Category Archives: App Profile

MeetMe’s Video-Centered “Charm” App Could Finally Monetize Digital Dating

Welcome 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 Charm, an app that has a whole new take on the typical dating app.

Charm AppApp first, monetization later. At least, that seems to be a pattern these days. And what better way to monetize than to incorporate video? Currently, video is helping a new app called Charm stand out from among the dating app crowd.

Apps such as Tinder have taken the dating world by storm. Essentially a game of “hot or not,” Tinder prompts people to swipe left (reject) or right (approve) on users’ photos in the hopes of making a match. According to TechCrunch, the app has matched more than 50 million people and about 50% of users open the app on a daily basis. But even with the high volume of usage, Tinder’s path to profit is still unclear.

But, through its utilization of video, the Charm app by MeetMe is aiming to do more than just connect local singles. Given how both Google and Facebook are enjoying a spike in mobile advertising revenue from their footage-based ventures (YouTube and Instagram, respectively), MeetMe seems poised to monetize the digital dating world.

On the surface, Charm doesn’t differ much from existing romance apps out there. Like Tinder and OkCupid, Charm identifies potential matches based on proximity, prompts users to reject or approve other users, and enables successful matches to chat with each other. But instead of choosing from among the usual selfies, however, Charm prompts users to upload short video clips of themselves.

Catherine Cook, the co-founder and vice president of brand strategy for MeetMe, believes that people are tired of the static nature of mobile dating apps.

“A major benefit of the video approach to dating is that it doesn’t reduce people to just a profile photo,” said Cook in an interview with Wired. “Apps like Tinder make it very easy to dismiss or express interest based on a profile photo, but we don’t believe you can make a first impression with just a photo–which may turn out to be five to 10 years old. A video shows personality and a realistic sense of what a person actually looks like now.”

But regardless of the video-versus-photos debate, it’s likely Cook and her co-founder/brother Geoff Cook might not be looking to reinvent matchmaker formulas like Match.com or to emulate the bar scene like Tinder. The siblings’ vision for Charm–which Geoff calls “Tinder meets Vine”–could just be a purely lucrative endeavor, as the app’s distinguishing feature (video) opens the door for a more tangible media buy.

Video has certainly paid off in the past. According to Bloomberg, YouTube’s mobile advertising revenue tripled to $350 million in a span of just six months. And Instagram (via Facebook) has similar plans to monetize its popular video feature, finally tapping into its impressive 130 million-user base.

Charm is still in its infancy (see its introductory video, here), and its monetization plans will likely be put on hold until it has gained enough of a following to implement active media buys. But, assuming Charm can eventually boast similar user numbers as its digital dating competitors, the Cooks will finally have put a price on love.

 

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App Gives Users the Benefits of ‘Bump’ without the Bump

Welcome 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 Airlike, an app that could change the way you interact with your phone and the files stored on it.

AirLike AppRemember Bump? When the file-sharing app first appeared on the market, the technology that allowed two users to transfer information from one phone to another simply by holding their devices and bumping fists was a great party trick. But did fist-pounding one’s neighbor become a universal way to share information? Did Bumping become the new handshake at networking events and business meetings? Not exactly.

A new app–Airlike–is giving users the opportunity to use the same style of proximity technology to share files in a more practical way. Indeed, wrote reviewer Tucker Cummings on Tapscape, it’s practical and fun, and can be compared to technology seen in the movies. “Whenever I watch a sci-fi or action flick, I find myself wishing that the technology I see on the screen was real,” he said. “Airlike is pretty much the closest thing I’ve found to that kind of ability.”

With Airlike, rather than physically touching, users simply point their phones at one another and “flick” files toward each other with their fingers. Business users may feel more comfortable with this less touchy-feely way to file share, especially when it comes to new connections. Instead of using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, Airlike leverages GPS and the phone’s gyroscope, compass and accelerometer sensors to send the information.

A lack of consumer enthusiasm for touching others wasn’t the only challenge Bump faced and Airlike overcomes.

“Along with trumping Bump’s need for physical contact, [Airlike maker] Displair is also talking up Airlike’s functionality over Apple’s own AirDrop phone-to-phone filesharing offering,” wrote TechCrunch. “That’s because AirDrop requires iOS7, while Airlike works on iOS 6 and up, meaning that it supports a greater number of Apple’s older devices.”

Airlike has the edge now, but could it, like Bump, face similar threats of being overshadowed by a newer, more feature-rich rival? Not yet, but when building a better mousetrap, it’s always wise to keep an eye out for the exterminator. Indeed, with the average lifespan of an app estimated to be 14 months, Airlike could be just as cool as the market needs it to be–and relevant for just as long.

 

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Seene Enables iPhone Users to Make 3D Photos

Welcome 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 Seene, an app that adds a whole new dimension (pun intended) to the way users take and share photos.

Seene AppPeople have long been touting 3D (a.k.a. the third dimension) as “the future of technology.” But while 3D technology has advanced dramatically—as seen in movies such as “Avatar” and “Gravity”—it’s always had an associated exclusivity and exorbitant price that was prohibitive for the masses.

But the new Seene photo app, by Obvious Engineering, is looking to extend 3D technology to all–or, at least, to all smartphone users.

“The [Seene] team shares an interest in helping people better connect with and understand the world that they see via their mobile phone,” said Obvious Engineering founder Andrew McPhee. “With Seene, we wanted to use some of the technology we have developed to evolve what it means to visually share your life with others.”

Seene captures both image and depth information as a user moves his or her phone around a subject. The app then builds up a depth map (3D model) of what the user is looking at.

“This radically changes the viewing experience because as soon as viewers move their phone even slightly, the three-dimensional surface that supports the captured image accentuates the depth of the photo,” said McPhee. “This provides a powerful impression of occlusion through depth and movement, making it feel more like you are looking at something real instead of a 2D photo.”

Seene is hardly alone in the 3D photo app arena. Other popular 3D photo apps include Jittergram, 3D Camera and Scubo. But the big difference between Seene and its competitors is that McPhee’s app utilizes non-stereoscopic 3D photo formats. Essentially, what this means is that users don’t need any special glasses or additional hardware or server processing to view 3D pictures. The result is a format that is “instantly enjoyable and inherently shareable,” according to McPhee.

The million-dollar (at least) question for McPhee is whether Seene can eventually dethrone photo-sharing giants such as Instagram and Vine.

“We wanted to test the waters and see if people were ready to share something more than static images and video frames,” said McPhee. “The public response has been a resounding yes, and we have had more than 700,000 downloads since we launched a little over a month ago.”

The next step for Seene is to fully integrate with the likes of Twitter and Facebook, as well as with email and text. For the time being, Tweets and Facebook posts feature a 2D preview of what are called “seenes.” Tumblr has fully embraced the 3D photo format, enabling users to view seenes as they were natively intended.

Integrating with Twitter and Facebook are the next logical next steps, but McPhee has a vivid plan laid out for the future.

“We’re looking to evolve people’s expectations of how they can share their life with a new medium that is enabled by the mini-super computers that we as a generation now carry around in our pockets,” said McPhee. “Merging image, shape and interactivity is a good starting point, and we think this has the potential to succeed on a mass scale.”

Competing with Instagram and Vine is a tall order, but, as McPhee noted, “The thing that is wooing users is the ability to share the world as it actually looks—not as a flat representation.”

Download Seene for free at the App Store.

 

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‘Outbox’ Turns Your Snail Mail into Email

Welcome 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 Outbox, a service takes your snail mail and digitizes it for seamless online or mobile viewing.

Even though email has long taken over as the main source of person-to-person mail communication, people still receive snail mail. A lot of it, in fact.

The United States Postal Service has hardly kept up with the times. Sure, truck and plane fleets have replaced horses as its transportation means, but the independent government agency has continued to move paper doorstep to doorstep for 238 years.

Intro to Outbox from Outbox on Vimeo.

With tangible mail coexisting with email for foreseeable future, Outbox is hoping to bring a digital solution to a very physical problem.

“On average, a person receives about 90 pieces of postal mail every month,” said Outbox co-founder Will Davis. “Granted, some of this is complete junk. But when new Outbox users are better able to manage this flow, they soon discover just how important some of these items are.”

Outbox collects and manages postal mail on a users’ behalf, enabling users to access, organize, prioritize and discard (or completely unsubscribe from) any piece of mail. Users can view their digitized mail on the internet, smartphone or tablet. And in the event you still want the original, physical copy, Outbox will return it to you.

To date, Outbox has enjoyed a successful beta phase run in Austin and San Francisco, tapping 1,200 users for the trial. According to Outbox, there are also “thousands [of prospective users] on our wait list [too].”

Even though Outbox currently relies on snail mail, the company does have a contingency plan in the event the aged service goes under.

“We are building an elegant API that will enable billers and service providers to reach our users in smarter, more efficient, and less expensive ways,” said Davis. “[The hope is that] in five years, Outbox will own the last and first mile in shipping.”

The expansion of Outbox into more cities and becoming available to additional users will occur later in the year. As it stands currently, the service costs $7.99 per month.

To find out more information about Outbox you can visit its website, follow the company on Twitter and watch the introductory video.

 

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ActiveReplay’s ‘Trace’ Looks to Take Action Sports to a Whole New Level

Trace App for Action SportsWelcome 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 ‘Trace,’ an app that enables users to track, motivate and share their action sports achievements.

If there’s a physical activity, odds are there’s an app to track and share your exercise achievements. ‘MapMyRun’ and ‘FitBit’ are popular smartphone apps that enable users to map routes, track activity, log diet and/or share performance with friends on Facebook.

Similarly, Nike+ Fuelband tracks every movement made by a person and creates goals to keep users on the go. The band itself has even become a fashion statement.

But while there are endless tracking, motivational and social apps for running or exercise, there are few—or none, to be exact—for action sports.

ActiveReplay’s ‘Trace’ is looking to change this.

“Trace is the product that we’ve always wanted,” said David Lokshin, co-founder of ActiveReplay. “People on the team grew up skating, surfing, skiing and snowboarding, and this is some of the data that we’ve always wanted [to have at our fingertips].”

The ‘Trace’ device is physically attached to a skateboard, surfboard or snowboard and connects to a smartphone app. The app is able to identify statistics like waves caught for surfers, runs and vert for skiers, tricks for skaters and a lot more. Like exercise apps, users can share achievements socially and set applicable action sports goals to improve skills.

The app isn’t public yet, but to the delight of Lokshin and the rest of the ActiveReplay family, ‘Trace’ surpassed its KickStarter goal by $11,260, raising a total of $161,260 over a 45-day span.

“[The fund-raising process] stretched the full gamut of emotions,” Lokshin said. “We hit our [KickStarter] goal, and we’re super excited to go back to building product full time.”

‘Trace’ is on-pace to be released during Summer 2014.

 

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‘Tile’ App Tracks the Stuff You’re Most Prone to Losing (And More)

Welcome 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 Tile, an app that aims to make sure you never lose anything ever again.

For many people, finding misplaced keys and wallets consumes far too much time in one’s day. In addition to it being an annoyance, losing integral personal possessions can also be extremely stressful.

“The problem of losing things has been around forever, and we felt like many people have tried to solve this without ever really being that successful,” said Nick Evans, founder and CEO of Tile. “When Bluetooth Low Energy support was released on iOS devices, we started thinking about how we could properly solve the problem [with this technology]. We invented Tile to make people’s lives easier.”

Users purchase small plastic tags — “tiles” — and attach them to anything they anticipate needing to find, whether it’s keys, wallets, remotes, or anything else. Each Tile pairs up with the accompanying iOS app, allowing users to view the location of each of his/her items on a map. Using the Tile app, one can identify the location of each misplaced item when it is within Bluetooth range (between 50-150 feet) and the last place your item was connected to the app.

For instance, if a user forgets his/her wallet at a cafe, the user can set an alarm sound on the Tile—making the lost item easy to find (if it is within Bluetooth range).

But Tile isn’t just for finding misplaced items inside your house or at a favorite coffee spot.

“One of the reasons why we used Bluetooth Low Energy for Tile, is that it allows for this sense of a Tile community,” said Evans. “The technology is able to leverage the Bluetooth connectivity of everyone in the Tile community to help you find lost items.”

If a user marks an item as “lost” on the app, other Tile users will receive an alert if your lost item is in their direct vicinity. So if someone were to steal your bike, for instance, the Tile community might be able to help you retrieve it better than the usual “missing” poster.

This sense of community also extends into how Tile was able to get up and running. Evans was able to raise $2.68 million—from almost 50,000 backers—through a crowd-funding campaign.

Some key Tile features include:

  • Never need to change or recharge a battery
  • Lasts for one year but the company will provide a new, free Tile (when you send in the old one)
  • Users can privately share Tiles with friends and family as well as find your Tiles with a friends phone by signing into your Tile account on their phone

Tile is looking to debut its app in either Winter 2013 or early 2014. Each Tile retails for $18.95 (with discounts depending on how many tiles one purchases).

You can learn more about the Tile app and pre-order tiles on its website.

 

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‘Tinder’ presents: An app to discover those around you

'Tinder' presents: An app to discover those around youWhile it’s great to make new friends, meeting people can be awkward and uncomfortable. What will you talk about? Do you share similar interests?

Now there’s an app seeking to bridge the gap between “complete stranger” and “BFF”.

Mobile app Tinder displays short profiles (which include picture, name, age, and shared friends and interests) of people near you and allows you to express interest in making a connection or not. In the app, you can set your “preferences” to be matched with males and/or females, within 2 to 100 miles of your current location (location services enabled), between the ages of 18 and 50+.

If there is mutual interest in the parties getting to know each other, then the app allows both parties to connect, while still maintaining much valued user-privacy. Tinder doesn’t reveal your last name, email, or exact location. In fact, the app doesn’t have access to any more information than your current location and what’s available on your Facebook, and it is incredibly selective about the information it pulls from your account so stalkers and trolls won’t find you.

Once both parties agree to connect, Tinder’s chat feature allows users to send messages (text-only) back-and-forth until they are ready to take the relationship offline. Users can also abandon the conversation altogether and “block” people they don’t want as new friends.

But what about fraud?

Other matchmaking programs are littered with fake accounts of Jessica Alba and Joseph Gordon-Levitt lookalikes. Tinder solves that problem by linking to your Facebook account. In a way, this legitimizes the accounts created, presuming users are using their personal Facebook account. Your name and age are taken straight from Facebook, and you choose images for your Tinder profile from your Facebook albums.

In an interview with Issie Lapowsky at Inc. magazine, Tinder’s CEO, Sean Rad, shares how the app gained initial traction and grew, “We had been picking up on college campuses, then everyone went home and told their cousins and older brothers and friends about it, and all of a sudden Tinder started growing like a virus.” 

Although Tinder is used almost exclusively as a dating tool, J.J. Colao at Forbes reports Tinder’s intention to expand into business networking. This is ambitious given Tinder’s stigma as a dating app and, of course, users’ superficial nature. But anything is possible.

Let’s hope the app’s evolution brings new possibilities to mobile users who want to meet someone new, and not just for romantic purposes.

Download Tinder for free in the iTunes Store.

 

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‘Felt’ App Could Revitalize Greeting Card Industry

Welcome 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 ‘Felt,’ an iPad app that is breathing digital life back into the greeting card industry.

Sending greeting cards in the mail has become more of a novelty than a social standard in the modern, tech-dominated world. Most people would rather send an email or e-card than take the time to pick out a physical card, somehow find a stamp and drop it in the mailbox. In fact, I even recently received a wedding invitation via Facebook.

But ‘Felt’ is making greeting cards cool again. The iPad app enables users to browse through a variety of genres, select a greeting of choice (i.e. Happy Birthday) and write (with a finger or stylus pen) a quick note—all from the comforts of your couch. But Felt then transforms the digital into the physical. A user’s final product is properly printed and sent to your provided recipient.

Felt App - Step 1

(users can swipe through a variety of card genres)

Tomer Albert, Felt’s founder, realizes there might be some competition, but that Felt could still have the upper hand.

“There are a lot of apps that mails cards, but we’re the first app that lets you hand write the message and the address on the
envelope,” Albert said. “You’re drawing your thoughts. You’re putting yourself into the message. Your handwriting is 100% uniquely yours.”

Felt App - Step 2

(with a stylus pen, users can actually use their own handwriting on the cards and change the colors too)

Albert, who created Felt when he himself was confronted with the lack of iPad greeting card apps, wanted the app to be a quality option.

“We both curate designs and create cards ourselves,” Albert said. “The card is thick and crisp and recipients can’t tell that the handwriting is printed. The writing looks completely authentic. We use Kraft envelopes and Mohawk paper, which is regarded by paper aficionados as some of the highest quality paper in the world.”

Felt App - Step 3

(users write the return and recipient address just like a normal card, but Felt takes care of the stamp and shipment)

The price point to use Felt is pretty minimal too. The app itself is free and the card and domestic postage costs $3.99 combined. Considering quality greeting card stores like Papyrus vend their “handmade” cards for upwards of $6.95, Felt’s cost appears to be reasonable. International shipping options are also in the works.

Felt is still looking towards the future and for ways to make the app more attractive to prospective users.

“We have very exciting new features planed for this year, but we don’t want to give away all of our fun surprises just yet,” Albert said. “However, we do want everyone to know that we’re continuously adding new card designs to the app.”

Felt iPad App

(cards are printed on quality paper, turning the digital experience into a physical one)

With technology always changing, it’s inevitable that apps like Felt will have to adapt. But Albert thinks people will still feel the need to personally communicate with one another.

“In five years we’d love to be the most personal, heartfelt way people communicate with whatever smart devices we’re using.”

You can watch Felt’s introductory video here and download their free app at the Apple iTunes store.

 

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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].”

 

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