We had reviewed the startup ZapBuddy before and were impressed by their work done, especially for challenging to create not only a competitor to the likes of whatsapp, but also create something new with Augmented Reality and maps built in as a part of its core function.
The startup sounded promising and apart from focus on privacy, the team had focused on betting Augmented Reality as a key part of their chat. At that time it was only limited to viewing maps something similar to what google maps had also shown sometime later. We had actually covered this functionality before google's event so that was something exciting to see where a local startup’s view of AR was also seen to be implemented in the likes of google maps. There were other small privacy based features that we also liked such as display picture privacy for different set of users that we found very intriguing and liked their approach to add something to the mix.
Augmented Reality has been a promising field with Apple also now introducing Lidar functions to try to play in that area. However the true practical workings are yet to be seen from any big player apart from Snapchat and no other major practical everyday use cases and similarly from ZapBuddy we had not seen much more of AR after that.
However, now the next phase of AR has been rolled out with multiple views of how they perceive AR can be an integral part of social engagement. To highlight that vision, they have launched with an Augmented Reality Version of Father of the nation- Quaid e Azam.
Experience of AR
This fresh approach to see up close Jinnah and engage with surroundings, hear their speeches and even make them walk in our living rooms is an exciting experience. It's unlike we have seen something before done to such an extent specifically for Quaid Day. The details are nice and it was a refreshing experience not only around the office, but also along with friends and especially children. At Least for us it gave us a good time experiencing Quaid with their speeches up close.
After a while playing around with Jinnah's AR version, we also got to experience the other offerings and they seem to be similarly engaging with a different element. Other version of scanning codes to launch AR drinks seems to be highlighting more of the startup’s direction of engaging with AR in different scenarios which seem to be targeted for different purposes.
It is honestly a bold way of doing things in a completely different way for a communication app. On one side, we do see payments being the next milestone for chat apps. However introducing a completely new way of engaging AR within chat is something that we like about zapbuddy. It might seem a bit odd, however no one has the right answer to what can work in the future. Going away from traditional approaches and risking new radical approaches is something we admire about them.
However, there are many challenges before it can become something revolutionary. The AR experience whilst may be fun, seems to lack the fine-tuning to be seamlessly working within chat. Quick fun AR elements from snapchat seem to be doing the trick, however this new method of having complete 3d models within chat to engage is a relatively new area and they need to work more to refine this experience.
The startup's approach towards enhanced privacy measures such as privacy for pictures, having maps for Points of interest, and now AR seem to indicate AR based campaigns around maps coming soon. With payments also planned, this can be an interesting idea we would like to see more of. We are glad that their approach has been to stay away from data selling model, a point they had been focusing from the start, and moving towards a new niche, even if it is unproven yet.
We liked the startup as they are a small dedicated team working from their basements churning out interesting approaches, however we would like to see more improvements rolled out quicker. They had started with focus on privacy and introducing privacy based features along with maps and AR.
There are number of areas where small improvements are required, however the team is slowly getting there. With the startups patents also having now been granted added with these unique approaches, we are hopeful they might be able to pull a few surprises for everyone including us to see.