Australian camera app snapped up by Apple

Madeleine Swain
7 January, 2014
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If you’ve tried to download the popular SnappyCam app from the App Store recently, or even visited the website hosted by its maker SnappyLabs, you may have drawn a blank. Created by local developer John Papandriopolous (who is the founder and sole employee of SnappyLabs), SnappyCam is the latest high flying app to be acquired by Apple.

With the news first being reported by TechCrunch, after the website’s Josh Constine had noticed SnappyCam’s disappearance from the App Store and then later noted a Facebook post from Papandriopolous’ girlfriend, congratulating the developer on the deal. Apple later confirmed the acquisition with its standard line, telling The Wall Street Journal, ”Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

SnappyCam is a camera app developed for the iPhone 5, to make the smartphone’s inbuilt camera capable of shooting 20 high-quality photos in a second. It also gives the iPhone the ability to zoom up to six times or shoot pictures in different aspect ratios.

Papandriopolous grew up in Melbourne and studied at Melbourne High School, before studying computer science and electrical engineering at RMIT, where he won the J N McNichol Prize, awarded to a student “with an outstanding academic record in a bachelor degree course who displays leadership potential and initiative”.

He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne, but now lives and works in San Francisco, after moving to the US and winning the ‘Greencard lottery’, furnishing him with permanent residency in the US, according to Melbourne’s Herald Sun.

As news of the deal broke, Papandriopolous appeared to be lying low and declining to comment, though reports circulated that he has recently been holidaying back in Australia, with a friend apparently tweeting a picture of him drinking beer in Byron Bay in New South Wales to Fairfax Media.

Details of the deal have not been disclosed, although there is speculation that it could be in the seven-figure bracket. As The Sydney Morning Herald noted, a similar acquisition – when Apple bought the search engine Chomp from Ben Keighran and Cathy Edwards in February 2012 – the price tag was US$50 million.

With SnappyCam now removed from Apple’s online App Store, the expectation is that Apple will now integrate its functionality into the iPhone’s existing camera software updates, so that iPhone users will be able to utilise the app automatically and free of charge.

John Papandriopoulos

When the SnappyCam app first went live in July last year, it received warm accolades from tech writers and rose to take the No.1 spot in Apple’s App Store in 16 countries. The Guardian’s Charles Arthur described Papandriopolous as an “algorithms whiz”, while Fairfax Media elaborated by explaining, “Using a compression algorithm, which comprises nearly 10,000 lines of hand-tuned assembly code, and more than 20,000 lines of low-level C code… the SnappyCam is able to unlock an iPhone’s higher frame and resolution capture when taking photographs – a feat Apple’s own camera app could not achieve.”

And it looks like it’s a feat that has made its developer a very rich man.


3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Clark Daivdson says:

    Could this mean the iPhone 5 could get its own 20 photos/sec “Burst Mode” in a software update?


  2. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    That’s certainly what people are thinking Clark – that the SnappyCam functionality will be built-in to future iPhone camera software. Time will tell…

  3. Marty Turner says:

    As an expat yank living in OZ who worked in Silly-Con valley (just down the street from Apple In Cupertino) would know: if you got $50M, the US will let ANYONE in (fast track visa it’s called).

    But “good on him” for what he did and figured out how to do; I hope Apple does utilize it and not bury it. He’ll love the SF Bay Area, I still do …

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