In another effort to become more “social,” Google has just launched, to the American public, a new photo sharing service for the iPhone. It’s called Photovine and from what we’re seeing, it has quite some potential.

Photovine  is available for free (only in the US for now), the app will strike you with its great looks, which is highly unusual for Google. The level of polish that went into making it is on par with Instagram or Verbs, and it’s a very pleasant surprise. The concept, too, is particularly interesting. In a nutshell, Photovine takes the idea of shooting and sharing pictures one step further with something it calls “vines,” which are collections of pictures around a caption.

My First "Vine"

Lets say I find my office particularly nice today, I can start a vine called My Mobile Office with a picture of it. I actually just did. If you’re following me (xonder), you can not only see it, but also “join the vine” by posting your own picture of your office. It’s very much like trending Twitter hashtags. Here is the concept on video:

While Photovine does feature everything you would expect from a social network, with friend finding and sharing features on Twitter and other networks, it’s still very much open. Just like in Instagram, you see popular pictures, or vines. You can also chat with your followers, setup a profile, add captions and texts to your pictures, and much more. You’ll also notice that for some strange reason, the app is virtually separated from Google. You won’t see any mentions of the parent company in there, and you’ll have to create a new account to use it, which won’t be linked to your Gmail. Not to mention how strange it is that Google is pushing this on iOS rather than Android and how it competes with Google +.

Either way, we’ve been playing around with Photovine all morning here, and while there aren’t enough users yet to fully appreciate how useful the network really is, we’re really enjoying it. The concept is original, and the app looks great. The only challenge will be getting enough users to make it work. With Instagram pretty much ruling this space at the moment, this might be quite a challenge.

Photovine is available for free on the App Store. Check it out, and tell us what you think!