There are a lot of different mashups of technology and startups over the past few months and years and it’s definitely the year of the API. It all starts off with an idea and then by leveraging the API of that startup, others can build their own vision of a product. It usually happens with one of the more popular startups and today, one of them happens to be Instagram. Naturally, startups are going to try and “ride their coattails” (in a good way) to find ways to improve the service or come up with a great product. Launching this week, Scan-to-gram just happens to be one of them.
Started from nothing more than a mashup of ideas during a Scan company hackathon event, Scan-to-gram is the outcome of Scan team members mashing up their popular QR code generator and Instagram in order to create a fun new way for companies and others to have a web presence and increase their following on the photo-sharing social network. Not a bad idea from the company that produced one of the top downloaded QR code scanners in the Apple marketplace. According to TechCrunch, Scan is in the business of “creating apps that extend the potential application of QR code tech…” and they’re doing a pretty interesting job of trying to make QR codes less boring and more valuable. For many people, the thought of using a QR codes probably seems a bit far-fetched–some might even speculate that they’re dead. After all, it wasn’ t as if they’re a new thing in the marketplace. The QR code was first invented in 1994 and was designed to enable tracking of vehicles during the manufacturing process. But it’s only been recently since QR codes have hit their stride, somewhat, and have become more mainstream–but there’s a long ways to go. And that’s just what Scan seems to be trying to do, but they have a long way to go.
Recent statistics show that in June 2011, there were 14 million US smartphones that scanned a QR code, but when you compare it to the entire US smartphone population (82.2 million), it’s not that impressive. But now when you look at all the emerging startups making names for themselves and getting acquired, they’re all mobile-based and rely solely on the smartphone. Take Instagram, Path, Highlight, Foursquare, Flipboard, Evernote, etc. for example–these are all mobile-based startups that people with smartphones are rapidly downloading. The camera on the smartphones have become even better too. So the environment is there eagerly awaiting for a really great startup to put it all together. Scan just managed to find the right deal–make it easy for people to find their friends and great photographers on the number one photo-sharing app. That’s what you get with Scan-to-gram.
Looks like Facebook is on a tear over the past week. Sure, no one at Facebook can really talk about the stuff that goes on behind the scene at the social network, but over the past few days, they’ve been making some definite waves that seems to be surely affecting the way people view the service and potentially their stock price. First, it was Facebook bolstering its photo capability with a monumental acquisition of leading photo service Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. Then, Facebook announced perhaps a life-saving and historic event–promoting being an organ donor. And now, it’s news that Facebook is moving its check-in feature beyond the traditional sense and making it more about introducing you to new people. Just how does the company plan on making this happen? By acquiring proximity app service Glancee.
Considered one of the latest products that could have been a “star” at this year’s South by Southwest, Glancee emerged onto the scene with some enormous potential, but also within a crowded marketplace. A couple months ago, there were nearly a dozen different of these so-called proximity applications, from market leader Highlight to others like Sonar, Banjo, Intro, EchoEcho, and several others, Glancee is probably the first such application to see an exit. Available for both iPhone and Android devices, Glancee states that it “makes it fun and safe to discover people nearby who share friends and interests with you.” Perhaps it was Glancee’s direct integration with Facebook that caused it to be appealing for an acquisition, since Glancee intended to leverage Facebook data to help you find people of interest instead of just showing you who is around you–it’s giving you some additional relevancy in helping you grow your social network.
Have you ever had to make a decision about something, but needed to talk it through with someone who could help influence your actions? We all need that “trusted” source in order to help us figure out what we want to do in our lives. In a sense, we need that mentorship to make us feel better about our decisions. But often we’re not able to find that right person who can help guide us to that right decision or maybe have an impromptu office hour session. And this is where Clarity comes into play.
Started by Dan Martell, a serial entrepreneur who recently was a co-founder of Flowtown, Clarity is aimed at helping people connect easily with those who need them the most. Using the most common device probably found on an individual, Clarity isn’t an application that you can download. No, it’s a true mobile HTML application that enables users to simply look up whoever they want, set up a scheduled meeting, and then dial them to talk about whatever they want. Sure, you might think that Clarity is just a fancy version of your telephone, but it’s so much more and it can help you find the right person you want to chat with. Say you’re having a problem trying to figure out your marketing strategy for your startup, or you’re looking to get advice on going after potential investors, or maybe you’re debating internally about whether you should make that leap of faith and start your own company. These, among others, are things that people most likely want to talk it through with someone else–someone who has been through it all, win or lose, and has the experience to help you make the decision.
What’s the hottest new place in town? Can you tell me where the coolest party is taking place? These are probably some of the questions you might be asking yourself when you’re walking around town after work or just need to find a place to chill and unwind. Sure, you could use a service like Foursquare or perhaps Path to find out where your friends are, but that only tells you where they are at the moment–there’s no information about the vibe, the crowd, what people think of the venue, etc. Often times, you’re looking for some real-time information about a particular place or venue to help “justify” why you should make an appearance.
Enter Echoer. This proximity application is the latest evolution of what location-based check-ins and GPS technology have created and is simply designed to share with you people’s thoughts and experiences provided in the real-time stream via social data. Simply put, you can use the app to check out all the buzz that’s happening around you. It’s that simple. Think of it a little bit like Highlight meets Yelp but with a much faster curation of data. What it allows you to do is share your most relevant thoughts, events, and discoveries around you. If you happen to be wandering through a city like San Francisco during any given summer night, you might find that there’s lots of talk happening at nearby AT&T Park because of the San Francisco Giants, or that there’s lots of buzz happening at the Metreon Center because of a new movie, or maybe at a nearby hotel or bar to celebrate the launch of a new startup. By simply tapping on a particular venue on the map, you should be able to pull up thoughts, photos, and other content. Once there, you can either “echo” what others are saying, thereby amplifying their message or contribute your own.
It was probably about time for Path to do it. Today, the private social network app announced that its Android app users can update their app to get a pretty cool feature on there.
That’s right, Path has now released to the world lenses to help make photos you share on the app much more stylized and glamorous. This might not seem like it’s jaw-dropping new for most people, especially the 30 million original users of the service, but this is in fact a big deal for those with Android devices. Why? Because we never had it before! Over the past few months, users like myself have been forced to snap photos using the default camera app and apply whatever limited filters existed. Sure, I could have used a vignette, distortion, depth of field or any other filter assortment, but it would have been another step removed from what I wanted to do…simply post a photo taken on Path and shared exclusively on the network. Now that’s all changed with Path giving what many people on Android have been clamoring over–we want to be able to do cool photos on Path like our iPhone brethren!