The Carrot Blog

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Kong is the latest tool for people looking to express themselves online in fun new ways. Available for Android and iOS, the app lets people capture and share selfies as animated GIFs. It's the latest tool from Path, a development studio with a growing portfolio of mobile services.

The idea for Kong was born from a simple (and somewhat ridiculous) question: "what if we created an app with faces only?". Now, through an iterative design and development process, the concept is a reality. Users can capture, edit and annotate selfies while on-the-go. Not only that, they can share GIFs in private and public rooms, with themes ranging from #facepalm to #bradybunch. These foster a natural behavior the team observed: people imitate each other and start memes.

Features aside, there's one distinct constraint that defines Kong's use case. The app only presents the most recent selfie of any individual user. In other words, it's impossible for any one person to own and overwhelm the feed. The result, as one user describes, is the new “status update,” like what was experienced on AIM back in the day. This makes a lot of sense when considering that Kong will be coming to Apple Watch, a platform designed for a quick bite-sized content.

Kong is entering the wild wild west of photo and video production apps. Most similar are PHHHOTO, Camoji and Pop; all enable the creation of animated GIFs. It's still to be determined whether any of these will succeed in the long term but the behavior around them is what really matters. More than ever, people are turning to apps like Kong to express and entertain themselves. The New York Times recently called this borecore, or "the never-to-be-viral output that comes from mixing powerful devices and a lifetime of social-media training with regular, old teenage boredom." It can seem silly, but brands that find authentic and meaningful ways to take part are the ones that will win cultural relevance. And it starts with apps like Kong.