Feb 16, 2021 - Technology

Retro photo app is winning buzz

Illustration of a man looking at a phone with a digital cloud coming from the screen and covering his eyes like it's a blindfold

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new photo-sharing app that spread fast among hip users over the past week mimics a disposable camera on your iPhone — down to the viewfinder.

Driving the news: Dispo, a photo-sharing app co-founded by YouTube star David Dobrik, released a new, invite-only test version of its app less than a week ago and hit TestFlight's 10,000 user limit over the weekend after thousands of downloads in Japan.

How it works: The app takes its concept very seriously. The screen for snapping photos looks like the back of an old-fashioned disposable camera, leaving the user with only one option — turning the flash on and off.

  • There are no other photo editing features.
  • Photos "develop" the next morning at 9 a.m. local time, and users can create various "film rolls" to put them in.
  • Rolls can be shared between users, enabling them to collect photos among friends (or other users) as a social activity. Users can also like and comment on photos.
  • Public shared rolls have also sprung up around various interests, making it possible for users to interact with like-minded people.
  • The original app, currently in the App Store, didn't have these social sharing features.

Between the lines: Dispo's new app is taking users back in time to when photo-sharing apps were simpler and focused on social interactions.

  • Despite starting that way, apps like Instagram and Snapchat have become sophisticated tools for broadcasting polished content.

The intrigue: Thanks to the buzz, Dispo is already getting interest from investors and some have even preemptively sent the company term sheets for a Series A funding round, Axios has learned.

What's next: The company is expected to push out the new app in the App Store very soon, and has said it will also release an Android app this year.

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