The founders of Peep had a groundbreaking idea to make real-time event-specific photo sharing possible across mobile devices. While simple in concept, no other company had widely released a product with this differentiating feature. For that reason, time-to-market and confidentiality were of utmost importance. They engaged BlueMetal in early December 2013 to create a first release of this product, which was used to drive additional investment. The successful first release and subsequent funding drove full product development and an extensive operations and marketing budget to support a global launch.
There are numerous technical challenges in the design and architecture of a consumer-facing app that is expected to go viral and reach millions of users. Flexibility, scale, and high availability are core considerations. The app must be fun and engaging, providing an intuitive, “sticky” user experience. The photo-sharing aspect brings particular performance and responsiveness challenges as the app must maintain quality and speed while sharing photos of different sizes across diverse devices in near real-time. The architecture must support multiple platforms – in this case, iOS and Android for the first phase – and multiple OS versions within those platforms. High security is critical – the app must protect users; information and content while giving them the power to connect with each other, create groups, and share content at a granular level.
The race to market required an agile development model, which meant continuous delivery of a consistently production-ready app with enhancements on a three-week cycle. The tight time-frame demanded an absolute focus on the most important and essential features and attentive management of the desires and requirements of a variety of stakeholders. The balance of feature inclusion, performance and quality, cost-effectiveness, and time to market are the iron triangle constraining any app dev project; in Peep's case, the added factors of high confidentiality, intense competition, and potentially huge visibility constituted a project that could only be successful in the hands of mature and deeply experienced software architects and designers.
When Peep was conceived, no existing social media platform or photo sharing app allowed groups to share their photos selectively in real time. Peep allows groups of all sizes to exchange photos quickly and seamlessly in real time – for example, at a birthday party, concert, or corporate function. These private, shared galleries, or Peeps, can only be joined by request or invitation. Photos can be accessed and saved from the peep, eliminating the post-event scramble to collect and combine the photos taken by individuals in the group.