Blog Archives

New Instagram Platform “Song for Pic” Poses a Unique Avenue for the Music Industry

Song for a PicWelcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at ‘Song for Pic,’ a platform that adds randomized music to your existing Instagram photos (and videos soon too).

As recent as February 2013, Instagram hit 100 million active monthly users. The now-Facebook owned app has certainly introduced the online community to talented photographers and artists—as well as brought out the inner photogs in us all—but as of today, Instagram has yet to create a truly monetizable service.

Song for Pic, a new Instagram platform that randomly assigns music to a user’s uploaded photo, might eventually fill that void. While the platform is still in its infancy, the plan is for the music industry to piggyback on Instagram’s coattails to explore a much more instantaneous, and potentially lucrative connection with prospective users.

The inspiration for Song for Pic was about as straight forward as one would think.

“I loved Instagram from the first moment I tried it,” said Ricardo Fonseca, Song for Pic CEO. “But I also felt it was missing an important artistic component: music.”

A few months later, Song for Pic was born.

The platform is extremely easy to use. When a user enters the main site, they’re prompted to enter their Instagram user name and password. Song for Pic then automatically retrieves a photo from the Instagram account, and assigns four random songs. The songs range features classics and/or very well known songs, “Like from Kris Kross to Michael Jackson to Aretha Franklin—just to name a few,” Fonseca said.

A user then has the option to share their new and improved Instagram photo to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and/or Tumblr, so that friends can vote on which of the four songs they think is the most appropriate for the given photo.

But perhaps the recent news of Instagram incorporating video—in an attempt to challenge Vine’s short-lived monopoly—is a prime case of “right place, right time” for Fonseca’s tune-centered platform.

Perhaps more so than photos,”video already has the audio element,” Fonseca said. “The result of mixing video and one random song would most likely have a music video quality, which with the appropriate song, could be quite fun [and hopefully have mainstream appeal].”

Fonseca, who is currently unaware of any other start-up working on a similar platform, realizes that the market could quickly become flooded with competition. That said, the future is still bright for Song for Pic.

“The possibility of instantly buying the song was always a goal in this project,” said Fonseca. “At the very least, Song for Pic will certainly be a new way for people to discover music [...] and a fresh way for the music industry to reach [them].”

 

Mozy Online Backup with Stash

 

Sketchfab Has a [3D] Vision for How Models Should Be Displayed Online

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce some of the new programs seeking the way we live and work. This week, Sketchfab recreates a 3D world on a 2D screen..

Despite the amazing technological advancements you’ve seen in your life, the images on your computer and smartphone can’t fully replicate the three-dimensional world around you.

Sketchfab is trying to change that. The New York-based startup has a vision to create a website where designers can properly showcase their 3D model work as it should be–with height, width, and depth.

“There are major web platforms for each media format,” said Alban Denoyel, CEO of Sketchfab. “YouTube [is] for videos, Slideshare [is] for slides, and Soundcloud [is] for music. Sketchfab [wants] to become the online home for 3D files.”

Unlike artist video reels, where viewers only get a limited, awkward taste of an artist’s work, Sketchfab enables viewers (and prospective clients) to fully experience all of the finer graphic details–like zooming in and out, into and around every nook and cranny of the model. Sketchfab’s Sony PS4 model, for instance, provides users with a unique view of the new gaming hardware.

“3D models are incredibly engaging, and do exactly what the internet does best–convey information,” said Denoyel. “They display levels of detail that you either can’t get from a photograph, or would need multiple photographs to convey. And [3D models] give the user full control of how they take that information in, as opposed to photo and video, whose point of view has been decided on by someone other than the user.”

Sketchfab also provides users with the ability to make on-the-fly stylistic edits with the “Toolbox.” Users can choose between a shadeless or original render, as well as transforming it into a wire-frame style in either white, grey, black, or blue.

The model platform also takes 27 different 3D formats, has exporters available for most major software platforms, and each model has its own embed code. The latter means, from a social standpoint, that Sketchfab makes sharing simple. Linking or embedding a 3D model is as elementary as a YouTube link.

And there doesn’t seem to be much competition, either.

“There were many attempts to do a web-based 3D viewer before,” Denoyel noted. “But all of them required plugins, which is a no-go today.”

Considering the ease and seamlessness of the platform, the appeal of Sketchfab is universal–and has a lot of long-term potential.

While the company is still exploring various revenue models, Denoyel’s eyes are on capturing the market. “The absolute focus is to be the number one community for 3D designers on the web” he said. “Because you can make 3D models of anything, [...] 3D models will become an integral part of media in general, as well e-commerce and brand marketing, amongst other verticals [like the tech world]. Imagine going to Amazon.com, and instead of needing to click through 10 different photos to get an idea of what a product looked like, you could instead fully interact with a life-like 3D model.”

Even though Sketchfab is still in its infancy, the site is quickly becoming popular. In fact, Sketchfab’s 3D model of the new Sony PS4 received more views than Sony’s official trailer–and in just five days, the model haseclipsed the 430K view mark.

As exciting as Sketchfab’s initial success has been, the future of 3D model technology might revolutionize the types of media online users share.

“3D scanning technology will be built into smartphones, which means anyone will be able to create a 3D model,” said Denoyel. “And [users] are going to want to share their creations–the same way people want to share their photos and videos. [...]”

Denoyel thinks “that’s a pretty good place to be.”

 

 

MozyPro Online Backup for Business

 

App Profile: Power People’s Presence Aims to Recycle Old Mobile Apple Products into Home Security Hardware

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce some of the new programs seeking the way we live and work. This week, a Presence breathes new life into old Apple products.

Presence AppThe public’s decade-plus enrapture with Apple products has left millions of old iPods, iPhones, and even iPads sequestered to dusty drawers and closets everywhere. Yes, these products–in their heyday–were expensive and awesome, but now that they’ve been supplanted by a new generation of the product, they’re more or less useless. Instead of letting them collect dust, or worse, giving them away to someone who would actually use it, Presence by People Power, has an alternative suggestion: turn it into a remote, home security camera.

Turning a seemingly defunct mobile Apple product into a security system might appear to be an odd hack, but Presence’s inspiration actually exposes the commonplace, expensive hurdles involved in securing our homes.

“My mom’s house was burglarized twice last year. The thieves took her jewelry, laptop, and some cash, but even worse, they took away her belief that she was safe in her own home,” said Gene Wang, CEO of Power People. “After the second break-in, I helped my mom buy a security system, which cost us about $1,800 upfront, plus $48 per month.”The installation wasn’t just expensive, it was time consuming. “I watched as the installer took 1.5 days getting the system working and thought: There must be a better, cheaper, simpler way to make people feel safe in their homes.”

With Presence, Wang believes he can offer people an inexpensive (free, in fact) alternative to a usually expensive problem. Unlike most home security systems, Presence can be “installed” with a free download via the iPhone app store.

Some of the key features of Presence includes:
- A camera with two-way audio and video
- Motion detection with notifications
- Seamless dispatching of video clips to your personal email
- Security and privacy controls
- A variety of “if-then” rules
- Home and away mode
- Front or back camera remote control
- Multiple cameras per account
- How-to videos as well as online help

And while the competition is deep, Presence has one substantial advantage: it’s free. On the big brand end, companies like AT&T and Comcast have entered the home security market with Digital Life and Xfinity Home, respectively. But unlike Presence, the services are not free (i.e. setup charges and monthly fees), and involve heavy installation. Wang also mentioned startups like SmartThings and LogMeIn, as well as other small companies like Nest and Dropcam–however, again, their services are not free.

In regards to what to classify Presence as, Wang prefers to call it a “platform”–not an app. The CEO created a developer portal to the site, which offers the platform’s API so that developers can add their own hardware and software creations.

“By making Presence a ‘platform’ instead of just an app, we’re going to do far more to bring the ‘Internet of Everything’ to everyone.”

To download the free Presence platform application, visit the iTunes Store.

 

MozyPro Online Backup

 

Could Voxer Be the Future of All Mobile Communication?

If you’re young and American, you’re likely already answering texts more often than phone calls. According to Jeffrey Kluger of Time, “Americans ages 18-29 send and receive an average of nearly 88 text messages per day, compared to 17 phone calls.” Silicon Valley startup Voxer is betting that it knows how people will want to communicate in the future…

The app does not currently include a conventional call function, it does utilize a PTT (push to talk/transmit) technology–which is essentially a “walkie talkie” or “talking text” feature. Voxer’s reasoning is that users would rather not receive so many phone calls.

“We believe there’s a time and a place for every form of communication–but every form of communication also has its drawbacks,” said Nicole Strada, the Director of Marketing at Voxer. “Everyone knows how annoying it is to get called when they’re in the middle of an important meeting or conversation. If that happens they have two choices, pick up the phone and be rude to people in the room, or let it go to voice mail which people hate checking.”

Given the obtrusive nature of phone calls, Voxer perhaps addresses this by prompting users to listen to the message live, or just keep it for later. There’s no longer the guilt associated with screening calls, or the immediacy of taking a call either.

In addition to the PTT function, users can also send normal texts, photos, location messages, and even start conversations with groups of friends. But unlike most texting, which access your cellular carrier, Voxer can be accessed with a simple WiFi connection–and there’s no expensive roaming or international charges.

“We’ve heard stories of people from all over the world entering in a group chat through Voxer,” said Strada. “[This] allow[s] them to connect with their friends who are in other countries simply and easily because Voxer works on either 3G, 4G, or WiFi. [For instance], soldiers in Afghanistan are connecting with their family members stateside and college friends are reconnecting with past classmates scattered all over the world.”

Yet as interactive as Voxer appears to be for the average user, the app company is also actively looking to attract small, medium, and larger businesses to make the switch.

“Voxer Pro (the ‘business account’ version of the app) works on iOS and Android phones, providing live and recorded voice, multimedia messaging, location stamps, and administrative control,” said Strada. “[The] unique admin portal [...] makes it easier for businesses to keep control of who is using their system, [and] to communicate with employees or customers. [...] Other PTT solutions only work in limited geographical areas, and as WiFi and data networks become more ubiquitous this will improve Voxer Pro accessibility even more.”

It’s a far easier sell for the average user to integrate Voxer into their daily communication routine, but attracting businesses will certainly present the larger hurdle. Even though Voxer has “considered” adding a VoIP feature into the fold, the app company is content with how they’ve currently presented a new, more creative way to interact with friends, employees, and even prospective clients.

Voxer is a free app that can be downloaded in the iTunes Store or Google Play Store.

 

Free MozyHome Online Backup With Mozy Stash

 

New ‘Bondsy’ App Aims to Create Trade Marketplace / Social Network Hybrid

The Bondsy AppGrowing up, many people had hobbies focused on collecting, whether it was stickers, sports cards, pogs, or even Beanie Babies. But arguably the most important aspect of a hobby was the ability swing trades with friends. The objective, of course, was to acquire a coveted collectible– the thrill was in the hunt.

The new app Bondsy is the grown-up version of this. The iPhone app is a unique, user-friendly marketplace-meets-social -network that enables users to list unwanted items (e.g. a pair of pink headphones) to a trusted environment of interested people.

There doesn’t appear to be much competition either. Craigslist, the internet’s reigning place to quickly (and cheaply) pawn off unwanted goods, is often too seedy for even the most genuine transaction. And while Facebook’s “Marketplace” is certainly a more friendly online community, any “available items” status would inevitably get lost in the mix with the incessant influx of Buzz Feed links, funny cat videos, and ex-girlfriends’ tropical vacation photo albums.

The app itself is simple to use. To get started, a user just needs to snap a photo, write a caption, and add one or more price tags. Price tags are completely free form, allowing users to ask for whatever they might want (not just money). In addition, users can also set different price tags for friends, and even friends of friends.

But perhaps the most interesting feature of Bondsy is its “trade” option. While people can use Bondsy to sell items, the app encourages users to make a trade. To help facilitate this, users can create a list of “wanted” items as a potential return. This truly brings everyone’s childhood full circle in the mobile age.

Bondsy’s origin only adds to the genuine nature of the transaction-based social network. Diego Zambrano, the co-founder of Bondsy, accidentally came up with the app idea out of personal necessity.

“In 2007, I was moving from Brazil to New York and I didn’t want to bring anything with me. So when I decided to get rid of all my stuff, I had an insight. There were a lot of marketplaces out there, but I wanted to offer my things to my friends first. So, I came up with a hack.”

Zambrano used Flickr to upload photos of his unwanted items, and then emailed all his friends a link to it. However, instead of responding to his email, Zambrano noticed that people were directly commenting on the photos. At that moment, he knew he had created a new social experience.

The proud co-founder believes that Bondsy will be a success since users are naturally more comfortable transacting with friends, but also because there are more layers to the app than people think.

“You stumble upon things you might need and want, but didn’t know it. You can get to know more about your friends and their taste. It sparks conversations.”

 

Mozy's Mobile App

 

Pivoting Can Even Work for App Companies

Nokia Cell PhoneIn the long history of innovation, there have been some incredible instances of companies pivoting to a different niche. Perhaps the most startling pivot was Nokia, which despite being the leading mobile phone maker from 1998 to 2012, was originally a small-town Finnish paper and rubber manufacturer.

But while technology companies of today might not so drastically change their infrastructure, even one-beat smartphone apps have successfully overhauled their outlook to adjust to growing tech and mobile trends.

Arguably the most notable example of an app successfully pivoting, is Instagram. Instagram was originally conceived as “Burbn,” a check-in, location-based tool. Unlike Foursquare, its main competitor in this space, Burbn enabled users to share filter-enhanced photos. Co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger quickly realized that users were more intrigued by the photo sharing aspect of Burbn than the check-in function. It was from that insight that Instagram was born. With over 100 million active users, and its historical $1 billion acquisition by Facebook, Systrom and Krieger were wise to pivot.

When Feathr launched in 2012, many people had a similar reaction: I should have thought of that. The app’s original focus was to digitally re-invent the traditional, and archaic business card, while also implementing a social, share function. But co-founder Aidan Augustin decided to point Feathr in a different direction in 2013, repositioning it as an interactive tool for corporate conferences. With Feathr, users are quickly able to access cleanly designed profiles for conference speakers, exhibitors, and other attendees, while also seamlessly connecting via LinkedIn and Twitter. Suffice to say, Feathr has vastly improved its app, and in doing so, could potentially revolutionize the vCard in the process.

Even though Qwiki, which was essentially a “video meets Wikipedia” tool, had been a heralded iPhone app since its inception in 2010, founder Doug Imbruce wasn’t satisfied. Imbruce yearned to compete with video-based social apps, like the Twitter-backed Vine. But instead of implementing Vine’s 6-second, GIF-style approach into his app, the founder went in a slightly different direction. With the new Qwiki, users can create a quick video (or slideshow) sourcing photos from one’s iPhone camera roll, and without any prior editing software knowledge, turn a folder of cute nephew baby pictures into a short video. Users can then share the video with friends, family, and the world (if you really wanted to).

 

Mozy Mobile App

 

Reeder App Might Become The Google Reader “Spinoff”

Sometimes spinoffs can be extremely successful. For instance, “Cheers” was one of the most popular television shows for twelve seasons before ending in 1993–but its spinoff, “Frasier,” matched its success, staying on-air until 2004.

Reeder, which is an iPhone and iPad app that was once used in conjunction with the soon-to-be-defunct Google Reader, will now attempt to go solo in an attempt to retain the plethora of shocked and saddened Google Reader users. While it isn’t a “spinoff” in the traditional sense of the word, for Reeder’s sake, the RSS feed-based app can only hope it doesn’t go the way of “Joanie Loves Chachi.”

What makes Reeder’s independence so noteworthy is that there doesn’t seem to be any precedent in app history. Even though it is common for an app or company to pivot, Reeder’s new outlook is more of an unorthodox expansion than a pivot. The near-future death of Google Reader (on July 1, officially) should have, in fact, put apps like Reeder out of business. But instead, developer Silvio Rizzi embraced the market-shattering development.

According to Reeder’s site, Rizzi stated:

“Unfortunately, it’s still too early to have answers to all questions I got the last couple weeks. Probably most importantly, one thing that’s clear: development of Reeder will continue after July 1st.”

Rizzi also mentioned that the updated Reeder app will look to integrate Feedbin as well as support for standalone/local RSS feeds. In addition, Reeder will soon “add more services [that users] can choose from in the next weeks and months.”

Despite the grandiose plans, Reeder’s potential to monopolize on the Google Reader void isn’t clinched quite yet. Even though the app might arguably be in the best position to cash in, they’re not the only tech company throwing their hat into the “Google Reader replacement” ring. Feedly, a similar news aggregation app, immediately saw their own base climb by three million new users within two weeks of Google’s announcement. In addition, Feedly, unlike Reeder, already has an Android app in place. Also, Digg, a popular social news website that averages hundreds of thousands of unique views per month, announced their legitimate plans to compete for displaced RSS-feeders.

Competition aside, if Silvio Rizzi and Reeder follow through on their promises, and turns its app into a the most user friendly, and viable Google Reader replacement, they will not only become a RSS mammoth, but also, become the gold standard for dependent-apps-turned-independent.

Reeder is now a free app for the iPad, but will cost $2.99 for the iPhone. Download Reeder at the iTunes Store.

 

MozyPro Online Backup

 

Where to, Bub?: Geo-Locating ‘Hailo’ Taxi Cab App Expands to New York City

Taxis in New YorkNew Yorkers are a people who appreciate convenience. Take, for example, its omnipresent taxi cab fleet. Be it a 4 AM flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport, or a 5 AM (ahem) last call at a club, there’s a good chance you’ll find a yellow Ford Crown Victoria–or ten.

But New York City is also a constant survival of the fittest. There’s always a little competition while trying to hail a cab, and sometimes you just can’t beat out the crafty veterans. The popular app Uber has tried to attract some fed-up taxi customers, sending a geo-tracked limousine service to your door or street corner. But for most folks, an on-demand limo is just far too much more expensive than the traditional metered cab.

In an attempt to keep up with the times while maintaining the comparatively reasonable costs, Hailo, another geo-locating taxi app, has recently struck a deal with New York City cab companies. Now, New Yorkers will be able to track taxi cabs in their direct vicinity, and with the touch of a button, “hail” them from the comforts of their home, cubicle, or even local bagel shop.

Hailo works just like Uber, but with yellow cabs instead of black Town Cars. A customer can see how many available cabs there are in their area, what the wait time would be, instantly hail the car of choice, and store their credit card information so that payment is seamless. Even though taxis in New York are unlike any other city in the world, “Hailo” is not a neophyte when it comes to big-city cabbing. The company currently works with the taxi fleets in Barcelona, Boston, Chicago, Dublin, London, Madrid, Tokyo, and Toronto.

But the app isn’t just for passengers. As Hailo points out, taxi drivers spend a lot of time trying to find passengers too, and now with the app, taxi drivers will be able to have a far better idea of where needy passengers are located, which will cut down on the fickle nature of the business (and gas expenses).

Visit the Hailo website here, or take a moment to watch their introductory YouTube video. As an additional bonus, if you sign-up for the app now, Hailo will deposit a $10 credit into your account.

Download Hailo for free in the iTunes Store or the Google Play Store.

 

Mozy Mobile App for iTunes and Android

 

An App in Pursuit of Finding Wi-Fi

Finding a strong wireless signal has become essential for those carrying almost any piece of technology. Aside from smartphones, tablets, and laptops, now even digital cameras are entering the internet-connectivity fray. But as dependent as people and their mobile devices are on the internet, finding a wireless signal to stay connected to is usually a recurring hurdle.

And that’s where the one-beat — yet still brilliant — ‘Wi-Fi Finder’ app comes into play. JiWire’s Wi-Fi Finder, like Google Maps, uses geo-tracking to find your location, but it is then able to direct you to a variety of wireless internet options in your vicinity.

With Wi-Fi Finder, not only can you uncover internet anywhere, but also, prospective users can further filter the types of internet they’d like to use. In addition to toggling between “paid” and “free” (or both) connections, the app features “location type” (store, restaurant, park, etc.), “providers” (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.), or whether there’s just an internet hotspot (e.g. Boingo) available.

As handy as Wi-Fi Finder can be in a pinch, the app can also be used ahead of time too. For instance, if you’re specifically looking for a cafe on Charles Street in Manhattan’s West Village, the app can inform you which cafes have wireless and whether you’ll have to pay for it.

(Screenshot #1: the search filters)

Wi-Fi Finder App Search Filters

 

(Screenshot #2: the map feature)

Wi-Fi Finder App Map Screen

(Screenshot #3: the search results)

Wi-Fi Finder App Search Results

But perhaps the app’s best feature is its off-line database. Even if you don’t have a network connection, users can still access Wi-Fi Finder’s off-line database to find a nearby hotspot. This function is particularly helpful while abroad, especially if you want to use your home smart phone, but would rather not pay the exorbitant roaming fees.

Wi-Fi Finder is a free app, and can be downloaded in either the iTunes Store (for the iPhone or iPad) or Google Play Store (for any Android device).

 

Mozy Mobile Apps

 

SnapChat Revolutionizes How Users Share Private Media

Snapchat ScreenshotAs proven by the hundred million users on Instagram, people love to share all kinds of photos. But when it comes to sharing those more intimate types of media, there’s little preventing the recipient from publicly re-sharing it with a wider audience. To help solve that troubling disparity, SnapChat has become the first mainstream app to put an end to user’s privacy concerns.

Unlike sending a picture through regular text, SnapChat pictures will self-destruct. Senders can set a specific life for the picture — from one to ten seconds — for viewers to be able to view the picture. After the time runs out, it is terminated forever. The media is also deleted from SnapChat’s servers too. Considering how Instragram’s designs to own and profit from user’s content backfired, this already puts SnapChat ahead of the terms-of-service curve.

Even though SnapChat has been around since September 2011, it has emerged as a innovative social media more recently. According to co-founder Evan Spiegel, more than twenty million photos are shared per day, with over a billion photos shared since it’s debut. Apparently Facebook took notice, and created its own version of the app, revitalizing the formerly-dead ‘Poke’ function. And while Facebook could technically tap into its existing base to propel the application’s success, SnapChat might still be the superior option as Poke fails to alert users when recipients take screenshots of the supposedly-private conversation. In this respect, Poke fails the privacy test, which is essentially the whole initial point of the app.

Technology experts have questioned whether SnapChat’s ceiling is merely a tool for provocative messaging, or if it has the depth to become the next photo-sharing giant, but regardless of accusations, the company has seemingly found a large enough niche to monetize in the near future.

 

Mozy Mobile App