Shootlr lets you take a ‘someone-elsie’

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What do you call it when you have an app that lets your friends take a photo of you, using your own phone? It’s not a selfie… It’s not a portrait… Let’s call it a someone elsie.

Shootlr today launched an iOS and Android app that is attempting to take this brave new frontier of photography to the masses: an app that enables you to compel your friends to take a selfie for you, from the comfort of your smartphone.

The Shootlr app implores you to take a selfie when one of your friends ask for one.

The Shootlr app will implore you to take a selfie when one of your friends ask for one.

The app works like this: You remember that it’s been a while since you’ve seen a photo of your friend Sasha, and you send a photo request to her. A notification buzzes on Sasha’s phone; when she opens the app, a timer immediately starts its three-second countdown. At the end of the countdown it snaps her photo, then shares it with you. And, of course, you can probably expect a Shootlr request in return.

The question burning on your mind is whether or not this can become the next Instagram of Snapchat… I can see the app having a certain appeal — selfies on demand from your closest friends is undeniably an interesting pitch — there’s definitely something jarring about the concept of the app, related to being on the receiving end of a photo request.

“Is the timing of the Shootlr request inconvenient?” says Onno Spek, founder of Shootlr, touching on my main doubt about the app. “Just dismiss the notification.”

At least you can decline to have your photo taken, I suppose, but given how much people fret over getting their selfies just so, the notion of being forced to break out the stick of narcissus to share your beautiful self with the world is, well, a bit creepy.

In the app’s promo video, for example, the use case is to encourage someone to take a selfie when they’re out on a run, which… I don’t know about you, but I know that I definitely don’t look my best when Runkeeper has yet again beaten me to within a fraction of an inch of my life, dripping with sweat, wishing for a swift and merciful death.

I guess the app can be seen as a curious hybrid between taking selfies when you feel like it and replying with a photo whenever someone asks you for one on Snapchat. Nifty? I suppose, but I’m really not sure what the problem is that the company is trying to solve.