Starmatic iPhone App Review: Paying Tribute to the Legendary Kodak Starmatic Brownie Camera
The first week of September was barely over, and it was evident that a variety of experts associated with the mobile photography business, development and reporting communities had been biding their time to solidify a deal, make a move and be recognized.
As Facebook officially closed the Instagram deal, opinions continued to surface regarding the future of photography while millions of people (and counting) ceaselessly proceeded to capture and share their lives, interests and pursuits through their mobile devices. Amidst a saturation of circulated imagery, artists and photographers have had to grapple with unfamiliar strategies to get their work noticed, while established and start-up enterprises alike try to adopt a loyal user base by launching enticing editing tools and social platforms.
Understandably, Instagram has formulated many of the expected standards in the mobile photography market by instilling user behaviors like how to interact, navigate, collaborate, capture and edit. Can an established or start-up enterprise separate itself from IG’s shadow? Instagram isn’t perfect and there will always be consumer desires to address. By integrating emotive qualities and adhering to clean, intuitive design principles, breakthroughs often occur and take the world by surprise.
“I’ve always been interested in trying to understand people,” lectured Bill Moggridge, an industrial designer and educator who passed away on September 10. “I think that’s part of design.”
Days prior to the September 7th release of EyeEm’s progressively enhanced Version 3, the Starmatic iPhone app debuted proclaiming itself as “a new visual and social experience by putting picture and user experience quality center stage, while simultaneously modeling a much beloved toy camera from Eastman Kodak made during the late 1950s.”
Upon opening the app for the first time, there is an immediate sense that the Starmatic team not only understood the niche benefits of reviving a legendary brand, they utilized their various backgrounds in design, fashion, photography, advertising and previous business pursuits to create a handheld, interactive product that is visually appealing and tempts exploration.
Starmatic incorporates an off canvas global navigation approach that gives a user access to his or her Profile name; My Feeds, which is a stream that showcases the current images of accounts a user follows; a self-explanatory Popular stream; a list of posts from Nearby photographers; a Notifications stream that indicates follows, likes, and comments from fellow users; and efficient access to the Camera.
The universal Settings icon (top right) gives a user the ability to customize his or her Profile screen. In addition to uploading a Profile thumbnail image, a user can extend their visual presence by including a Profile wallpaper. Engaging colors and the incorporation of adequate white space enhances user interaction and readability. A nice additional feature is the scrolling navigational list of a user’s “favorite photos”, or “most liked photos”.
Auser can “Search for anything…” on the Discover screen. Highly visible call outs of up-to-the-minute Trending tags and a list of Starmatic’s Suggested Users are available for users to dig deep into the app’s photographic content.
Just as the off canvas navigation system seems to be surfacing as an emerging feature is app creation, Starmatic’s team also incorporated a popular functional vertical scrolling menu that presents thumbnail representations of photographs beautifully and efficiently.
A common request from many avid Instagram users has been to incorporate an interactive swiping or flipping component that utilizes the entire screen in order to quickly browse a feed. Starmatic makes this a reality by giving it’s users the ability to horizontally “page” through an array of feeds with ease.
The camera screen is very simple to use and depends on intuitive iconic representations to inform the user. Additionally, the millions of Instagram users have always been limited to the “classic” 1:1 square crop when importing photos from their camera roll. Starmatic has incorporated a free format system that enables a user to Move and Resize images of all dimensions to fit within it’s square view port.
Starmatic includes a roll of 16 Starmacolor stylish filters, each adding a “Kodak Brownie 60’s” look that was synonymous with the actual toy camera. A user can choose to filter their photos with anything from the classic “C(ross)-Process” and “B&W (Black and White)” options to the vintage “Oldsun”, “Botan” and “Holga” treatments. All of the filters look accurate, distinguished and original. The horizontal scrolling navigation that presents the filters to a user is fun to use and integrates perfectly into the interface.
Q/A with Jean-Philippe Evrot, Director and Co-founder of Starmatic
Jean-Philippe Evrot is a consumer experience expert.
After interning for an advertising agency, his talent for mixing the best of fashion, design, photography and new technologies was noticed by Colette (recognized as one of the coolest concept store in Paris) who made him responsible for trends and visualizations. This position started Evrot on a journey around the world of high streets, building and developing fresh new luxury stores ahead of the competition along the way.
As an Apple fan, and a big collector of fashion photography, Evrot sees Starmatic as an opportunity to propose an innovative user experience, and to build a photography community who can express and share creative talent.
When Jean-Philippe is not working hard on Starmatic and debugging, he enjoys spending time with his best mates and playing poker.
N: Nicholas J-P: Jean-Philippe
N: What have the developers of Starmatic done to separate themselves in an increasingly competitive, saturated mobile photography market?
J-P: First, yes, the mobile market looks kind of saturated, but we do believe that there is still possibilities for a new entrant and it doesn’t mean to suddenly bring something totally new in terms of technology.
As huge photography fans, we were not satisfied in the actual offer of available photo sharing apps and that’s one the reason why we decided to develop Starmatic.
While developing the app, we were always focused on “photo first”.
Starmatic is not really here to compete with Instagram but to offer an alternative to iPhoneographers wishing to find themselves in a community corresponding more to their expectations and standards. However the app is not limited to the best iPhonegraphers, but to everyone willing to express their photographic talent and to find inspiration from other users.
N: How would you rate the overall user experience of the app? Is it easy to use? Easy to collaborate? Is it intuitive to navigate?
J-P: We just launched Starmatic and we know that we have still a lot to do to progress, to improve the app. We have been really focusing on design and UI to try to bring a similar experience of looking at a beautiful magazine or photo book by adding some simple but unusual gestures like the “double tap” gesture on the top bar when you are far in the app and want to go back to first screen and menu
N: Do you see the launch of Starmatic and EyeEm’s progressive v3.0 disrupting or making a dent in Instagram’s market?
J-P: I don’t think it is about disrupting but more to bring a different approach, philosophy related to mobile photography.
EyeEm is more (as they said) “about discovering places and things we like through photos”. Starmatic is just about editing, posting and discovering amazing photos.
We know it can be difficult to control a community and to manage content. In our Popular section, for example, we will always find a way to show only great content and not to end up in cute girls or cats feed.
N: What has Starmatic shown with this launch that could entice it’s user base to spend more time on this app than others?
J-P: Even if we are still at an earlier stage for us, we think that people can discover great photos easily, not only through the Popular Feed, but through Discovery Feeds. A profile is not limited to its own photos but to show it’s favorites taken from others.
We are already working on a very simple and intuitive discovery tool that will help people find and see photos corresponding to their interests, and we hope it will make a big difference, but the app will remain simple and digestible. Some principles that many photo sharing apps forgot include offering soo many options and features that users get lost and see nothing. Less is always more, especially visually.
In terms of taking photos, we will add a few editing options in the camera and more films with different filters. Each time filters will be developed within the same scheme of the film. For example we are working on a black&white film that will include between 8-10 different B&W options, and we think it will be an amazing film for people fond of B&W.
N: As Instagram’s popularity continues to grow, so does the frequent analysis of it’s role in the future of photography : In an Age of Likes, Commonplace Images Prevail : and parodies (above) have been created to stereotype it’s user base. Can new photo sharing platforms bring more legitimacy to the medium’s artistic and innovative capabilities? What has Starmatic done to promote the medium?
J-P: Today, everyone can be a photographer, and mobile photography has increased this fact. For us, accessibility is not a bad thing knowing that everyone can not be a good photographer despite editing and the filters they can add.
The camera will never make the eye. It was true when we went from film to digital cameras, and still holds true as we go from digital to mobile.
We will ensure our philosophy and our goal is not to get the biggest mobile photography community, but to build the most beautiful community. We will try as hard as we can to inform people if we think they are not in line with the philosophy we have.
This will happen, and through the help of our community, we believe that a great app is always made by a great community.