Picturex is a photo app for storing and sharing pictures safely and securely. Picturex is our Telerik Featured App for April 2015 as it was built using Telerik components, especially RadControls for Windows Phone.
We interviewed André Meyer to learn what it took to build Picturex.
Picturex is an easy-to-use photo sharing app, useful for any event. The app collects all the photos from the event’s guests and saves them in a private photo album so that guests never forget those magical moments. Create a shared photo album, invite others into the private album and share your pictures. Everyone who joined the album can upload the photos they want to share, and download the ones they want to keep forever.
The idea came from a real problem some of us previously faced when enjoying our holidays with friends or family where everyone takes pictures via their smartphone. When we came back from vacation, it took weeks before we saw the others’ pictures, and sometimes it never happened. All the existing technologies for sharing and collaborating such as USBs, DVDs, Onedrive/Dropbox, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. are either too complicated for this scenario, not private enough, needed a log-in for that service or couldn’t share the photos in full quality. Some existing photo sharing apps were just too complicated, lacked a Windows Phone client or didn’t work well. This is why we created our own service – and are actively extending and improving it based on the community’s feedback.
We have been using Telerik products for a couple of years now in various projects ranging from ASP.Net, WPF, Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8. In the case of Picturex, we relied heavily on the Telerik RadControls for Windows Phone; not only are all the lists and pull-to-refresh controls done with Telerik components, we use the SlideView to have a beautiful visualization of the user’s shared pictures. Additionally, the app features a private chat between all participants of a photo album, which again relies on the messaging controls Telerik built. Finally, the overview page of all the albums has sliding tiles, which make the app look better. The use of these Telerik controls saved us a tremendous amount of time and money, guaranteed a good, native look and feel and worked very well. For our iOS and Android clients it took us a long time to re-build those controls. When we are planning and designing the implementation of a new feature, we always first check if there is a Telerik control available that we could reuse.
During the development of the Picturex clients and API there were always some minor issues we faced: many were Xamarin-specific, some resulted from some Oauth issues, others because of the fragmentation of Android, and we also had one issue with the Telerik list component. Luckily, the Telerik support is excellent, which is why we could fix the issue together with support and don’t need to wait for a fix. But overall our technical challenges were more or less what we expected from our experience on previous projects.
The Picturex app and all its basic functionality are available for free. However, some Pro features (such as highest quality images, removing a watermark, or extending the storage space) cost some Picturex-Credits (our in-app currency). With the optional registration, every user gets some free credits to test all the PRO features. Once he has used them, he can buy more Picturex-Credits with our In-App packages. This is not our only source of monetization, as we soon recognized that many users are not willing to pay for such a service. We are now working with several companies to brand our app for their internal corporate app store. They use it for example for their own events, conferences, agencies/subsidiaries/stores, meetings, etc. to exchange pictures with selected employees in private.
As we previously mentioned, we base our improvements and feature additions mostly on user feedback and requests. For example, we recently removed mandatory registration, making it optional. Many users did not want to login with one of the existing authentication providers (Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yammer) to join a PicEx. Additionally, we are re-designing the app to make all processes and steps inside the app even easier. A further step will be to add a web client where users can easily upload or download photos and start a slideshow of all photos, which is very useful on a shared screen during an event. Besides that we are currently working hard to release all the branded Picturex clients to our customers.