Retro, an actually good photo-sharing app for BFFs, launches collaborative journals

While big social apps are optimizing for maximum engagement using algorithmic feeds and personalized content recommendations, Retro wants to go in the opposite direction: the company is launching a new feature called logs. It’s a flexible way to share photos with your favorite people and create visual records of everything that matters in your life. The functionality can therefore be similar to a shared photo album or be used to keep a private recording.

Yes I know. Photo sharing is not new. Many have tried, most have failed. Even Marissa Mayer’s recent attempt – with an app called Sunshine – has raised questions. But it’s important to pay attention to Retro given the founding team’s resume. The relatively new social app was created by Nathan Sharp and Ryan Olson, two former Instagram team members who played an important role in delivering groundbreaking features like Stories.

Focusing exclusively on the photos and videos of your loved ones, Retro is gradually rolling out features that could quickly make it a must-have for distant friends, extended families, and anyone who likes to carefully organize photos and choose the best ones. from their film.

Retro’s main feature is a way to share your most important photos from the last week with your favorite people. When you start adding photos, it creates a story of the week that your friends can view. But this only works if your social graph is a perfect replica of the most important people in your life. This is why people spend quality time together and then just throw a bunch of photos into a WhatsApp group or iMessage thread.

Retro’s answer to this use case is Journals: a flexible new way to share photos in groups. Co-founder and CEO Nathan Sharp likens the feature to a “photo-focused WhatsApp group.”

Retro, launched last summer, is still quite discreet. It is highly appreciated by product designers concerned with social mobile applications. But it has not become a mainstream application. The startup is still rolling out features in hopes of unlocking a “product-driven growth engine,” as Sharp puts it.

“The first task now is to create the ideal product for reuniting with family and friends. And then the second part is making sure your family and friends can easily access it…I think logs are a big part of it,” he told TechCrunch. “As a social app, you can’t really separate those two tasks, but what you can do is focus on features that provide high utility to the groups of people engaging them.”

You can use journals to organize photos around a particular topic. For example, you can have a family journal for each of your children so you can quickly and easily review their past photos, without the usual clutter of your photo library. It’s a way to foster this unique and individual bond.

You can also create a journal with your partner to share important moments you spent together without spamming all your friends on Retro. You can also create a journal for your recent weekend so everyone can add and share photos without necessarily adding you as a friend on the app.

Image credits: Retro

“One of my favorites is Valentine’s Day. I made one for my wife, which is just pictures of the two of us. And I went back about ten years ago – we’ve been together for ten years,” said co-founder and CTO Ryan Olson. “Now when there’s a photo of the two of us, I just add it here. And it’s fun to have that kind of living being for both of us.

Some people may even use journals for personal projects or hobbies. If you enjoy woodworking, for example, and want to track your progress, you can create a journal dedicated to furniture making with just you as the sole journal member.

“A photo journal is like a wonderful format for revisiting something, looking back, thinking about something that develops very subtly over time, but over long periods of time,” Sharp said.

The new feature could help spread the word about Retro if the startup can get people to use logs during real-world events. Such as scenarios where a host might otherwise leave disposable cameras on tables for guests to take photos to share and share later.

“If you’re trying to gather photos at an event, we’ve created this really nice QR code that you can either save to your camera roll or print out,” Sharp noted. “It’s really easy to just put in a QR code and say ‘hey, if you’re at this dinner, share all your photos.'”

There is also a viral aspect to this feature since logs can be shared outside of Retro. In the app, you can generate a public link and share it on your Instagram story or elsewhere online. There is no need to install the app to view photos. So some people could use it to share wedding photos for example.

Creating a mainstream social app involves a lot of experimentation – and reviews are one of those experiments. As people discover the app by clicking on the public links to these shared albums, it could potentially become Retro’s product-driven growth engine. Only time will tell.


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