Twitter poured salt on the gaping wound that is 2016 last week when it announced it was shutting down Vine, the beloved app, first introduced in January 2013, that let smartphone users create and share delightful six-second videos. A fun, quirky culture developed on the platform, leading to all sorts of Vines that made us laugh, love, and appreciate the fact that not everything on the internet has to be a giant dumpster fire of nonsense.
And now, one app that launches today, wants to make it that much easier to permanently save these Vines before they're inevitably wiped from the internet for good.
Called Lifeprint, it's a free iOS app (an Android version should be ready by early 2017) that connects via Bluetooth to a small, $130 thermal imaging printer that will be sold in Apple retail stores as well as Lifeprint's website. Once set up, which is no more difficult than connecting your iPhone to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, you can then sync the app to your various social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and the soon to be departed Vine.
You can then print static images of your Vines (or Instagram photos/videos, etc.) on small pieces of paper that are about the size of a business card. There's no ink to buy (though you do have to buy compatible paper, which starts at $20 for a pack of 30); the printer technology is essentially an evolution of what Nintendo used with the GameBoy Printer in the late 1990s.
This is when things get interesting.
By holding your iPhone up to the static image you just printed out, the Vine will then play inside the app. You read that correctly: Lifeprint is able to take a Vine, encode the entire six-second video into a static image, and then play back the video on your iPhone. This animated GIF—you can see the printed image below my iPhone—shows a Vine of Motherboard's unofficial corgi Winston as brought to life with Lifeprint.
Twitter has not said exactly when it plans to shut down Vine, nor has it said what exactly will happen to the individual Vines currently stored on the company's servers. While there's already a few apps floating around out there than can save them digitally (you can also just view the source of a Vine on the web to save them to your computer), being able to print them out almost certainly helps with the grieving process.