The German casual dining restaurant chain Vapiano facilitates and streamlines their customer’s visits with a feature-rich app that lets its users: check in at the restaurant, order beverages, and desserts from their seat, pay after their visit, collect loyalty points, browse the menu, save favorite dishes, locate the nearest subsidiary and even create images for social media postings.
With 180 restaurants in 31 countries, Vapiano is one of the biggest fast casual dining chains around. Especially at lunch time and early evening hours each restaurant wines and dines plenty of hungry customers, with Vapiano’s current approach (ordering at the counter, receiving the meal, finding a table and after that checking out on a regular register) that sometimes resulted in long lines and consequently frustration among their guests. With the Vapiano app, that is a thing of the past as the visit can almost solely be handled by the app from check-in to check-out. As Vapiano’s target audience is very photography and social media affine, their app holds another gem for their users to play around with. When taking a picture of themselves and their food in a Vapiano restaurant, the users can directly add Vapiano stickers to their pictures and then post them online. Said feature was realized by MobiLab Solutions utilizing the PhotoEditor SDK. We sat down with Max Afflerbach and Robert Rabe of MobiLab Solutions GmbH to talk about their experiences with PhotoEditor SDK.
“Vapiano’s vision regarding the photo feature is to spread their brand, enhance brand recognition and broaden the brand’s visibility,” Max Afflerbach, Chief Customer Officer at MobiLab Solutions explains. “Basically, they wanted to provide their guests with a tool that facilitates what they’re already doing when dining at Vapiano, that is taking pictures of their food and then uploading them to Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, you name it. And so, we came up with a built-in branding feature that uses custom stickers.”
As they were on a schedule and didn’t have the time to develop the feature themselves the folks at MobiLab started searching for a third-party solution. “We’ve been looking for an SDK that does exactly what we imagined the feature to be capable of, namely taking a picture, adding assets and then exporting it,” says Robert Rabe, iOS developer at MobiLab Solutions. “We first considered Adobe Creative SDK because it is the best-known SDK in that field. However, it lacked a crucial feature for us that PhotoEditor SDK luckily has and that is the possibility to upload custom stickers,” says Max Afflerbach. “Also,” Rabe adds, “we weren’t 100% sure whether this whole thing would work without the user having to log into the Adobe Cloud.” “When you’re searching for other image processing SDKs on StackOverflow or Quora, PhotoEditor SDK is listed and praised as the only real alternative to Aviary. And besides, there aren’t exactly a lot of SDKs out there that cover both iOS and Android. So, that wasn’t a tough decision at all,” Afflerbach explains.
From the initial decision to work with PhotoEditor SDK until the feature was finished and ready for rollout, only a short period passed as Rabe explains: “Working with the SDK is really straightforward. The implementation is fast, and it’s all well documented. The SDK is a powerful tool and holds a lot of features with a great many possibilities. Setting up the feature exactly as we wanted it to be didn’t take longer than three working days tops. And if we had any issues or questions, we had no problems whatsoever getting in touch with the folks at PhotoEditor SDK which is really nice.”
“I really like the product, it’s working very well, and especially the communication with the PhotoEditor SDK team was highly pleasant,” Robert Rabe concludes. “Working together with the team of PhotoEditor SDK was super easygoing, the few requests and inquiries we had we’re answered quickly, and the technical licensing was a cinch as well. We are delighted with the product, the integration was very simple, and our developers are happy, I guess you couldn’t ask for more from an agency’s perspective,” Max Afflerbach adds.
The HP Sprocket paves the way for a whole new way of experiencing mobile photography. While pictures nowadays are either ephemeral or get stored away in digital vaults, HP breathes new life into material photographs by making mobile printing available to anyone. For this piece, we sat together with Carem Pereira, SCRUM Master for the sprocket Android team in Brazil, to recap the development of HP’s portable gem.
The HP Sprocket is a beautifully small and portable printer that instantly prints two by three-inch color photos — no cartridge or ink required. Peel the back of the photos and you can even stick them onto anything you like. “Our message is that printing can be easy and fun on the go. Snap, print, and play. You can take the sprocket anywhere, easily print photos on the spot and share them with your friends” says Carem Pereira. But creating a straightforward printing experience was only half the battle for the sprocket team, as Pereira explains: “From the first day on, editing features were planned to be a central part of the sprocket’s core experience. We wanted to give our users the ability to personalize and customize their snapshots before printing or sharing them.”
Consequently, HP wanted to incorporate these essential features into their free sprocket companion app that connects the user’s mobile device to the printer via Bluetooth and allows for the management and printing of the pictures. “We’ve been working on a very tight schedule and had only three months until the release of our first MVP mid-September 2016”, Pereira explains, “in the beginning, we wanted to implement the editing features ourselves, but by the time we started the estimates, we realized that we’d eventually not be able to meet our goals. So, we were looking for a third-party solution.”
“One of our team members was already working with the SDK for another project, the HP Print Bot,” Pereira continues, “so, we compared PhotoEditor SDK with other solutions and found that it would be the best fit for us since it provides all the features that are crucial for our use case and we were already familiar with it. Also, it was of great importance to us that the look of the editor in sprocket matched the rest of the app and we saw that it would be very easy to accomplish that with the PhotoEditor SDK.” The PhotoEditor SDK also leaves full control over content assets like stickers, fonts and filters, a feature critical to the HP team: “We want to stay relevant to our customers and one of the examples where we accomplish that is with our assets, like Stickers and Frames that are tailored for specific times and holidays. We have releases every two weeks that contain a new set of assets,” Pereira explains.
The HP Sprocket became an instant success. “The sprocket continues to be one of the great highlights for HP in consumer printing this year. The customers love using the printer, and we are already in millions of prints, we even sold out worldwide during the holidays last year, which was a great surprise for us,” says Carem Pereira.
But it’s not only sales figures that define its impact, as the story of Dom Russell and Seb Trevaskis exemplifies: The two Physiotherapy graduates brought the HP Sprocket to a Vietnamese orphanage where they educated, designed and implemented individualized rehabilitation programs for children who suffered from mental and physical disabilities due to the Vietnam War herbicide Agent Orange. The sprocket brought happiness to the orphanage and created everlasting memories for the children, as Dom Russell explains: “The sprocket was awesome, and the kids loved it! They would stick the photos on all their favorite possessions. Some would even just stare at them for hours as it may have been the first time they’d seen a physical copy of themselves. I think those photos will stay with them for life seeing the way they reacted when it got printed and the way they treated them as well. It’s amazing how just a little gesture like a photograph can make such a difference in someone’s life!”
Needless to say, that sprocket was also an instant hit at our office. Playing around with the app that contains our editor was truly amazing and really let us grasp its potential. Using the sprocket on many different occasions gave us not only a hands-on experience of what our SDK is capable of but also of what needs further improvement or even what’s missing. Meanwhile, our office is plastered with sprocket prints.
“We continue to get great feedback from our users on how straightforward and easy our experience is. And again, easy, that is the key,” Pereira says, “the PhotoEditor SDK was a vital and essential asset for making things work on time and with a top-notch standard. That was paramount to us,” Carem Pereira concludes. We couldn’t be happier about this.
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Use-Case: Charity app for content creation and micro-donations
A robust hybrid image editing solution at the core of the app for easy content creation
Results: Easy and seamless content creation with Photos, Doodles, and motivational messages
The Elbi app aims to connect people with charity organizations and beneficiaries alike and facilitate the social engagement and donation process. Users can support charity organizations via a “Love Button” with micro-donations and get creative for selected good causes. If users don’t donate directly, they can help fundraise money with their content. To enable their users to produce motivating and exceptional content, Elbi had to provide them with a powerful creative tool. “Our app has photo-editing at the very core of its experience and the editor has been invaluable in making that vision happen. There are no other tools on the market up to the quality of PhotoEditor SDK, so it was an easy choice to have it be at the heart of Elbi,” says Toby Green former lead developer at Elbi.
For the previous version of the Elbi app, the team built their own creative tool that worked with iOS only. When they decided to reforge their app, the team at Elbi wanted to follow a different approach. “When we rebuilt the app we wanted it to be a hybrid solution and not only iOS like the previous one, so we abandoned our existing solution and were looking for an existing library. I spent a lot of time researching photo editing tools and did a feasibility study on all the available editors and PhotoEditor SDK came top of the list” says Toby Green.
With the PhotoEditor SDK the developers at Elbi were able to swiftly rebuild their app “We would never have been able to do this so quickly without the editor” says Green, “the documentation was great so it was very easy to get it all up and running and the support was incredibly patient and helpful. They always responded quickly and were happy to spend time resolving even difficult-to-track-down issues”. The SDK seamlessly integrates into the app providing an intuitive solution for Elbi’s content creation section. “It really looks like it’s part of the product,” says Toby Green.
“The product is a 10/10; it is the best hybrid tool available. And in general, I would say one of the finest teams I’ve ever worked with; they’ve been very supportive with regards to custom support, adding functionalities and discussing integration and they helped us getting everything working 100%,” concludes Toby Green. With the PhotoEditor SDK Elbi facilitates the charitable engagement of its users and helps people all around the globe to do good on the go.
Use-Case: Scrivito: A Native Cloud CMS built with Ruby on Rails
Requirements: A simple and intuitive photo editing solution to provide their clients with seamless and easy asset management
Results: A versatile image editor within Scrivito’s Content Browser
The native cloud service Scrivito is tailored to meet the requirements of editors worldwide and provides a clean and simple What-you-see-is-what-you-get, drag & drop interface that enables its users to change their websites and content on the fly; eliminating complex tree hierarchies and all the guesswork that goes along with it. Since successful websites hinge on high-quality pictures, Infopark wanted to equip its users with a robust image editing solution. “We wanted to provide our users with a coherent and easy-to-use working environment, and because most editors don’t have Photoshop or a proper skillset for other sophisticated programs, we were searching for a solution that would enable our users to quickly and professionally edit their images within Scrivito” says Thomas Witt, co-founder and Director of Product & Business Development at Infopark.
Before integrating the PhotoEditor SDK into their award-winning service Scrivito, Infopark tried to tackle the problem themselves with a simple, self-made solution based on ImageMagick. The editor could perform operations such as rotate, crop or flip “but that solution didn’t have an appealing UI, nor was it easy to use” says Thomas Witt. “After evaluating some solutions, we felt that the PhotoEditor SDK would be a good match because it is the easiest to use for both developers and users and also has a nice UI that doesn’t look cluttered.”
With the SDK the developers at Infopark accomplished in days what would’ve otherwise taken weeks. “Our developers loved that the integration was really straightforward and that everything you need like APIs and documentation is easy to find and of very good quality. And when we had questions, the support team responded very quickly and extensively” says Witt. With the PhotoEditor SDK Infopark provides their customers with a native image editing solution that seamlessly integrates into Scrivito’s content browser and further facilitates the creation of websites and content. “Asset management is critical to our users, and we get a lot of positive feedback for our solution” says Thomas Witt.
“The PhotoEditor SDK is a great product, it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and we never encountered any difficulties. It even provides more functionalities than our customers would ever use. The support was very fast and helpful, and the documentation is extensive and comprehensible” concludes Witt. With the PhotoEditor SDK Scrivito allows for an intuitive and straightforward approach to both content and website creation. Unlike other CMS Scrivito now enables its users to creatively experiment with their website assets and make impromptu decisions for their design.