Rate and be rated with Totally Cute

IMG_2310Totally Cute is a new iOS app from United Contests. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries additional in-app purchases for certain features.

Totally Cute is an app based around a monthly photo contest, with three $1,000 prizes on offer each month for those who submit the photos deemed the “cutest” in three different categories: babies, pets and kids. Users may submit up to 10 entries per month, and vote for their favorite images once per photo per day.

Entering the contest is a simple matter of signing in to the app (which requires Facebook) and tapping the prominent “Submit” button in the lower-center of the screen. From here, the user is shown a days, hours and minutes countdown depicting how long they have left in the current competition, the number of entries they have remaining and may then submit a new photo either by taking it with the device’s camera or uploading an image from its photo library. Because of the inclusion of the latter option, there’s no real way to ensure that the photos submitted have been genuinely taken by the user submitting them, which is a shame. When browsing photos, there is a “report as inappropriate” function, however — this does rely on the honesty of the community somewhat, but there is at least a system in place for policing submitted images.

Outside of submitting their own photos, users may browse through other users’ images using three feeds — one showing all submitted photos (presumably in chronological order, though this isn’t made particularly clear), one showing the current leaders in the three categories, and one showing photos submitted by Facebook friends who are also using the app. From the feeds, users may immediately vote for particular images as “cute,” share them via Facebook, email, Twitter or iMessage/SMS and mark them as favorites. Tapping on an image allows the user to view it in more detail and perform the same functions along with reporting it as inappropriate and “making it premium.”

tottaly cute

This latter option requires a $2.99 in-app purchase and means that the chosen photo receives automatic daily votes until the end of the current contest without the user having to log in and vote again each day. “Premium” photos are also added to a dedicated feed in the app known as the “Finalist Wall,” giving them greater visibility, and users who opt to make a photo “Premium” also have the option to download a copy of the image marked with a Totally Cute logo. Given that the app largely deals with images of babies and children, there is arguably something of a safety and privacy issue here, as some users may not be aware that they are potentially handing over the rights to sell images of their offspring to other Internet users until after they have uploaded the pictures in question. It also feels a little morally questionable to quite literally sell votes in a competition that offers cash prizes.

Ethical issues aside, the app itself is solid, if rather unremarkably designed. It’s easy to navigate and provides the user with audible feedback when tapping on buttons and submitting votes. If looking for friends’ images it’s relatively straightforward to find them using the dedicated friends feed, though there doesn’t appear to be an obvious means of viewing an individual user’s profile and seeing their past images, nor is there any apparent means of searching, which is disappointing.

On the whole, Totally Cute is a fairly good example of how a regular photo competition can be implemented via mobile and social platforms, but safety, privacy and ethical concerns make it difficult to recommend the app without some reservations.

Totally Cute is currently ranked at No. 325 in Top Free Photography Apps and No. 376 in Top Grossing Photography Apps. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.