Apple acquires photography startup SnappyLabs

Over the past 18 months, Apple has been snatching up companies at a record pace. The most recent acquisition comes in the form of a photography startup called SnappyLabs.

Historically, Apple has never been the most acquisition-hungry company. Over the past 18 months, however, Apple has been snatching up companies at a record pace. The most recent acquisition comes in the form of a photography startup called SnappyLabs.

News of the acquisition was first reported by TechCrunch, which notes that the startup was founded and run entirely by a lone individual, an electrical engineering PhD named John Papandriopoulos who "invented a way to make the iPhone’s camera take full-resolution photos at 20 to 30 frames per second — significantly faster than Apple’s native iPhone camera."

Indeed, Apple over the past few years has devoted quite a bit of its engineering resources towards improving camera functionality on the iPhone. That said, it's hardly a surprise that Apple typically devotes a good bit of time during its iPhone unveilings focusing on its annual camera improvements.

But based on Papandriopoulos’ scientific breakthroughs in photography technology, it’s not hard to see why Apple would want to bring him in to help improve their cameras. The stragic acquisition of an extremely lean, hard technology-focused team (of one) fits with Apple’s MO. It typically buys smaller teams to work on specific products rather than buying big staffs and trying to blend them in across the company.

With the acquisition seemingly complete, it stands to reason that Apple will integrate the technology into the next iteration of iOS.

Lastly, while the SnappyLabs website is now all but bare, a cached version of the website points us to this press release from this past September.

San Francisco, Calif. – SnappyCam, the fastest smartphone camera app on Earth, today gets a major speed boost with support for 60 pictures/seccontinuous shooting at 1 Mpx on eligible iOS 7 devices, including the iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5G, and iPad Mini.

This follows the official launch today of iOS 7 and the iPhone 5S, capable of 10 pictures/sec “Burst Mode” continuous shooting at 8 Mpx.

“Considering that SnappyCam already shoots up to 20 pictures/sec at 8 Mpx on the previous generation iPhone 5, and 12 pictures/sec on the iPhone 4S, it is then remarkable what we’ve achieved to date in software alone,” said John Papandriopoulos, who developed the image signal processing engine in SnappyCam and holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering.

Previously 60 pictures/sec shooting was limited to the iPhone 4S running iOS 5.

Other improvements included in the SnappyCam 3.1.0 update include:

  • Animated GIF and MPEG-4 video Living Photo export
  • Separate focus/exposure controls for eligible devices
  • One-tap export to the Camera Roll
  • Longer continuous shooting and crash protection with adaptive photo buffering
  • Low light boost support for eligible devices
  • Full sensor capture at 5Mpx on iPhone 4

As great as the current camera on the iPhone is, it's nice to see Apple isn't resting on its laurels and is taking moves to take its functionality to new highs.

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