Sometimes the oldies are the best – and that can even extend to technology for iPhone apps. It’s certainly true for Loopcam, which was developed using tech from more than 20 years ago. Yet the app is proving a big hit with users who are creating gifs in response to each other in a way the creators had never envisaged.
Not bad for an app which was churned out in only two weeks. Swede Tor Rauden Källstigen is one of the faces behind Loopcam, and arrived in Berlin this summer before creating the app, which was launched in late July. Now it’s full steam ahead – and the rest of Loopcam’s Swedish team is set to move to the German capital this year. He told Silicon Allee about how they took some 1980s technology and turning into a modern day hit: “This idea of doing a gif animator first came up when I got the first iPhone in my hands back in 2008. Eventually, I quit my job at the advertising agency, and last summer me and a friend sat down for two weeks and made this hack, basically, that was Loopcam. We tried to build it as simply as possible. We found some old gif compression archive from back in 1989 that we messed with to get into the iPhone.
“The format is very old and the native image libraries inside the iOS don’t support the gifs, so in order to create gif animations on the phone we had to import this very, very old stuff, and sort of tweak it into the new system to get it running.”
A Gif Twitter
But run it does, and its quick rise in popularity surprised Tor, especially considering they had decided to launch the app as quickly as possible rather than wait and work on adding all the bells and whistles. He said: “We have something like 50,000 downloads now; it really took off from day one. My idea of how people were going to use it was more like going to a party and making the gifs with your friends, and publishing to your friends, but people started using it in a totally different way. They started to compete in who was doing the most creative and extraordinary ideas. I think people like the format, and its only 50 frames, so 50 frames is our 140 characters.”
And Loopcam as a gif Twitter is, Tor says, not far off the mark. “It can’t be any longer; we have this fixed speed and everybody is equal with the format. So it’s very inspiring but you don’t get scared when you see something very good, because you know you can do it too. There are not a lot of things in the way, you can just go ahead and try it.
“It’s also good for starting conversations in loops. There have turned out to be memes within the community. Some people have started making the matrix loop, someone made a hack loop. They started using hashtags in order to reply to each other. That encouraged people even more because they saw all the amazing stuff that others were doing, and got inspired and replied. There started to be conversations and we never thought we would reach that level. It’s really amazing.”
Loopcam 2 in the Works
Tor wants to continue to develop Loopcam by further encouraging users to make conversations in loops, and to build a platform around how the format works and how people are using it. They are planning a reply function similar to YouTube, where users can add their own take to something they like just by clicking the button.
In addition, Tor revealed, Loopcam 2 is in the works. “This will be the real release, because compared to what other people are launching here in Berlin, they are maybe working on it for one year, and we did the original in just two weeks.”
That will help them build their userbase, which is their main business focus initially. Later, Tor hopes to enable users to share gifs to FlipBook. “You would not only share your gifs, but you could get physical products delivered. I think that will be really cool.”
What’s in no doubt is that Loopcam is one of those little apps that ends up becoming highly addictive. You’ll find yourself trying it out wherever you go, hoping to coming up with something that looks awesome. But believe me – it’s not that easy!
You can now check out some of the best gifs from New Year’s Eve!