Apple reportedly acquires developer behind burst photo app SnappyCam

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2014
Apple has reportedly acquired app developer SnappyLabs, the one-man company that created SnappyCam, a popular app that allowed users to take full-resolution pictures at 20 to 30 frames per second.

SnappyCam


News of the reported purchase of SnappyLabs was relayed by Techcrunch on Saturday, which cited sources close to the matter as saying Apple recently bought the one-man operation amid bids from "most of the usual players." Apple has yet to confirm the acquisition and terms of the deal were not revealed.

SnappyLabs was founded by John Papandriopoulos, an electrical engineer who studied at the University of Melbourne. Papandriopoulos is still the only member of the SnappyLabs team, meaning he will likely be working with Apple on future camera-related projects as a result of the acquisition.

SnappyLabs' lone app, SnappyCam, allowed users to take multiple shots in quick succession with a negligible hit to image quality. The app, now pulled from the iOS App Store, boasted shooting speeds of 20 to 30 frames per second, much faster than Apple's own solution.

Papandriopoulos explained the science behind SnappyCam in a blog post, which has subsequently been taken down along with SnappyLabs' website:
First we studied the fast discrete cosine transform (DCT) algorithms...We then extended some of that research to create a new algorithm that's a good fit for the ARM NEON SIMD co-processor instruction set architecture. The final implementation comprises nearly 10,000 lines of hand-tuned assembly code, and over 20,000 lines of low-level C code. (In comparison, the SnappyCam app comprises almost 50,000 lines of Objective C code.)

JPEG compression comprises two parts: the DCT (above), and a lossless Huffman compression stage that forms a compact JPEG file. Having developed a blazing fast DCT implementation, Huffman then became a bottleneck. We innovated on that portion with tight hand-tuned assembly code that leverages special features of the ARM processor instruction set to make it as fast as possible.
Armed with the burst-photo technology and Papandriopoulos' expertise, Apple could feasibly update its Camera app to better take advantage of the latest iPhone hardware. In addition, the company may be able to extend burst shooting modes to legacy models that currently lack such functionality, which appears to be limited to the imaging sensor module used in the iPhone 5s.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 91
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,498member
    This is surprising. I would expect Apple to be knowledgable enough to create the same tech on their own. Something doesn't click. Great news for Mr. Papandriopoulos though. (yes, that was a copy/paste action)
  • Reply 2 of 91
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,508member
    This is exactly what Apple needs to be doing now. Buy up the most innovative small companies that are making the best quality apps and either continue to sell them as stand alone apps or integrate their functions into the core of iOS.
  • Reply 3 of 91
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    philboogie wrote: »
    This is surprising. I would expect Apple to be knowledgable enough to create the same tech on their own. Something doesn't click. Great news for Mr. Papandriopoulos though. (yes, that was a copy/paste action)
    I guess you could say the same thing about all the apps & small companies Google acquires ALL THE TIME.
  • Reply 4 of 91
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,498member
    rogifan wrote: »
    I guess you could say the same thing about all the apps & small companies Google acquires ALL THE TIME.

    That's true. Their employees must have the same capabilities in creating the apps that the companies/developers make that they buy. It does seem that their execution lacks, when looking at their Wave et cetera.
  • Reply 5 of 91
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,981member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    This is surprising. I would expect Apple to be knowledgable enough to create the same tech on their own. Something doesn't click. Great news for Mr. Papandriopoulos though. (yes, that was a copy/paste action)

    I'm sure Apple has the talent to do this on their own but it's about time to market and being able to integrate this tech faster.

  • Reply 6 of 91
    I suspect that it's more than fine-tuning with existing ideas, that there's a conceptual breakthrough in there. Otherwise, yes, Apple would and could simply do the same.

    For comparison, the maths underlying WiFi was developed by scientists for radioastronomy. "The Australian radio-astronomer John O'Sullivan developed a key patent used in Wi-Fi as a by-product in a CSIRO research project, "a failed experiment to detect exploding mini black holes the size of an atomic particle"." (WP) The rest is lateral thinking.
  • Reply 7 of 91
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    This does seem like something Apple would make: an intuitive GUI with really clever tech behind it, that's useful to the masses. I hope they gave him a good offer.

  • Reply 8 of 91
    smalmsmalm Posts: 657member

    Did the CEOs of both companies meet to discuss the take over? :D

  • Reply 9 of 91
    Fast Camera is faster than SnappyCam at 8MP and outputs higher quality 8MP images. If you downloaded SnappyCam before it was removed from the store, compare it to Fast Camera for yourself. Although the counter on the camera view of SnappyCam showed that it was capturing 20 to 30 8MP photos per second, when you stop and tap the thumbnail to review, over half of the images were lost (frames dropped) due to the memory buffer being full. Fast Camera never loses photos in memory or drops frames. In all of our tests, Fast Camera outperforms SnappyCam every time in both sustained speed and image quality.
  • Reply 10 of 91
    Quote:

    Fast Camera is faster than SnappyCam


     

    Then why didn't Apple buy Fast Camera instead?  Obviously Apple knows the truth.

     

    Did you try adjusting the setting in SnappyCam - it never ran out of memory for me after I configured it correctly.

     

    Does Fast Camera really achieve higher than 20-30 high quality 8MP photos per second?

  • Reply 11 of 91
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by i4software View Post



    Fast Camera is faster than SnappyCam at 8MP and outputs higher quality 8MP images. If you downloaded SnappyCam before it was removed from the store, compare it to Fast Camera for yourself. Although the counter on the camera view of SnappyCam showed that it was capturing 20 to 30 8MP photos per second, when you stop and tap the thumbnail to review, over half of the images were lost (frames dropped) due to the memory buffer being full. Fast Camera never loses photos in memory or drops frames. In all of our tests, Fast Camera outperforms SnappyCam every time in both sustained speed and image quality.

     

    So can you comment on how Fast Camera achieves the necessary throughput and compression rates?

  • Reply 12 of 91
    philboogie wrote: »
    Great news for Mr. Papandriopoulos though. (yes, that was a copy/paste action)

    Being Greek and having a similar surname I can tell you I get comments like that a lot! ;)
  • Reply 13 of 91
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,374member
    Oh what a surprise. A new poster recommends an app over some other app and said poster turns out to be the company that made the app they recommend.
    Sour grapes!
  • Reply 14 of 91

    I doubt they hired him strictly for this app. They hired him for his talent, an "acquihire".

  • Reply 15 of 91
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    This is surprising. I would expect Apple to be knowledgable enough to create the same tech on their own. Something doesn't click. Great news for Mr. Papandriopoulos though. (yes, that was a copy/paste action)

     

    Usually, a lot of features are left due to lack of man power. That happens in both small and large companies. Apple obviously acquired the company mostly because of the already formed and functioning team of high professionals. Teams are more valuable than products.

  • Reply 16 of 91

    Indeed, as an asset: the world's wealthiest company will hire the best and most promising talent to augment its operations. It may be that Dr JP.'s methodology can reduce both energy and time consumption in the Camera.app. Anything for longer battery life and snappier performance. 

  • Reply 17 of 91
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,498member
    capasicum wrote: »
    Usually, a lot of features are left due to lack of man power. That happens in both small and large companies. Apple obviously acquired the company mostly because of the already formed and functioning team of high professionals. Teams are more valuable than products.

    This is a one-man shop.
  • Reply 18 of 91
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,460member
    Am I the only one here ... that every time I used my iPhone's camera ... I always thought ....

    "Gotta study those fast discrete cosine transform algorithms! There's got to be a better way!" :D
  • Reply 19 of 91
    shardshard Posts: 96member
    Most are assuming Apple bought SnappyCam for SnappyCam, what if it is the next thing that John Papandriopoulos was working on? Some one as brilliant as he is, will most likely have started work on something else right after he finished SnappyCam.
  • Reply 20 of 91
    i4software wrote: »
    Fast Camera is faster than SnappyCam at 8MP and outputs higher quality 8MP images. If you downloaded SnappyCam before it was removed from the store, compare it to Fast Camera for yourself. Although the counter on the camera view of SnappyCam showed that it was capturing 20 to 30 8MP photos per second, when you stop and tap the thumbnail to review, over half of the images were lost (frames dropped) due to the memory buffer being full. Fast Camera never loses photos in memory or drops frames. In all of our tests, Fast Camera outperforms SnappyCam every time in both sustained speed and image quality.
    This is blatant advertising from a first poster (who actually makes the Fast Camera app) and should be taken with a grain of salt. It shouldn't even be here. It's irrelevant.

    Also, if i4software was any good, they would've been on Apple's radar, but they're not, so they weren't.
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