Lightbox, the beautifully designed social photo app for Android backed by $1.2 million in seed funding from Index, Accel, SV Angel, 500 Startups, and others, is today launching a revamped web interface that’s like a lazy man’s Tumblr. As with the hot blogging startup Tumblr, the idea with Lightbox’s new photo journal feature is to provide a stream of updates others can follow, share, like and comment on.
For all its simplicity, Tumblr still involves the set up of a blog and mostly manual updates. Automatic posting of content requires additional configuration or the use of third-party tools. But with today’s Lightbox update, all users get their own Tumblr-esque photo blog, no extra effort required.
Previously, Lightbox users were given a page for their public photos at a custom URL (format: your-username.lightbox.com), but the layout involved pages of thumbnails to click through. Today, that URL will now become a photo blog, where photos are automatically organized into albums for you. To accomplish this, Lightbox looks at the timestamp associated with the photos taken, enabling the service to group photos together appropriately. The end result is an automatically created photo blog with an attractive layout which ends up feeling very much like Tumblr. Here’s an example. And here’s another.
Users are given a “follow” button next to which their social stats display, including the number of photos posted, number of followers and the number of people they’re following in return. When you hover over one of the photos, you can quickly click a heart button to “like” it. You can view these favorites later on from your profile section. On an individual photo’s page, you can comment, tweet, share to Facebook or Google+. The entire post itself can be socially shared as well.
Lightbox has been an interesting company to watch, given its focus on building for Android first. Despite the mobile platform’s large market share, it’s still rare to see companies choosing Android over iOS for their debut. But that’s where Lightbox’s creators, Thai Tran and Nilesh Patel, see a market opportunity.
So far, the company seems to be proving there is a case for well-designed apps on Android (And it’s not the only one). Lightbox has now reached nearly 1 million downloads in less than six months. Going forward, the focus will be on both Android and HTML5. For example, the new Lightbox website and photo blogs are optimized for HTML5 web browsers, including Safari on the iPhone and iPad.
Lightbox’s update was submitted to the Android Market this morning, and the rollout to all of Google’s servers should complete by 9 AM PST today. You can download the Android app here.
Lightbox develops consumer mobile apps, initially focusing on pushing the envelope for user experience on the Android platform. Their first product is Lightbox Photos which replaces the Android camera app. It syncs the photos on your phone with your social networks and provides cloud hosting of your photos on Lightbox.com. Lightbox’s team was acqui-hired by Facebook.