Vero Review | PCMag
Before they became inescapable digital prisons, warped corporate reflections of our hellish reality, social media was just a cool way to share things and hang out with friends online. Despite its decidedly modern appearance, the Vero social media app feels like a throwback to those simpler times, and only the better for it. We doubt it’ll ever be as big or relevant as the services it most directly resembles, but Vero elevates indie artists in exciting ways that other apps should emulate.
First steps with Vero
Previously, Vero was only available on Android and iOS mobile devices, but now you can download the app for Windows and Mac as well. It’s free to create an account. Vero says that might not always be the case, but getting a free account now locks you in as a lifetime founding member who never pays a subscription fee.
Once you’ve created a biography and verified your account with your phone number, Vero can search your contacts to find and add friends who are already using the service. Beyond that option, however, Vero feels refreshing and unintrusive when it comes to social media. It is independent and does not use your data to create algorithms pushing you towards advertisements. As part of a mission to be “true social”, it has no ads at all.
Other social networks also push for this level of freedom from oppressive overlords, but they tend to be somewhat heavyweight open source projects like Mastodon. What you give up in initial convenience, you gain in security. However, Vero offers some of these benefits in a much more mainstream and user-friendly app package.
Socialize with Vero
If Instagram is YouTube, then Vero is Vimeo. Both emphasize visuals, with posts dominated by large, attractive images. But Vero feels classier, more intimate and professional. Even the interface, a cool mix of blacks and blues, manages to pack in plenty of content and navigation shortcuts without ever feeling cluttered. The video quality itself also seems high, although that may be down to the users Vero attracts rather than the technology itself.
On Vero, socializing revolves around the art, whether it’s the creators who make it or the creations themselves. The search page highlights featured photographers. Popular hashtags include #cosplay and #illustration. When you create a post, Vero prompts you to connect that post to something else, like an uploaded photo or a link to a personal site. You can also make your post a recommendation for media like an album, movie, book, or video game from Vero’s extensive database. I posted about the Elden Ring game on my Steam Deck, and how much I enjoyed reading the YA novel Don’t hate the player by Alexis Nedd of Mashable(Opens in a new window).
I really enjoyed this system. It feels more focused than other social networks, which just give you a blank slate to throw some formless hot takes. By anchoring your post to an app you love or a place you’ve visited, Vero sparks the imagination in yourself and hopefully other users who see your posts. They are natural conversation starters and you can leave comments on posts (as well as like them). It reminds me of Blacktag, but it leverages existing entertainment instead of trying to build an entire community from scratch. No social space will be free of bad actors, but on Vero, I felt a lot less worried about stumbling across a paranoid conspiracy theory.
The rare, the proud
Vero covers a wide variety of interests. That said, if you’re not interested in creating or consuming the art featured, the app loses much of its appeal. Non-creators can’t access all features, such as selling items in the digital marketplace. You will still have the typical social media features. Send messages to your friends or even video call them. But then you might as well go back to Facebook or Twitter and put up with all that nonsense in exchange for a larger community.
When it comes to social media, Vero’s health outlook isn’t as dire as forgotten contenders like Ello or Peach, but the community isn’t huge. Vero currently has at least five million users according to the sources I researched. Madonna has 55,000 subscribers. Zack Snyder, one of Vero’s most prominent members, only has about 400,000 followers (he has 1.3 million followers on Twitter). This is important because, just like dating apps, the strength of a social network comes from its community, not just from the app itself. Luckily, the users who are here seem pretty engaged. Although I haven’t had enough time to attract a large audience for my own posts, popular posts have a lot of discussions, hundreds of comments and thousands of likes.
Hold for a Vero
If we have to spend so much time online, we might as well spend it in the digital spaces we enjoy. From appreciating artistic photos to listening to emerging musicians to sharing a love of video games, Vero is a pleasant space to call home. While other social networks seek quantity, Vero advocates quality.
Vero is an engaging and independent social media app that makes art and entertainment shine.
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