah has been visiting several Deaf schools, Deaf universities and the Deaf communities across the United States – raising the profile.

Before Glide, the majority of the Deaf community had been using the WhatsApp video app which has worked well for many up to now. One of the few drawbacks of WhatsApp is that the video is stored on your smartphone and needs to be managed otherwise it’ll consume all of your smartphone’s storage space.

WhatsApp restricts the size of existing videos to 16Mb (around 90 seconds). If you want to make a new video, it’s limited to 90 seconds. WhatsApp’s focus is mainly on text, with short videos and images. To do a video you press a small icon for the camera to do so. It defaults to the back camera so you’ll then need to switch it to the front camera. However, you do take the video first and then upload later so the videos are always smooth.

The clever thing about Glide is that it doesn’t consume your smartphone memory and instead leaves it clutter free. Videos are stored “in the cloud” – on Glide’s servers – eliminating the need to constantly delete older messages.

Their video recordings are limited to 5 minutes which is quite a lot and the focus is on videos not text. The bandwidth comparison with other video messaging apps (which average 15 seconds) is favourable: A 5-minute Glide message averages 5-10MBps, whereas a competing app’s 15-second HD video message will have already taken up 15MBps. The average Glide user sends 10 messages daily, benefiting greatly from the bandwidth efficiency.

As for how Glide treat a chat in video. If you go into a chat with videos, the first video automatically start playing. As you finish watching this video, it automatically slides to the next video in the chat and starts playing. You don’t do anything. When you start a chat – there is a large record button at bottom. Press it and that’s it, you’re now recording, and it uses the front camera first by default. You can choose when to check out your friend’s messages whereas Skype or FaceTime requires both of you to be present. It is very simple to use and because the focus is on videos, this is perfect for BSL.

If you haven’t got your Glide app yet – download one now and check it out. It is very easy to set-up and there are clever ways of finding your friends who also use Glide and invite them in to join you.

Technology and gadgets rock!

Watch Sarah Glide using ASL – American Sign Language: 

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