Apple has reportedly acquired app developer SnappyLabs, the one-man photo technology startup behind the app SnappyCam. For those unfamiliar with the title, it was a popular camera app that allowed users to take full-resolution pictures at 20 to 30 frames per second.
SnappyCam mysteriously disappeared from the App Store, shortly after founder John Papandriopoulos announced that he had achieved a breakthrough with “discrete cosine transform JPG science.” He essentially reinvented the JPG image format, and word has it Apple wanted in…
TechCrunch’s Josh Constine has the scoop:
“I first noticed something was up when we got tipped off that SnappyCam had disappeared from the App Store and all of SnappyLabs‘ websites went blank. Sources have since affirmed that the company was acquired by Apple, and that there was also acquisition interest “from most of the usual players”, meaning other tech giants. I don’t have details on the terms of the deal, and I’m awaiting a response from Apple, which has not confirmed the acquisition.”
Constine has since updated his post with a note that Papandriopoulos’ girlfriend shared a link to his story on Facebook congratulating the founder. So although Apple itself hasn’t confirmed the acquisition, it would seem that the writer’s sources within the company are accurate.
Back in July, SnappyCam was upgraded with new technology, detailed in a since-deleted blog post, that explains how Papandriopoulos was able to redesign how JPG images are compressed, allowing the iPhone to shoot full-quality photos at higher FPS than competing technology.
“First we studied the fast discrete cosine transform (DCT) algorithms…We then extended some of that research to create a new algorithm that’s a good fit for the ARM NEON SIMD co-processor instruction set architecture. The final implementation comprises nearly 10,000 lines of hand-tuned assembly code, and over 20,000 lines of low-level C code. (In comparison, the SnappyCam app comprises almost 50,000 lines of Objective C code.)”
It’s not hard to imagine what Apple would want with this kind of technology. It’s constantly striving to improve the cameras in its mobile and desktop devices, from both a hardware and software standpoint, and it recently introduced a burst mode feature of its own in iOS 7 for taking fast photos.
As Constine says, there’s no word yet on terms of the deal or when it was finalized. But Tim Cook did announce last quarter that Apple made 15 strategic acquisitions during its fiscal 2013, and only 12 of them have been made public. The most recent to come to light were BroadMap and Catch.