I Think Glass Should Add Likes

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

Last month I started using Glass, a photo sharing app for the iPhone that was aimed squarely at those of us who miss the glory days of Instagram (you know, when they were less successful πŸ˜›). I made a whole video about it that you could watch to see how I felt then.

I still feel mostly the same as then, and it's still on my home screen as an app I launch several times a day to get a hit of cool photography. But there is one thing I think hasn't held up for me as much, and it's the lack of "likes" on photos. I said I liked it in my video, and this is what the founders say about them in an interview with Casey Newton:

Counts aren't anywhere in the app. That is another intentional choice to help you focus on the community and the photography itself β€” not amassing followers or like counts.

I get it, and I generally like this idea of encouraging conversation over passive likes, but so many comments I see are basically likes in disguise as comments. Here's a few from just the last couple photos in my feed right now:

The sentiment is great, but these aren't really conversation starters, they're people who want to express their appreciating for a photo. And I'm not above it either, I routinely post stuff like this too.

There are two main challenges that this no-likes solution brings, in my opinion.

Problem 1: Mental Weight

The problem to me is that leaving a comment is a task with friction built in. It takes more effort to comment than to drop a like, and that can be good, but it does make the app feel a little heavier mentally when I launch the app. I'll see some cool photos, sure, but if I want to show someone I appreciate their photos, I need to think of something to say. I'm relatively outgoing when it comes to internet communication, but I know many, many people are less likely to speak up and they're just not going to say anything at all.

Problem 2: Feedback Loops (or lack thereof)

Glass doesn't have follower counts, like counts (duh), or any analytics around how many people are viewing each photo. Again, I understand the desire for these things not being there, but as someone publishing photos, I often feel like I'm posting into the void. Do people like this photo but just didn't leave a comment? Did all my followers stop using the app and no one is seeing these? With zero information besides the social media extroverts who leave comments, I have no idea.

If they don't want to show like counts, I get that, but treat them like followers: show me a notification when someone likes a photo, but don't show me a total likes I've received. At least then I might see more of an indication that people liked what I posted and that I'm not posting into the void.

Maybe this is a terrible idea and I'm in the minority here, but I really do think that I would enjoy the app more if I was able to give lower-friction reactions to people's photos. I still like Glass quite a bit, and I browse it everyday, but I do often feel like I don't have the energy to comment on all the photos I like, and that's a shame.