Snaplay Wants To Be The ‘Shazam For Images’, Uses Reverse Image Search To Find Related Music & Videos

Can’t be bothered to type something you want to search for? Snaplay is a reverse image search app that lets you snap a photo of a piece of media to retrieve associated music and videos which can then be viewed within the app. Its creators, London developer D&A, describe it as a ‘Shazam for images’. The app has been in beta testing since May, with some 1,800 users, and has just exited beta for a full public launch.

The basic idea is to snap a photo of a slice of media that takes your fancy — whether that’s a film poster, an advert or an album cover — and have the app retrieve related media content. It’s basically a QR code without the ugly QR code.

On the music side, Snaplay can integrate with Spotify if you have it on your phone, or grab and play songs you have stored locally on your device. For videos it integrates with YouTube. Co-founder Joe Randall-Cutler says they’re also looking at adding additional ‘plugins’ for the future, including audiobooks on audible, or kindle books.

Snaplay iPhone 5 - 2

The target for the app is tech savvy 18-35s with an interest in design, music, video or film, he says, while initial target markets are the U.S., U.K. and Japan.

“The core idea behind Snaplay is that it is a music and video player, rather than a traditional search engine,” he explains via email. “A way to seamlessly jump from an image that has interested you in your offline environment, to associated music and video in the online world. We are interested in the way people find and enjoy art and culture on their devices, and want the app to be a simple, focussed and distraction free way to do that.”

The reverse image search algorithm is by no means perfect — on one occasion when I tried it it retrieved a YouTube video of Selena Gomez when I snapped a photo of Psy, for instance — but Randall-Cutler says the algorithm they use to filter results is something they are “constantly playing with”. They also plan to get users to help with honing results by hosting their own image database and allowing users to input a title for an image that brings up no result. That title would then be associated in the database for all future users.

While there are other more general reverse image search apps around, Randall-Cutler says Snaplay differentiates itself by focusing specifically on locating “dynamic content like Music and Video”. “All the rest offer a wide range of results, requiring heavier sifting and a much larger range of options,” he adds.

Currently, Snaplay is being monetised via display ads within the (free) app. There’s also an in-app upgrade which removes ads and lets users save all their Snaps/Plays. The developers plans to add a b2b revenue stream in future — by allowing publishers to buy the top hit for their published imagery.