Make photography a game with AppySnap

mzl.pntfunuc.320x480-75AppySnap is a new mobile app-cum-social game for iOS devices, developed by Chiwawa Ltd. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and carries in-app purchases, all of which remove ads when acquired.

This actually isn’t the first time AppySnap has appeared on the App Store — it first came out back in 2011 as a “photo scavenger hunt” app that challenged players to complete various missions and earn virtual rewards. After a hiatus the team revamped the app completely and the service is back with a new look but the same photo-centric “gameplay” of its predecessor.

Essentially, AppySnap is an asynchronous social game in which players challenge one another to complete specific missions. Users may challenge any of their friends via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or connections they have made on Appysnap itself, but there is presently no apparent means of challenging a random stranger. This is presumably in an attempt to help prevent abuse of the system, but it would have been nice to have the option, particularly if you are the only person in your circle of friends using the app — there’s no means of actually starting a “game” until one of your friends from the other networks has actually registered for the service and started “playing.”

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To give users the opportunity to at least try the service before they start bugging their friends to join them, two fake challenges supposedly from AppySnap staffer “Laura” are sent as soon as you complete registration. Once you have submitted a photo to these two galleries — one of which requires you to take a photo through a window, and the other of which requires you to take a photo of you (or someone else) smiling and waving — you can then browse galleries of photos submitted by other users and start making contact with people outside your immediate group of online friends. Individual photos may be Liked and commented on or flagged as inappropriate. The user may also share their own images on social networks if they so desire, or if viewing another user’s images, view the rest of their gallery. There’s no facility to “follow” a user or add them to your friends list — the “Challenge a Friend” option in the app suggests that it’s possible to challenge AppySnap users you’ve “interacted with” to a game, but neither Liking nor commenting on a photo appeared to trigger this functionality.

Users are encouraged to continually engage with the app through earning coins for completing challenges, earning hearts for receiving “Likes” on their photos and earning stars the more they play. “Caps” are also earned for completing specific achievements, though the conditions for unlocking these are not made immediately apparent.

The app monetizes through occasional advertising and also through in-app purchases of the virtual currency used throughout. These “coins” can be used to purchase additional challenge packs, which are set to be updated each month, and also on “scrubs,” which allow the various options for a new challenge to be replaced with three new ones. The overall structure is very much like Draw Something, albeit with photos instead of sketches and no “guessing” mechanic.

There’s the foundation for a fun social photo-sharing experience here, but AppySnap needs a little work. At present, it’s too difficult to get a “game” going if you don’t already have a variety of friends using the app — the built-in social network isn’t fleshed out well enough to make finding new friends easy, and it’s impossible to actually issue a challenge until you have convinced a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram friend to install and register for the app. Oddly enough, this is the exact opposite problem that Zynga’s recently-released Draw Something 2 suffers from — in that case, the “game” component is solid and easy to get into with either friends or random strangers, but there too much emphasis is placed on the mobile-social network, making the “game” element all but irrelevant. It’s a delicate balance, and neither AppySnap nor Draw Something 2 quite gets it right.

You can follow AppySnap’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.