When Apple announced the new Apple TV, we got very excited. This would be the perfect platform for PartySnapper, the social photo wall app we'd developed for iOS. It would help solve some of the adoption barriers we saw with PartySnapper.
One App, Two Devices, Two Roles
At just a couple of dollars revenue per sale, developers have to come up with a clever way to turn the product into its own ad. Usually this is done by offering potential customers a free download and some initial content and sell them additional content in the form of premium features or additional game levels. This concept is called "freemium" and it is the most successful model for mobile apps. With PartySnapper, our idea was that party goers could use the app for free on their iPhones when shooting photos and that only the party host would pay for hosting the party. We thought a particular clever way would be to have only one app that can fill both roles: party guests would use it to shoot and submit photos and the party host would use it to host the photo wall. If a party guest liked the idea, they would already have downloaded the app and would only have to unlock the hosting part with a simple in-app purchase. We hoped this would kick off a viral effect with every party host helping to spread the app to their party guests who would then become the next wave of customers.
Apparently, this was a bit too clever. It proved difficult to explain the two different roles for the same app and that customers had to have the same app on two devices to fulfill those different roles. I should have realized this when we struggled to describe it properly on the web site and in the App Store description, but I liked the idea too much.
PhotoWall+ now comes in two apps: PhotoWall+ on the Apple TV and the free "PhotoWall+ Camera" for iOS for your photographers.
Connecting a display to an iPad or iPhone is not commonplace
Another huge adoption barrier that we underestimated: Not a lot of people have an external display connected to their iPad or even know that this is possible. And it requires an adaptor that costs 10 times as much as the app.
Fortunately, the Apple TV will be connected to an external display or projector by default.
Freemium and Education
It turns out that, as has been the case with a lot of our previous apps, educators came up with some of the more interesting use cases for PartySnapper. One teacher told us how he loves to use it in the class room to document class progress with assignments and how he is telling all the other education customers about it. This is very exciting for us as we have come to love the education market for its vibe and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, PartySnapper’s freemium model prevented teachers from purchasing the product as the Apple Volume Purchase Program for education does not work with in-app purchases.
By offering a separate, free camera app, we can now offer PhotoWall+ for purchase via the VPP.
Finally, the name
PartySnapper is a cool name. We love it very much, but industry influencers and potential customers from the event planning industry told us they didn’t like to call their events a "party". Looking for a new name, we found that a name that is more descriptive of the purpose of the app just seems to make more sense:
PhotoWall+ is the photo wall on your Apple TV.
Accessing The Photos
One new challenge we faced is the lack of local storage on Apple TV. While apps can store data on the Apple TV, tvOS may remove it from the device whenever it needs more space to store something else. With PartySnapper on the iPad, we could simply store the photos in albums in your Photo Library, on Apple TV, apps do not have access to that (yet). Until that changes, PhotoWall+ stores the photo walls and the photos in iCloud. If users want to download and share their photos, we provide a web app for that.
And it’s coming to your new Apple TV on Tuesday, Dec 8th 2015 with an introductory 48 hour sale at just $0.99 (down from the regular $4.99).