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Group Photo Sharing Is A Fustercluck, But It Doesn’t Have To Be With Cluster

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Mobile app launches to enable users to quickly and easily share photos with one another. Yes, it’s another one of those stories.

So the app this time is called Cluster, and it is focused on sharing photos with one’s friends and family after a shared experience. Just like its namesake, the idea behind the app is to create a “cluster” of photos, and then invite friends to join. The initial user sets a time range and location for photos, and then can upload some of his or her own.

When users that have been invited check out the cluster, they will be able to see all the photos that have been submitted before them. They will also be prompted to upload their own photos to the group, if they have some that were taken within the same time and date proximity. And that’s where the beauty of Cluster lies — in having the app automatically suggest photos that were probably taken at the same event. Those users can then invite their own friends to participate so that no one gets left out.

screen-clustersThe focus of the app is on helping people exchange photos with friends and family after participating in certain events together. Like say, a vacation together, or a family reunion… or maybe a big tech event like the Crunchies. In fact, that is exactly the use case that was proposed and us lucky tech reporters got to play with when we got preview versions of the app.

From my limited testing, it worked great, except for one thing — I didn’t have any photos at any of the events I was asked to share in. Well, I had one lonely photo that could be submitted to one event that I had attended with other people (surprisingly it wasn’t at the Crunchies), but it was kind of a crappy photo that I didn’t want to add. So maybe the app isn’t for me.

BUT! For those who have lots of shared experiences, it seems to work just fine.

Anyway, with a huge number of apps aiming to manage group photos already on the market or already defunct, it’s hard to believe people are still making them. There was Divvyshot, Kicksend, and PicPlum — and those were just a few of the Y Combinator companies to try to tackle the problem. And then there was the spectacular flameout known as Color, which tried to make photo-sharing synchronous and real-time.

screen-clusterJust last week, we got two apps grouping photos socially and mobilely: Albumatic launched its social photo-album app, and let’s not forget about Highlight, which just introduced its own location- and event-based photo upload feature.

Even so, there are still some courageous souls willing to make photo-groupingclustering among groups a reality. Cluster was created by Onesheet and Tiplist founder Brenden Mulligan, along with ex-Google/YouTube developer Taylor Hughes.

Well aware that this is a hard problem to solve — but one that no one has quite cracked yet — Mulligan told me that he’s trying to build a sort of GroupMe for photos, a place where groups can easily share their memories.

But unlike some other apps out there, Cluster isn’t looking to allow users to share in real-time. Instead of taking photos and instantly uploading them, the idea behind Cluster is that users who are spending time together will actually have a good time, with maybe one or two taking photos, which can then be added and viewed by the entire group later. This also has the convenient side effect that users aren’t all checking the photos that were just taken by others.

(You hear me Silicon Valley? The app works so that you won’t be looking at your phones all at once! You might even be forced to, you know, have a good time.)

While Cluster has gone through an invite-only beta over the last few weeks and months, it’s becoming generally available on the Apple App Store, for all those who wish to download it. Once that’s done, users will be able to login with Facebook connect, find their friends, and invite them to all the clusters they want.