Japanese social network company Mixi recently launched a photo sharing app named Muuk. What’s so unique about this app? To find out, we spoke with the app’s team leader Yuichi Kawasaki, director Atsushi Osaki, and designer Itsumi Motohara.
Muuk’s main target demographic are young women in their teens and early twenties. In short, says the team, it’s a real-time selfie app. It lets you overlay your real-time selfies on top of another photo you might be sending to a friend.
Osaki: We aimed to create a user experience that’s like a real conversation, where users can feel like they are actually talking to their friends face-to-face. Users can text additional information about the photo when they share it. But we rather wanted to enable users to share a more genuine atmosphere by adding a real-time portrait shot.
Kawasaki: We arrived at Muuk’s current form after many improvements during the short development time. Through many team meetings, we eventually concluded that we didn’t want to make an app that saves photos on the device anymore. People get tired of posing to get the best shot, so we wanted to change this kind of tiring activity back to a more natural human communication.
The app incorporates some key features in order to realize this concept. For example, you only see the shot of your friend’s face only for 3 seconds after you receive it. After that the shot disappears from the device entirely.
To send a photo to your friend, you don’t choose a photo from your camera roll. You just take a photo with the primary/rear-facing camera, and the front-facing camera automatically takes a snapshot of your face and overlays it on top of the main photo.
The team had three values in mind when building this app: simple, minimum, and fast. They decided they could create the greatest user experience by focusing on these aspects. As you can see on the screen, there is just the main screen with a shutter button, as well as an inbox and contacts list.
Motohara: We focused on making it simple, minimum and fast. There are many features that would have been nice to have, but we left them out to make communication as fast as possible. We applied the same idea when designing the app as well.
Kawasaki: We didn’t add things like retaking, and modifying or decorating. If the photo you took is not focused enough, you can simply take another one. And friends whom you have not contacted for more than 30 days will automatically disappear from your contacts list.
The name, Muuk, comes from the Japnese term “muku.” That term has two meanings: being simple, and breaking out of one’s shell. While Mixi is providing this service for just the domestic market, they plan to expand it globally, first expanding to Asian markets after April.
How will the app be received by the users in Japan and (later) around the world? Let’s stay tuned!