Locket, the makers of a mobile application that brings personalized news and other stories to your Android phone’s lockscreen is out today with a new lockscreen-based messaging application called ScreenPop. The new app, which grew to 15,000 users during two months of beta testing, is designed to allow anyone to send photos, doodles, emoji and more after just a quick swipe on their phone’s screen.
The startup is also announcing the close of their $3.2 million seed round, which included investment from Tyra Banks, Turner Broadcasting, Great Oaks and various N.Y.-area angel investors.
Some portion of that fundraise was previously announced, but Locket didn’t close on the round until late 2014, explains CEO Yunha Kim.
The Locket app, by way of background, began its life as a utility that put ads on Android lockscreens. Users who interacted with those ads would then earn small amounts of money every time they unlocked their phone. But the app later transitioned away from the pay-per-swipe business model to instead allow users to customize the content they received on their lockscreens, to include things like breaking news, funny pictures, or inspiring stories, for example.
Following this change, the Locket app was selected as one of the “best apps” of 2014, and has now reached around a million downloads.
The new release of ScreenPop is based on the same technology the company already developed for Locket, but it’s being utilized to appeal to a younger demographic. While Locket users are generally in their late 20’s to early 30’s, the majority of ScreenPop users are teens and young adults.
ScreenPop, the company tells us, was originally an idea the team had built at a hackathon and began to use internally. Later, they put the app into beta testing on the Google Play store under a different name to see how users would respond. The app ended up seeing good growth metrics, as users would download the app, and then invite around four friends to join them, on average. And they would send around four photos to friends per day using ScreenPop, too.
The overall idea with ScreenPop is to make it easier to communicate with friends, says Kim. “We were seeing this trend in photo sharing,” she says, referencing how apps have evolved to simplify the process of photo-sharing – going from Facebook’s still more cumbersome process to Instagram’s photos, and then Snapchat, whose app takes you directly to a camera. “By taking off the lockscreen barrier, it’s allowing people to actually send more photos. And because [the photo] goes away after you unlock the phone, people are sending more photos than we thought they would,” she adds.
As noted above, the app grew to 15,000 users during beta trials, and those users are now being prompted to transition to the new app, ScreenPop through a lockscreen notification. Already, several thousand have made the move, according to Google Play store data.
With the close of the additional round, the now 8-person team (who relocated to San Francisco from New York) is starting to think about how to port the experience to iOS. That will be a little more challenging since iOS doesn’t let you create interactive lockscreens. But Kim says the plan is to take advantage of iOS 8’s new notification system in some way, while also creating an experience that’s similarly focused on allowing users to quickly send photos and other messages.
ScreenPop for Android is a free download here on Google Play.