An Orlando mobile app maker has created a unique photo- and video-sharing app that not only promises to streamline multimedia sharing but also could be beneficial for groups visiting Orlando’s theme parks.
The iOS app SnapShots allows multiple users at an event to share videos and photos with other SnapShots users in real time. App users can crowd-source both photos and videos; all the participants can take part in sharing and communicating with one another; and privacy settings can create events that are either public and searchable by other SnapShots users or private and available to just select invitation-only members.
The SnapShots app's so-called "events" can be anything, of course, from birthday parties to backyard pool gatherings, trade shows to training courses for employees.
Any setting in which a group of people gather can be created as an event, said Jonathan Dantes, CEO and founder of Orlando-based SnapShots LLC, adding that it is easy to envision how the app can be used by families or other groups of people who might want to create a "Walt Disney World" event or something similar at other local theme parks.
Photos and videos shared in the SnapShots environment still can be shared to more prevalent social-media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or even via e-mail, Dantes said, and hashtags can be used for events to make search functions easy. The app also utilizes real-time comments and push notifications.
Already, the app has been chosen by Apple as one of its iTunes featured app, showing just how promising it appears to tech-savvy social-media users.
In addition to creating a so-called event sharing space, SnapShots also provides an environment in which to organize related media from an activity, too, said Rainer Flor, chief technology officer and co-founder of SnapShots. Users won’t necessarily have to search their iPhone photo album for pictures from an event, for example, and then switch over to their YouTube app to find a particular supporting video file or a chat client to find a comment about the event.
Instead, for SnapShots users, anything related to the event will be stored within the single app environment for easy discovery and sharing instead of residing in the “multiple channels” of different apps, he said.
"The way we like to look at it," Flor said, "it certainly helps people organize their pictures and videos."
Flor, a 2005 University of Central Florida graduate , said the app was first conceptualized in 2011. It was launched this spring and already has close to 10,000 users.
SnapShots clearly is not the only photo- or image-sharing mobile app on the market. A host of similar features are offered by mobile apps such as SnapChat, Instagram and Hipstamatic’s Oggle. Even web-based services such as Flickr, Pinterest, Picassa and others offer some of the same media-sharing components being promoted by SnapShots.
Still the mobile media-sharing landscape is one that continues to be seen as a big money draw for advertising dollars and, therefore, continues to be picture-perfect for expansion. And for good reason, from the advertisers’ perspective.
After all, if every picture tells a story, then the one being told today is that photo- and video-sharing apps are hugely popular with smartphone users. Each user is, of course, a captive audience for each particular app used.
"We were already sharing photos and videos via MMS in the early 2000s, but today's smartphones really give the opportunity for apps to be 'smarter,' " Flor said. "What makes an app 'smarter' are not just the cool effects that you can add in a photo app, but services that can geo-track, recommend and connect on-demand. It's part of the secret sauce on what makes apps like Instagram, Vine - and hopefully SnapShots one day - so successful and popular. It's popular with advertiser as well because they've instantly got an engaged audience."
Consider some of the numbers with similar apps:
In a little more than 2 weeks after being introduced as an invite-only iOS app, Hipstamatic’s Oggle photo-sharing app accumulated more than 4 million users by the time it was opened to the public in the spring.
Another popular media-sharing app, Snapchat, was created in the fall of 2011. A little more than a year later, users had shared more than a billion images with the iOS app alone. (There’s also an Android version today.)
Of course, those kinds of numbers get the attention of the big players. Last week, Facebook Inc. made its first substantial move into the video-sharing market with the announcement of Video on Instagram. The company’s better-late-than-never venture put it in competition with Twitter and its hugely popular Vine video-sharing app.
Though Vine was created in the summer of 2012 and is the No. 1 download in the Apple app store, Facebook’s network of 1.1 billion users worldwide would seem to indicate – on the surface, at least – that it would have a distinct advantage as more advertisers chase users and try to expand into the mobile video market. But given the popularity of Twitter and the high adoption rate of Vine, that video-sharing app clearly isn’t going to wither anytime soon either.
Dantes says he sees a similar road ahead for SnapShots and is working with third-party interests to possibly form partnerships with the app for an expanded business model that will generate revenue in the future. He and Flor say future iterations of the app might include premium features for in-app purchases. These could include premium photo effects, frames or editing options; slideshow functions and music features also are seen as a way to sell add-on features beyond the basic ones offered with the free version.
Another possible revenue asset for the six-person SnapShots firm also is one that allows the app the function almost like a a digital scrapbook app, Dantes said. The company is working on a feature called “Albums,” which will help users store and access their media more easily. Dantes said it will be made availble for SnapShots users later this year.
The advantages of compiling and storing various media associated with a single event is self-evident to any family that has ever spent a week’s vacation at Walt Disney World. Consider a hypothetical example of one family’s week in the parks:
While at Hollywood Studios, the kids split up but still want to communicate with one another about the fun they’re having at Tower of Terror or Toy Story Mania – and they want to share photos with one another to show what they’re experiencing.
Meanwhile, Dad wants to share a video post with the co-workers back in the office. But it’s a video of him taking the plunge on Splash Mountain – which his wife shot on her iPhone.
And after the vacation, mom wants to create a Shutterfly book to commemorate the trip. She wants to use some iPhone pictures the kids shot while on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom and that funny one with Minnie Mouse that Aunt Mable took with her iPad in Fantasyland.
With SnapShots, Dantes said, all of this media is now in one so-called event space, making it easier for users to access and share.
In addition to a private family event like in the previous example, Dantes said SnapShot’s public feature also allows users to interact in creative ways at the same site. For example, he said, public users can post their media via SnapShots and have others comment on the photos or videos or share their own.
Using Cinderella Castle as an example, Dantes said one public user can post photos of the iconic attraction at Magic Kingdom. Other SnapShots users in the park – or anywhere, really – can see the castle and even get a sense of the real-time events on scene, such as whether the afternoon summer showers have started yet or if the crowds are gathering in front of the castle for the afternoon parade.
Dantes and Flor said they think the possibilities for the app's use is as limitless as opportunities envisioned by its users.
As local theme-park attendance here in Orlando rises even as the popularity of photo- and video-sharing apps increases, too, it would seem that the SnapShots app’s creators are positioned at the nexus of two strong trends.
And, though the SnapShots app wasn’t necessarily created with the theme parks in mind, it’s clear that the iOS app can offer a unique snapshot in time for anyone visiting the parks.