Rabbit – Watch Together is available in Android app form and lets people remotely watch TV shows, movies, and just about anything else together. Today, the company behind the app has announced a number of new features that will improve the shared experience, as well as the individual experience in general. The update is rolling out to the Android app now through the Google Play Store (as well as en route to the iOS app) and will likely already be live for a number of users. It's expected the web version of the service will receive similar a update in due course although the company has not specified when.
One of the main improvements to the app at the feature level is actually one which might sound counter-intuitive to the purpose of the app – asynchronous. In short, users no longer have to watch content when their friends do, and instead can opt to catch-up on the same shows or movies in their own time. In addition, groups are becoming more feature-rich overall, with a greater emphasis on prolonged conversations, notifications are now in use to let users know when their friends are online (and what they're watching so you can join in), and there's now the ability to add more shows to a group in the first place. This is addition to a number of general app design improvements that are included with the latest version of the app, such as better navigation for quicker access to groups, the ability to search for content across multiple streaming services at the same time, as well as more color and athletic changes to add a fresh look and feel to the app.
Background: For those new to the service, Rabbit is sort of like a social media service in the sense that it lets you connect with family and friends, new and old, locally and internationally-based, and so on. However, it's different to traditional social media services in the sense that it does not only look to connect but also provide more of an immersive experience that's also central to the app's unique selling point – video. For example, while you can chat with friends and families about the shows and movies you are all watching, one of the original purposes of the app was to assist in the watching experience in general. As users can agree on a time and the app helps to physically synchronize the viewing experience with zero delay and to the point where it emulates a 'living room' scenario where everyone is in the one room, watching the one TV. Just like in an actual living room setting, while the group are watching the same synchronous feed, they can continue to chat and engage with others about the show. Though unlike a living room the app also provides the option for more modern and typical social media features such as image and GIF support. Emulating the living room is more than just the ethos behind the service with the company looking to bring the experience more in line with the modern era by accounting for different devices, different platforms and even the fact that people are located in different places, including different countries. The idea being, the living room is now a virtual living room instead of a physical one.
And according to the company, it's a service that seems to be doing pretty well for itself and resonating well with users leading to decent levels of expansion over the last few years. For example, along with announcing the new features, Rabbit also confirmed the service now has 3.6 million monthly active users who on average spend roughly 12.5 hours per month watching content with other people. And that's just the average user with the company stating heavy users spend up to 28 hours each month consuming content with friends and family. Figures the company uses to argue its service now enjoys higher rates of monthly usage than the world's most popular social media and streaming sites, including the likes of Facebook and Netflix. What's more, and in spite of the traditional living room being somewhat of a dated concept today, it would seem Rabbit's virtual living room is appealing more to younger users than many might expect considering the company claims the majority of its user base is aged under 30.
Impact: This is a fairly big update for the service and one that is in part designed to highlight the growth Rabbit is now experiencing. This is most evident in the asynchronous aspect, as while the service is primarily used for real-time group viewing, the ability to watch content that others in a group have already seen, at a later time is symptomatic of the rise of the social media element of the app. A point that's even further highlighted through the improvements to the features especially associated with the creation and use of 'groups' in Rabbit. As users will now not only be able to engage with more groups than ever before (you can literally set up and be a part of as many different groups as you like at the same time), but building on the social and the asynchronous elements multiple shows can now be supported in a single group at the same time.
The latter of which is a prime example of how far the app has now come compared to where it first started off, as not only can you now watch a show at a later time compared to the rest of your group, but in theory everyone in the group can now be watching a different show at the same time. In a strange turn of events, and in spite of seemingly flying in the face of the romanticized version of the living room experience the service originally wanted us all to recapture, this idea of all of us together in the same room, but watching different shows at the same time, is probably far more representative of an actual average living room in 2018 than the company might have initially intended.