Ex Googlers Launch Shadow Puppet, Among iOS 7’s First New Photo Apps

How many times has this happened: you’re looking at a photo your friend sent and you’re wondering, what it’s supposed to mean?  Was there something funny you should be laughing at?  Was it an “aaawww, that’s so cute!” moment?

Looking at photos can bring back memories, but if you’re not there when the photo was taken, how will you know the story behind it?

Ready for the new iPhone 5s


Shadow Puppet is a new app for iOS launched today, setting out to help people share photos along with their back stories, in a easy way.  The new app is the latest startup from Carl Sjogreen and Adrian Graham, two industry vets that cut their teeth at Google and Facebook. Carl was the main product manager who created Google Calendar then later went on to run the platform team for Facebook, and Adrian was instrumental in building out Picasa.

After downloading Shadow Puppet, the app will show you photos from your camera roll.  Choose a photo or a series of photos to start creating your “puppet,” and begin recording your voice.  You can also tap one to point on a certain object on  a photo while recording, or tap twice to zoom in.  When you’re done, the puppets are ready to be shared via text message, email, Facebook or Twitter.  The recipient doesn’t need to have Shadow Puppets to get the puppets, and slideshows can be viewed in any web browser.

“At any given time, we have hundreds of photos on our phones,” said Adrian Graham, co-founder of Shadow Puppet.  “With Shadow Puppet, it’s easy to use those photos to make something great and share it with the people you care about. What’s more, early Shadow Puppet users have surprised us with their creativity – we’ve seen everything from a child describing something she’s made to a couple telling vacation stories to a teacher explaining the similarities between turtle shells and fish scales.”

Curbing the competition


Shadow Puppet is entering a crowded market of generalized photo sharing apps available for the iPhone, arming itself with iOS 7-ready capabilities and a comprehensive feature set for doing more than just tacking on an audio file to a single photo.  One benefit Shadow Puppet is already demonstrating is the breadth of use cases for its app, from teachers that want to share a science experiment with students or young children that otherwise wouldn’t be able to create quality content worthy of sending to grandma.

In working with iOS 7, Carl and his team started with the features you’re already familiar with using the iPhone’s Photo app, and layering on more features from there.  “We added this ‘reporting’ feature to highlight where you tap,” to draw attention to one area of the photo during a Puppet slideshow, he explained.  “We also added the ability to swipe through photos and added a number of transitions.  We’ve seen people do some interesting things with pausing and recording, so you can rearrange photos.”

These perks will hopefully help Shadow Puppet curb some of the direct comparisons to other photo-sharing apps, especially the more popular, like Instagram, that have incorporated video to layer in voice capabilities and more dynamic content.

“It will be interesting to see what people do with Shadow Puppet,” Carl continues.  “Vine and Instagram video are good for ‘in-the-moment’ sharing.  You can’t tell the story of what happens over the course of the day or weekend, to better explain an idea.  Their properties of video actually make things more difficult compared to what we’re doing.”