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Network World - At this point in the highly competitive mobile market, it's difficult to introduce a new app or product that is entirely unique. This was made clear during the mobile session at the DEMO Fall 2013 conference.
The first company to demonstrate was called shoto, and it featured an app described quite similarly to many that are already available – “an easy way to share your life with people who matter.” As expected, Facebook was listed among its competitors.
Given some time to explain, though, the demonstrators described a unique photo-sharing app that incorporated geo-fencing technology and automated sharing among the app’s users’ contacts located in the same area. Rather than manually uploading photos to a social network and sharing with hundreds of people who probably don’t care to look at them, shoto aims to automatically connect images taken among friends who are at the same event. Users only have to take the photos, and shoto does the sharing for them.
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Manual features are also available, such as the ability to send a photo album directly to specific contacts who may not be at an event. Privacy options are available as well, for those who may be taking photos they don’t want automatically shared.
This issue was brought up by the DEMO panelists, who inquired about the potential real-life consequences of sharing photos with unintended recipients. The shoto demonstrators acknowledged that these mistakes may happen, conceding that “the technology is not flawless,” and built in an alert system to let users know when photos are shared. The app allows users to block users and provides privacy settings that, when enacted, will prevent any other users from seeing their photos. However, neither of those solutions accounts for people who may have seen images before they’re removed.
Another challenge addressed in the panel discussion was the lack of user interaction with the app. Although shoto’s advantage is its automation and the elimination of bulky uploading processes, the company runs the risk of alienating its technology from its users.
Facebook and Instagram grew so fast because people spent so much time using them, for example. While users may see the benefit of shoto, they may not interact with the technology directly as others do with its competitors. Whether that’s a big enough issue to limit its reach in the market remains to be seen.