App Developers Can Now “Print To Walgreens;” Company Outed As Aviary’s Strategic Investor

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You may have noticed a few of your favorite mobile photo sharing apps were updated last night or this morning with a new option: “print photos to Walgreens.” It’s not a coincidence, but is rather the result of the launch of Walgreens’ new developer portal which is now allowing third-party mobile developers the ability to integrate Walgreens’ in-store services within their applications.

Launch partners for the deal include GroupShot, Kicksend, Pic Stitch, Pinweel, and StillShot. The company is also partnering with Aviary to help reach the startup’s 1,200 apps developers and 8 million consumers in order to increase adoption of the “print to Walgreens” feature.

The partnership between Aviary and Walgreens is interesting in light of Aviary’s most recent funding round. If you’ll recall, in June, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and others invested $6 million into the company. At the time, the “other strategic investors” went unnamed. But the company’s latest Form D filing includes a new board member, Abhi Dhar, currently the CTO of Walgreens’ e-commerce division. (Strategic investor spotted!)

A spokesperson for Walgreens tells us that the five mobile apps listed above are the first to implement the in-store printing technology, but the company expects the program to “grow exponentially”. Generally, statements like those are a bit off, but in this case, it’s not impossible to make that sort of claim. Developers are able to add the “print to Walgreens” function in their iOS or Android apps, using the newly introduced “QuickPrints SDK.” Given the size and scope of the photo app landscape on  the top smartphone platforms, we’re talking thousands of potential partners for Walgreens.

The introduction of Walgreens open API was made possible through a partnership with Palo Alto-based Apigee, which is providing the underlying platform for both the Walgreens Developer Portal and its API. Apigee, for those unfamiliar, is a provider of API management products and services, and works with companies like Comcast, GameSpy, TransUnion, Pearson, AccuWeather.com, Netflix, AT&T, Constant Contact, TrueCredit, and more. The company acquired mobile cloud platform Usergrid in the beginning of the year, specifically to beef up its capabilities on the mobile side of the API landscape.

Now the question remains, who wants to print out their low-quality photos from their smartphones. (Looks around, raises hand slowly). Yes, some of us do. Although it’s kind of a shame that because the smartphone is the camera you always have around, most of my memories since the iPhone’s introduction have been recorded in a less-than-stellar format. But they’re all I’ve got. And while not every photo is worth printing out, it’s nice to have “real” photos you can share with others – like baby photos for the grandparents, for example. I’ve used a service called PicPlum for this since last year, as well as the apps from Sincerely Ink, and have more recently come across an app called MoPho, which lets you print not just photos, but to mugs, mouse pads, totes and other accessories. But now more traditional consumers will have an alternative to using ship-to-home startups whose prints may be of varying quality, depending on the source, to using the photo lab from a brand name chain they already know.