With Facebook's reported plans for Instagram (advertising), many of its users have been looking for alternative photo sharing social networks to move to, so in this post, I'm going to take a brief look at just one of the alternatives, Starmatic, that recently won the FWA Mobile Award for cutting edge design. Now I should point out at this stage, that there are a number of alternatives, which include EyeEm, tadaa and of course the granddaddy of them all, Flickr, and you should also be aware that I am involved with the Starmatic team on an advisory basis, so some of you may not want to read past this point, but for those who do, then I will be as impartial as I can.
Starmatic has been created by a small French startup company, and is all about "iPhoneography" and "mobile photo" sharing, and who at time of writing have funded all the development themselves, which makes their achievements to-date very impressive, when you consider app development and storage costs.
When looking for a name for their app, one of the team members came across an old Kodak camera. Not knowing what it was, they did a quick online search and discovered it was from the famous Box Brownie range, and was called a Starmatic, and so the name was chosen, the app had a direction, and an old camera was reborn for todays digital world.
So, now you know a little bit about the apps background, lets take a look at the app itself. Once installed, launched and signed in/up to, you are presented with a nice simple and clean looking interface, that has links to your profile page, your feeds, featured photographers, photos captured and shared around you, an option to discover new images and photographers, as well as a button to launch the built-in camera app.
Starmatic features, a quick look:
- Profile: This has a really cool feature, where in addition to your bio, showing the number of photos you've uploaded/shared, the number of followers you have, and the number of people you are following, you can also personalise the header of your profile page with one of your photos. This is also the place where you can link Starmatic to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as use their new import tool, to import all your Instagram photos.
- My Feeds: This, as the name suggests is the place you see all the images shared by the people you are following, and like all social photo sharing networks, is the place you can like, comment on and/or share photos with the wider world. Now there is a feature here that I've not seen elsewhere, and that is the ability to "Repost" an image to your feed, making it is a great way to spread/share somebody else’s work.
- Featured: This section is curated by the Starmatic team, and shows the images they like (kind of like 500px editors choice), so no one can make it to the featured page, just by getting liked!
- Discover: Again, curated by the Starmatic team, this sections offers suggested members to follow, trending hash tags, as well as offering you the options to do your own searches and/or discoveries.
- Nearby: This simply shows any photos taken and share based on your current location.
- Notifications: This shows you who's following you, liked your photos, or more importantly, interacted with you, by leaving a comment.
- The Camera: In keeping with the original Starmatic, the camera part of the app natively shoots square format photos, however you can choose to import photos from the camera roll, which unlike Instagram, lets you natively import, filter and share full-frame photos. When you've taken or imported, and before sharing, you can auto-enhance, add some blur, or apply a filter to your image. The filters, which have all been uniquely created by one of the team (no off the shelf filter packages here), offer a much wider range off effects than those found in Instagram, and in my opinion are much nicer. Once you've enhanced and filtered your photo, it's time to title it, add a comment about it, and then save and share.
So, what's my view on Starmatic? With my bloggers hat on (not my Starmatic one), here are my likes and dislikes.
- The user interface, as it offers quick and easy access to all the apps features.
- The curated sections. For me this cuts out all the crap, and no matter how many teens flood the system, their likes will not get them liked.
- The profile page, its unique and personalised.
- The ability to import/share full-frame images.
- The filter effects are some of the best I've seen in a free photo sharing app, but it's a shame they don't save at full-res (see dislikes below)
- Auto creation of Starmatic album in camera roll.
- Instagram import tool.
- No full-res camera roll saves (so far).
- No ability to block followers.
Overall Starmatic is a solid performer, with a promising and growing community, that meets different demands, and whilst it will be compared with Instagram, EyeEm and tadaa, it's like comparing a mild cheese with a blue cheese, they're both cheeses, but they cater for different tastes.
App Store Link: Starmatic; Price: FREE