I’m excited for the future of one small app that very few people have heard about. You know, one of those apps that just makes you deeply excited for the prospects of its future. You want everyone to use it right now and you want them to love it as much as you do.
This doesn’t happen to me often, and very rarely do I feel I have to share apps in such a public way, but this one is special. I’d like to introduce you to my new favourite app: Lightt. It’s a very simple concept, and, sure you can dismiss it as just another knock-off, but I can assure you, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of this fantastically simple moment-sharing app. The idea began around the summer of 2011. The team behind the project started with the idea of capturing a picture of your face every day of the year, then transforming this into a single video. When playing with the concept, they realised that animations of photos of faces, and other moments of life, are very powerful. This was what sparked the idea for Lightt.
Lightt lets you capture ten-second bursts of photos and share them with your friends. (Isn’t that beautiful; the one sentence description of a service that has proven to be so powerful in the case of Twitter and so many others.) The best part of this is that it adds another dimension to your photos. Now you’re not sharing a snapshot of an event, a faux experience on show for camera: you’re sharing a full portion of it in all its original, sequential glory. This format seems to produce surprisingly real-to-life representations of the events in our lives.
Not only does Lightt let you create your own custom stream of Highlights from your life but it also allows you to see what others are sharing in real-time. What could be better? It is by far the best way to connect to your friends to see what they are up to at any one time, wherever they are. However, using the mechanics behind Highlights is not the best way of describing them. Let’s leave that behind and use a metaphor. I think the most accurate way of describing the experience that Lightt provides is that it’s like having a personal, always-accessible film-reel with all of yours and your friends’ best moments being updated live from wherever they are, providing new perspectives on the important events in life.
Once you’ve captured a Highlight (comprised of moments, a ten-seconds series of images) which is as simple as tapping a single button, you have the option to edit and mix your Highlight. You can add in more moments or choose to record them continuously to get the bigger picture of an event and change the order of these moments until your heart’s content. Once you’re ready you can caption the moment, choose to share to Facebook or Twitter (or neither) then share with the world or stash the moment away in your private channel. Publishing happens almost immediately as photos are streamed live to the cloud where they are held until you share them or discard them.
With it being so easy to capture Highlights and share them quickly, it’s important that Lightt provides a fluid and fast viewing experience too. This is, in fact, the biggest design challenge for the Lightt team, according to President, Pamela Kramer. She explains that the main goal is to present Highlights in a way that makes them unique to the viewer, and the perfect way to do this with such a diverse piece of content – a “bundle of images” – is a needle hiding in a haystack. With all the work the team is doing on making the viewing experience as responsive and fast as possible, viewing streams is a pleasure. When you enter the app, you can choose between Happening Now and Featured streams. Each view gives you a full-width square of Highlights (there isn’t even a border around the Highlight to distract you) and a film-reel-like scrubber for seeing what’s up next. To scrub through Highlights, you can swipe left or right anywhere on the screen, then just watch as the world rewinds or fast-forwards in comical fashion. Browsing is simple. So, so simple.
The issue of making streams unique and relevant is one which extends to the data each user is presented as well. We’ve all heard that 2013 is the year of ‘Big Data’, and whether you agree with the term or not, you have to agree that Lightt is an ideal representation of Big Data applied to photography and recording the moments of our lives. With so much data, so many Highlights, being shared on Lightt, an important focus of the team behind the app in the future will surely be organising this data, promoting the important moments of people’s lives and making them searchable. What has Tom seen in coffee shops in Downtown San Francisco recently? This the level of detail is what I would expect from Big Data solutions in the future. Searches should be smart and use the data about everything from our friends to the places we’ve been, to the important anniversaries and events in our lives. Lightt is taking the first step towards this by including geo-location data and compass data in Highlights, adding some context. Add to this social information and you have a powerful system for reviewing the best memories of your life. Features such as this are what the Lightt team have expressed they are interested in pursuing in the future.
As well as the future of data on Lightt, the future of the software as a whole is very interesting. For now, it is available on iOS. The experience on iPhone, iPod Touch (which works well thanks to the app’s offline Highlight saving) and iPad is the company’s “number one focus”. That they have included the iPad in this list may hint that there will be an iPad-optimised version of the app coming in the near future, making the experience on the larger screen, and the iPad Mini, even better. Lightt’s President also highlighted the company’s plans to expand to other platforms in the future: “You can expect to see us expand to other platforms but we aren’t ready to announce anything yet.” With an app such as this, I personally would love to see an Android version of the app. With the large user base of Android, many more perspectives of events could be captured making the experience even more complete. With the future in mind, we shouldn’t discard the possibility of Lightt being made available on even more unique form factors. One word: Glass. Can you imagine what it would be like to have Lightt available not just at your fingertips, but at your… eye-tips? That truly would be a revolutionary combination for sharing and saving memories.
When it comes to the business model of Lightt, you have nothing to worry about. The company has received funding from several backers and doesn’t plan to change this experience for users. The app is free on the App Store right now and will continue to be so with all current features. The company is looking to make the experience as good as possible on current devices and has made a promise to focus on its users, and may look to provide extra add-ons in the future. As Alex, co-founder of Lightt, says, “Lightt is the future.”
I couldn’t encourage you more wholeheartedly to try Lightt out. It’s free in the App Store right now, so go and grab it and start storing those memories!