The more I use Spottah, the more I realize it does two jobs. First, Spottah is a social network. My friends and I, for example, created a “Current Status” album. It’s a fun space for us to share what we’re doing without blurting to the masses on Facebook or Instagram. As a result, the pictures and comments are incredibly personal. Other times, though, I turn to Spottah to organize my photos. Right now, as I travel across Europe, Spottah is doing exactly this.
On the train from my apartment to Newark Airport, I fired up Spottah and created a “Nolan Does Europe” album. As soon as I landed in Madrid, I began snapping away. There is so much to capture: monuments, paintings, street markets, tapas bars, new friends. Thanks to Spottah, I can easily caption a photo and add comments. For example, when I take pictures of art I write the artist and year in the caption. And if the piece really moves me, I jot down a comment to help me remember the moment. Spottah, in short, is so much more than a collection of photos. Spottah is a journal that reminds me of where I’ve been, what I’ve learned, and what I was thinking.
As I pack for Italy and reflect back on my time in Spain, it is amazing to see my journey come to life inside Spottah. I love that I don’t have to upload my photos after the fact. And as you can see above, I have all my Madrid photos organized neatly on the map. (Didn’t know about this feature? Simply open an album, tap the crosshairs icon on the upper right and, voila!, all the pictures are overlaid onto a map.)
Stay tuned to see how I use Spottah in Italy! I’m guessing there will be lots of gelato and leaning towers.
You met The Machyine. Now meet Spottah’s (app store, video) other rockstar developreneur. He´s the fastest cat in the jungle.
“Cheetah The Cat” Nolan had a concept: An app for creating a trip-specific photo albums. Jon had a wider vision: Why stop at trips; what about albums for groups, events, interests? A concept, a vision and $1.95 will get you a cup of coffee. Enter The Cat.
The Cat took our vision, added his own touch and delivered a working product. It was December 2011, and we were about to present our concept to a packed room at NYU. We had PowerPoint deck. We had nothing. The Cat quietly asked for Jon’s iPhone, which he plugged into his MacBook. A few moments later, The Cat handed Jon his phone and said, “Here you go.”
And there it was. A minimal viable product. It was not pretty. Hell, it was ugly. But it worked. Jon created an album, added a photo, and invited The Cat. He accepted the album and added a photo. Viola! A collaborative photo album.
We ditched the PowerPoint and did a live demo. “How many of you would use this product in your everyday life,” Jon asked the room. Nearly every hand went up. And these weren’t half-assed hand-raises. Think third grade teacher’s pet that knows the answer.
Since that day more than six months ago, Team Spottah has been driving hard to build an easy to use, relevant app that is fast and reliable. The Cat has been behind the wheel; and no, not like Toonces. There is no part of the technology stack that The Cat can’t pounce on.
Like The Machyine, The Cat is always looking ahead. It´s been an absolute pleasure to work with someone who constantly questions the status quo and actively takes on additional work to make Spottah the best it can be. Ultimately, it´s worth it — especially when we get love mail.
The one problem with The Cat. He lives 3,000 miles away. We talk every night, G+ Hangout every weekend and try to meet in person every few months. It works, but it would be nice if our friend and partner lived and worked among us.
Yesterday, Apple released iOS 6, which includes a new feature called Shared Photo Streams. In a nutshell, Shared Photo Streams is similar to Spottah (app store, video), in that you can create one album or stream, invite a select group of people to that album, and everyone in that album can view and add photos as well as comment.
How do we feel about this? To be honest, the first hour was rough. I personally was in a catonic, woe-is-me rut. But then I gathered myself from from the couch and realized that this is great news. Here is why:
Apple’s entry proves the Spottah Concept - Since quietly launching three weeks ago, we have have had one goal: collect customer feedback and prove that people want to selectively share photos. Presumably, Apple did the same research and received positive results. So while it is easier to not be in the same market as Apple, it is great to know that we are in the correct market.
Apple Photo Stream will be Apple Only - Apple is clearly trying to distance itself from Google, as evinced by the decision to drop Google Maps in iOS6. Apple’s Photo Stream product only works on Apple products, and I don’t see this changing in the future. Yet, the winner of the select photo sharing space will be platform agnostic so that iPhone, Droid, Windows and Blackberry friends can seamlessly share photos. Spottah is currently iOS only, but we have plans to be on multiple platforms in a very short amount of time.
Big entrants rarely win - When Facebook launched Places, everyone said it was the end of Foursquare. When Google launched Google+, the critics said that Facebook was in deep trouble. And when Apple launched iCards, people said it was the end of Postagram. Not only did these predictions not come true, but each threatened incumbent did better post entrance. Why? See the first point: An entrance by a bigger, stronger competitor validates the market and raises awareness of all products. Plus, new entrants aren’t specialized in the niche verticals. Apple is awesome at building beautiful hardware and fostering an ecosystem via the App Store. Are they good at building a social network? We don’t know yet, but I would bet that they are not as creative or agile as smaller rivals like Spottah.
Spottah is a social network…and we built it first - When we first designed Spottah, we thought of it more as a utility application. However, once Spottah was in the hands of users it became clear that it is a social network. It was great to hear Apple describe our similar products as social. Why? Because social networks are way cooler than utility applications. Also, I don’t mind bragging that we envisioned, designed and launched before Apple.
The Spottah team welcomes Apple into the market. Some competition will only make us stronger.
You know a wedding is great when the guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends. At my wedding, we achieved this by having a bonfire on Friday night. Under a Harvest Moon in Central Vermont, my very-soon-to-be wife’s friends and family mingled with my crew. By Sunday, real friendships had formed. People who did not know each other 48 hours before were hugging each other goodbye.
I share this story because I recently heard about Spottah bringing people together at a wedding. Basically, one woman created an album specifically for her friend’s wedding. As the day passed, she invited a few guests to the album. Those people, in turn, invited a few more. By the time the reception was in full swing, a dozen or so people were adding photos in real-time to one collaborative album. The next morning, they invited the bride and groom. They loved it. Rather than having to check their various friends’ Facebook pages, the newly weds had the most memorable photos in one place.
The album will live well beyond the wedding. The wedding’s guests can comment on each other’s photos. They can create new albums together and get introduced to one another’s friends who have similar interests. In other words, all of these once-strangers are now connected by one social network.
You’ve seen the app. Now it’s time to meet the fine folks behind the pixels. Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to Team Spottah. So without further ado, meet.. Yin aka “The Machyine” Yin joined us this spring and it was immediately apparent that he is not the usual developreneur. As soon as we finalize the requirements of one build, he’s mapping out version two, three, and four. Yin is on top of the market, constantly scanning for what’s new and hot in order to ensure that Spottah is fresh and up-to-date. Not a meeting passes without Yin whipping out his iPhone to show us a new app with a unique animation. Yin’s creativity and coding skills are only matched by his insane work ethic. All too often we receive automated emails from GitHub at 3 AM, notifying us that Yin fixed a bug (or ten) or implemented a new feature. Yin is not a man, he is a Machyine.
Yin has a unique photo style. A few weeks back, Yin dropped his iPhone, cracking the camera lens. Now, Yin’s photos look as if Spiderman covered the world in webs. Is that the Brooklyn Bridge covered in webs? Nope, just Yin taking a photo on the Q train. But at Spottah we see inspiration in everything. When we add filters, you’ll be able to enjoy The Machyine filter.
Spottah wouldn’t be Spottah without Machyine. The moment he joined, the trajectory of Spottah changed forever.
Stay tuned. Next week we’ll introduce you to the fastest cat in the jungle.