Vine arrives on Android, gets Rickrolled

4 Jun 2013

Twitter’s six-second video app Vine has come to Android users five months after its release on iOS, and a teenage web developer has already used a classic internet meme to exploit a flaw in the new app’s code.

Vine, the app that lets users record and edit up to six seconds of video to play back in a loop and share online, arrived on Google Play yesterday for Android version 4.0 and higher.

The Android version gives non-iPhone users a chance to share short, looped video clips and, just for Android users, the app also has a zoom feature. However, features iOS users have such as search, Facebook integration and front-facing camera support are not yet available from the Android version.

But, despite its flaws, many Android users have jumped at the opportunity to play with the new video app – and one of them very nearly broke it.

Teenage coder Will Smidlein tweeted, “I think I broke Vine,” yesterday afternoon when he managed to post a video to Vine that somehow sidestepped the app’s six-second rule. The three-and-a-half-minute video uploaded and looped by Smidlein was none other than Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.

Astley’s 1987 track has long been a bait-and-switch-type meme, coining the term ‘Rickrolling’ and undoubtedly contributing to a significant share of the music video’s near-64m YouTube views.

The 16-year-old from Ohio says he was contacted directly by a friend of a friend who is a Twitter engineer who asked him to remove the post after it had gone viral. Smidlein has been apologetic to the engineers he has embarrassed since, writing in a blog post, “I appreciate all the support, but I also ask that you think of the dude who forgot a final check on his codebase before uploading, because I’ve been that guy. It sucks to have the whole internet laughing at your mistake, and I hate that I’ve done that.”

According to The Verge, Smidlein, who has experience developing on the Android platform, decompiled the app and then recreated portions of the Vine API. Further details on how he managed to post the video to the app’s servers have not been revealed and Smidlein has vowed never to give them up until the flaw in the app’s coding is fixed.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.