A new mobile app for iPhone called Canvsly wants to encourage parents to photograph, save and share their children’s artwork by snapping pictures of it with their phone. Yes, just like direct competitor Artkive, which has caught the attention of more than a few mommy bloggers already. But this latest entrant has a slightly different take on the whole experience, as it also incentivizes the activity of saving art by offering users real and virtual rewards as they hit certain milestones.
Much like Artkive, the premise of Canvsly is that parents who feel guilty over trashing junior’s fingerpaint creations can assuage those feelings by turning them into long-lasting digital memories. Also like Artkive, you can create profiles for the different children in the household, and build galleries of their work, where the art is organized for you.
Explains founder Amit Murumkar, a technology consultant who has dabbled with startups in the past, he was inspired to build this app after having been something of an artist himself during his childhood. “I won a lot of school-level competitions, but I don’t have a single piece of art from then today,” he says.
As an adult now, he understands that it’s just not possible to save everything forever. But as the parent of a three-year old, he also wants to ensure that her memories aren’t as casually discarded.
While Artkive already exists to serve the same demographic he’s currently targeting with Canvsly, there are a few notable differences between the apps. Canvsly, for instance, is designed to be a more social experience, where family members and friends can keep an eye on the shared activity feed and then comment or like (called a “high-five”) the art that’s posted.
Over time, members are rewarded for their continual usage of the app, with milestones directed at both the parents and the kids (“artist of the month” for submitting the most art, or the most “high-fived” art, for example). These come in the form of virtual awards, like badges, as well as real-world rewards through the integration of Kiip’s rewards system. The app, in fact, was a 2013 Kiip Build Fund Creation winner. (Kiip, for those unfamiliar, allows app developers to reward users with free product samples, gift cards, mp3 downloads, and more, for hitting certain milestones or achievements in the app.)
In addition, while Artkive recently introduced photo book creation capabilities into its app, Canvsly offers a different line up of products. Instead of books, which it may add later, it instead offers 25 different gifts and keepsakes, including magnets, mousepads, coffee mugs, water bottles, postcards, or, for the holidays, ornaments.
The app was only pushed to the App Store around a week ago and has done little marketing outside of some Facebook ads since, so it doesn’t have much traction to speak of at this time. But the founder has been out and about, talking it up at local preschools and art classes, in hopes of gaining some word-of-mouth action.
As a parent of a three-year old myself, I’ve given both these apps a whirl. But I have the same complaint with Canvsly as I did with ArtKive: there are just too many steps to getting a single piece of art uploaded and saved.
Canvsly, for instance, forces you to enter a caption, and god knows what some of my kid’s work is even a picture of at this point. Plus, both apps should let users import older photos from the Camera Roll, then organize them appropriately based on the timestamp. After all, the default way many moms (and dads) save kids’ artwork today is with an iPhone photo that later gets uploaded to a more generalized cloud photos site, like Facebook, Google+, Flickr or Shutterfly. That’s still a far quicker and easier process, and pressed for time, the value-add of a niche app like either of these may not be enough to keep users engaged – whether there are rewards or not.
Based in Princeton, New Jersey, Canvsly is a bootstrapped team of one. You can download the app from iTunes here.