Talk about defying a trend. At a time when paper-based publications are looking for a way to ditch production and mailing costs in favor of digital, a new app for iOS is moving in the opposite direction. Recently, a new monthly physical magazine that debuts today, differs from the periodical pack in that it is comprised of only the newest images from your own Camera Roll in magazine format.
Recently is a subscription service — not a one-shot deal — though the price is a reasonable $8.99 per month ($7.99 if you invite a friend). It’s your life as high-end art in 8 x 11-inch format.
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And high-end, it is designed to be. While the magazine is soft cover, it is bound with 100-pound acid free Mohawk uncoated cover stock on the outside encasing the same genre of interior paper, printed with bright inks.
The app is free to download and paying subscribers receive 100 of their latest iOS camera roll photographs delivered to their home.
Despite the preponderance of digital imaging, people still love to hold photos in their hands. Photo books are a different, but related, commodity, but are also popular. However, in seeking to help people create photo books, many apps get overly complex with a myriad of choices that drive people to give up in frustration or lack of time.
With Recently, users can have the app automatically select photos or choose to design the layout in the app. In keeping with more recent trends that assume much of that decision-making, Recently offers a one-tap solution. “We have created a system that automates the whole selection, design and print process to alleviate the end user’s issues,” says developer Scott Valins.
In-app reminders make sure you don’t forget about your magazine, which goes to press at the beginning of each month, with subscribers (basically, only the creators at this point) receiving copies within five to seven days. Right now, there’s one magazine per user and shipping is in the US to the creator only — unless the user designates a different mailing address.
But the nagging question lingers: Why bother? According to Valins, “Globally we’re collectively snapping photos at a rate of 880 billion a year, but immediately lose them to endless camera rolls or online timelines. The market for these printed creations is growing rapidly, expected to reach a market value exceeding $1.6 billion by 2016.” From that perspective, the enterprise begins to make sense if your Camera Roll output is that important to you.
One thing that’s critical for all photo products today: It had better be dead simple to use. Luckily, Recently fulfills that requirement nicely. Just launch, sign in and you get the last 100 photos you saved to your Camera Roll. You can remove those you don’t want and rearrange the rest as you choose.
If you did not shoot that volume of photos, the app pares the selection down to the last 50 photos for the month instead — but for the same price. If you shoot less than that, you probably don’t need Recently.
The way Valins sees it, an annual subscription to Recently — which can include up to 1,200 digital photos and 600 pages in an archival magazine — sets you back between $95 and $107 per year. That compares favorably with photo books from other services, which are more costly and require a lot more work.
For example, an Apple soft cover book of similar dimensions goes for $19.99. At Blurb, a 7 x 7-inch Instagram photo book is $12.99. Shutterfly’s books range from $12.99 to $65. From that perspective, Recently is a bargain.
If you’re an Instagram user, don’t fret. Recently is designed to work with the service, not replace it, Valins said. “We actually think of this as a perfect complimentary app to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and VSCO. As we become a mobile-photo-centric world, this is a perfect mobile-photo-centric way to catalog, view, market and connect with our digital selves in a tactile form.”
Right now, Recently is available for one end user only — so it’s not like a traditional subscription, though you can designate a friend or family member to receive the magazine. Regular subscriptions to additional viewers begins in the fall.