Return of the GorillaCam (Director’s commentary)

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By JOBY Inc on

In probably the quietest re-launch ever for an app that has had over 3M downloads, we rebooted our iPhone GorillaCam app in early-February. For those who don’t know, JOBY had a lot of success with GorillaCam when it first launched in Dec of 2009. At one time, it was a top 5 camera download on the Apple app store.

But alas, GorillaCam development stopped because of a number of…well…weird…reasons.

JOBY moved on to creating another iPhone app, Frame x Frame, in April 2011. It had a lot of features of GorillaCam but also included stop motion and time lapse features (check out the Frame x Frame contest that we ran).

But alas, Frame x Frame development stopped because of a number of…well…weird…reasons.

JOBY. Tis a silly place.

People came and went; everybody associated with the app left. And our two apps just sat there gathering dust (and bugs, lots of bugs).

But since our spiffy GripTight phone tripods were coming out in late 2012, a new generation of JOBYians pushed for rebooting GorillaCam. It just didn’t seem right to let GorillaCam wither on the vine. We had to give it a shot, right?

Admittedly, it wasn’t a terribly popular idea at the time. Remember how you promised your mom you wouldn’t forget to feed the goldfish if she just gave you a THIRD chance? Yeah, it was kind of like that.

First off, we had to figure out what we wanted the app to be. Frame by Frame had great functionality, but it was too hard to learn. This was the typical Frame x Frame user experience:

600 shots x 5 second interval per shot x 10 fps = SDFSKLFSJDFDALFK.

GorillaCam had this large following, but well, we didn’t have the code for it. X_x

So, we relaunched GorillaCam with Frame x Frame’s additional functionality as its base but thought about how to make the app a lot easier to use. We wanted an app where beginners could just get started creating their cool photography or time-lapse and stop-motion videos without getting bombarded by a ton of options. For instance…

 

To shoot say a timelapse video in GorillaCam today, you just say how long do you want to record and then how long you want the video to be. That’s it.

Just start shooting

Just start shooting

All of the camera modes are clearly broken out. We’ve grouped the options a lot more logically to make them easy to find. We tried to keep the buttons per screen down to a minimum.

Our first test run of GorillaCam

But we understand that some people wanted those advanced settings so we created GorillaCamPro which has those features. Now, you can set your shots, intervals, fps, time lapse photo series (instead of video) as you see fit for $1.99. To keep GorillaCam free, we had to stick in some JOBY ads in the app to help pay the bills, but hopefully those aren’t too intrusive.

I’d love to say that the GorillaCam relaunch in early February was a smash, but actually it was something of a disaster. We took our lumps from loyal GorillaCam users who were furious for leaving out the tap-screen-to-shoot option as well as the anti-shake option which takes a picture only when the camera is steady.

No good deed goes unpunished.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Ack.

But we’re ready for change this time. Our development goal with GorillaCam now is to introduce small features and improvements over time. Part of it is because of budget reasons. But the other part is that smaller releases let us respond more quickly to bugs or introduce new features.

We managed to re-introduce the biggest missing features (tap to shoot, antishake, beeping on the photo countdown, etc) a few weeks later…

We're sorry! We're sorry!

We’re sorry! We’re sorry!

And then in another update just last week, we overcame the limitations of the old Frame-x-Frame code and greatly improved the resolution of the photos and videos. Your iPhone 4S and 5 for instance can now shoot timelapse videos in 1920 x 1080 HD on the best setting. And we’re already at work on the next set of features.

So, please give GorillaCam or GorillaCamPro a shot, and let us know how we’re doing, good or bad. If there’s some functionality that you want to see, please let us know on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or by email at community AT joby.com. We can’t promise that we can build every request, but we do definitely want to hear what you’re thinking and how we can improve!

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