Beamr Launches to Apply Photo Compression Technology to iPhone Photo-Sharing

When it comes to sharing iPhone photos, there are no shortage of storage and sharing tools, from Dropbox and Box to apps like Everyme and Batch. Today Tel Aviv-based media technology startup ICVT is adding to the photo-sharing landscape with Beamr, an iPhone app that lets users create and share photo collections, or magazines, via Twitter, Facebook or email.

Despite solving for a common problem, how to share photo collections with friends privately or via social networks, the company has some unique technology backing it up. ICVT is also behind the JPEGmini for Mac app, which CTO Dror Gill and CEO Sharon Carmel launched in May. It aims to free up space by replacing iPhoto images with JPEGmini versions, which are three to five times smaller than the original.

The company’s patent-pending core technology uses a quality measure to compress photos, specifically for JPEG files using JPEGmini, but now for the iPhone with the launch of Beamr. It means that users can compress the file size of images without compromising on resolution or quality. “Our technology can tell when an image will look the same to another image, to the eyes of a human viewer, and when there will be visible differences,” Dror said in an interview. “Using this quality measure, we can compress an image to the maximum extent possible before any such problems are visible in the image.”

Unlike other photo-sharing apps like Instagram or Facebook, the goal of Beamr is to let people share collections of photos without compromising the original resolution. After downloading Beamr and giving it access to the iPhone’s photo library, users can select as many photos as they want to put in a collection, or magazine. After selecting photos, users can customize the magazine’s cover photo and add details like the title, date, and photography credit.

Once the “issue” is created, users can share a link via email, Facebook, or Twitter, and users can download single photos, or the whole magazine. Anyone can create and share magazines or download photos from a magazine without signing up for an account. Magazines display differently depending on where the recipient views it, for example displaying more images if someone views on a desktop, and less if on a mobile device.

Gill said that while the goal of ICVT’s JPEGmini app is to free up space on a user’s computer, the goal of Beamr is really to cut down on the time it takes to upload and share photos, while also saving on battery life and data costs. “When we apply our technology, we optimize the photos on the iPhone, and this reduces their size by three times, so they’re down to a third of the original file size.”

While the app is free, Gill said they will potentially be adding pro features for professional photographers, for example catering to fashion photographers who need to quickly share photos from a shoot, and they might also add a way for users to pay to instantly print the photos in a magazine. Gill said they will also be launching on other platforms including Android, and will potentially look to add video compression and sharing down the road.

“Our vision as a company is to really change the way that people are sharing photos and videos and enable you to share any content in full resolution even over the mobile channel,” Gill said.

Beamr won’t be adding the ability to import photos from Instagram and other photo-sharing apps, since Gill said once users upload to those apps the resolution is affected and their goal is to preserve the quality of an image. While it has unique technology to back it up, and focuses on sharing original files quickly rather than sharing individual photos with friends a la Instagram, it will be interesting to see how it can stand out vs. other photo-sharing apps and cloud storage services, which are all trying to tackle how users share and upload photos from their smartphone.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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