Last week the former Yobongo team (now at Mixbook) announced their plan to launch an iPhone app for building photobooks, but today a company called Keepsy has beaten them to the punch with an app of their own. Like Mixboook’s forthcoming Mosaic app, the Keepsy app aims to deliver a quick utility which will allow its users to build photobooks in just minutes. But it’s also offering a few other features related to photos and photo-sharing, such as peer-to-peer sharing of “group” photo sets.
The company, already available as a desktop site with 100,000 users, was founded in 2010 by former SimplyHired and AtWeb founder Peter Weck, Kai Zhao and Blake Williams, who previously worked at Topix, PayPal, AOL and Apple. Williams tells me that, with the app, the team wanted to see if it would be possible to create an attractive photobook using a mobile platform. “Though several big players like Shutterfly and Blurb have mobile clients, none of them allow you to build a book directly from your mobile device,” he says. “But in our testing, we found that a simple book builder is not enough to keep focus and interest in the app. So we also decided to address a frustration we had in looking at our iPhone camera rolls and having no way to browse or organize the pics.” (Words of warning for Mosaic – photobooks alone are not enough?)
The app automatically organizes your photos into albums and a universal sharing feature allows you to share an album with others – even those who don’t have the app installed on their phone or who want to view the album on the web. Recipients can then choose to print out the gallery themselves as either a book or calendar, if they choose. This way, the app is not just about photobooks – it’s also a utility for sharing. Another mechanism designed to increase user engagement are “Photo Projects” that will pop-up each Thursday in order to give users something fun to do with their cameras (e.g. “take a picture of your lunch”). These will also include tips on how to take better photos, among other things.
By offering album sharing, Keepsy (like Batch, Popset, KickSend and more) is addressing one of the problems of photo-sharing on the iPhone. That is, the most photos you can share in any one email is five, and if you have an entire album of photos from an event, it’s even harder to share. In addition, the Keepsy app is also helping the company address one of the demands from its current customer base who want an easy way to print out their Instagram photos via an app. (Apparently those folks don’t know there are already apps out there for this, like MoPho, for example). Williams says that Instagram prints are now around 40% of Keepsy’s web orders, so including that feature in the mobile experience makes sense.
Keepsy is entirely angel funded ($1.3M), and investors include James Hong, Tim Connors from PivotNorth Capital, and Dave McClure. You can download the app here on iTunes.