Color for Facebook iPhone app hands-on

Color failed to live up to the massive level of hype that surrounded its launch, as CEO and Lala-cofounder Bill Nguyen will be the first to tell you. So, naturally, the company went into hiding, only to relaunch as something different entirely. The fruits of that hibernation are finally starting to surface, in the form of Color for Facebook, which is now in closed beta. As its title suggests, the app is heavily reliant on Zuckerberg's social network, playing on the site's "like" feature with a gesture of its own: the "visit." As the company puts it, "the status update needs an update."

The visit is a short video clip. You broadcast a 30-second, soundless live stream from your phone that your Facebook friends watch, like and comment on. This isn't UStream here, of course: it's just a way of sharing a small slice of your daily life -- something interesting or even mundane, a way to connect with friends when a pithy status update or blurrycam still won't cut it. At least, that's Color's elevator pitch this go' round. We managed to get a sneak peek at the app, and while we're still playing with it, we do have some early impressions. So is the second time the charm for Color? Meet us past the break to find out.%Gallery-140867%

When you first download the app, you'll be prompted to sign in via Facebook and add friends you'd like to bring on-board. The app itself looks great -- Color clearly put a lot of thought into the UI, and its experience from the first iteration certainly helps. The app defaults to a feed page, offering up images and visits from your friends. The images take up the full width of the screen, overlayed with transparent captions. Visits, meanwhile, feature four screen shots from the video you've taken. Clicking on the image will fire up the archived visit.

The timeline view gives you your own personal history of images and visits, dating back several years -- a personal social networking time capsule of sorts. Meanwhile, the friends tab offers -- you guessed it -- a searchable list of your Facebook pals. Clicking on them gives you access to their timeline -- you can also invite them to use the service from their page. The app also has its own inbox for keeping track of events, likes, comments and visits pertaining to your Color activities.

Firing up a visit is as simple as hitting the camera icon on the homescreen. The app will throw up a warm up "About to Host" page, made up of Windows Phone-esque spinning titles of your recent Facebook photos. Once it's started, you've got 30 seconds to broadcast your life -- though you can back out at any time by hitting "done." In the bottom left hand corner, Color shows you who's watching the session. In the right is a thumbs up icon for liking the video. A small countdown clock on the top lets you know how much time is left in the session. When a friend starts a visit, Color gets your attention in a number of ways, sending an update on Facebook and pushing an alert on your iPhone, which you can choose to ignore or visit.

The video quality isn't great, unfortunately. It's blocky and choppy, and things don't really get better when you watch an archived video. There's also no sound, which is a bit of a bummer -- Color says its' still assessing whether it will add that functionality in a future upgrade. This being a closed beta, the company has promised all sorts of new features down the road.

At the moment, Color is an intriguing proposition. We can't really see it becoming a daily feature of our own social networking lives, but heck, people said that about the "like" button. Still, there's something to the concept -- that notion of catching small glimpses into the lives of far away friends (the real ones, anyway).