Apple has acquired the single developer in charge of photography startup SnappyLabs, maker of SnappyCam. John Papandriopoulos, the founder of SnappyCam, graduated from the University of Melbourne with his PhD in electrical engineering.
SnappyCam was an iPhone app that could take full resolution photos at 20 to 30 frames per second. Sources confirmed SnappyLabs was acquired by Apple, which explains why his app is no longer available on the App Store and all of SnappyLabs’ websites have gone blank. Other companies also reportedly showed interest in the startup.
By looking at what Papandriopoulos was able to accomplish, it is no surprise that Apple was interested in him. Bringing his talent to the photography team at Apple could further improve the stock iOS camera app.
SnappyCam, which he sold in the App Store for $1, quickly jumped to number one on the paid app chart in nine countries, letting him run SnappyLabs without the need for funding from venture capital firms.
In a blog post published by Papandriopoulos in July, which has since been taken down, said:
“First we studied the fast discrete cosine transform (DCT) algorithms…We then extended some of that research to create a new algorithm that’s a good fit for the ARM NEON SIMD co-processor instruction set architecture. The final implementation comprises nearly 10,000 lines of hand-tuned assembly code, and over 20,000 lines of low-level C code. (In comparison, the SnappyCam app comprises almost 50,000 lines of Objective C code.)
JPEG compression comprises two parts: the DCT (above), and a lossless Huffman compression stage that forms a compact JPEG file. Having developed a blazing fast DCT implementation, Huffman then became a bottleneck. We innovated on that portion with tight hand-tuned assembly code that leverages special features of the ARM processor instruction set to make it as fast as possible.”
Apple has not yet confirmed the acquisition.
Update: Apple has confirmed the acquisition to the WSJ:
An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the acquisition with its boilerplate comment that it issues when a deal has taken place: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”