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Later Cam brings the nostalgia of analog photography to your smartphone

·4-min read

Photo-sharing app Dispo brought back the nostalgia of an analog camera by letting people see the images they snap a day later. Now, a new company called Later Cam wants to create similar magic by not just offering an analog-like photo-taking experience, but also by delivering prints of those one-take photos.

The idea is simple: Users can pick a "disposable camera" style in the Later Cam app through the "Digital Disposable" mode, then take up to 27 photos. Like an old-school camera, you don't get to see previews after snapping or edit those images. However, users will have the option to use the old-school or full-screen viewfinder (as shown in the image below) and can switch between different lenses or turn the flash on and off.

Users can also invite their friends through the "party cam" feature by sending them a link to the shared camera. Friends can install the app through that link and take photos of an event with a collective limit of 27 photos.

As users snap photos, the Later Cam app will display the number of photos you have left through a counter on the camera interface, just like a disposable camera would offer. But you can't see the "developed" digital images until three days after you've snapped all 27 photos. People can opt to use the "Develop early" option to see the photos before they finish the reel, but then they will lose the unused slots in that camera. If they are trying out the digital disposable camera mode -- the free option where you don't pay upfront -- that doesn't really matter.

Image Credits: Later Cam

Paying users can get the photos they like printed and shipped to their homes. This could be ideal for a birthday party or a reunion where everyone wants to have physical memories of the event.

The company charges $3.99 for five photos, $5.99 for 10, $8.99 for 17 and  $12.99 for all 27 photos to be printed. Later Cam also offers a wedding package of 270 photos for $149, which allows attendees to scan QR codes from wedding invites and take photos of the event which are shipped to the people getting married at a later date. Shipping is free in the U.S., and the company said it's exploring different models to send the photos overseas. Users can also choose to download photos on their phones, but where's the fun in that?

The startup was founded by Alex Cook, who got this idea from his other startup called NanaGram. That service let you and your family members send photos over text messages, which the firm later prints out and then sends to the elderly members in the family who may not have smartphones. He was inspired to build Later Cam after noticing that many supermarkets were still selling disposable cameras at $25 a pop, and thought it would be fun to bring that experience to users' phones at a cheaper price.

After interviewing some early users of Later Cam during testing Cook added an O.G. Print Disposable mode  — where you pay the price for a set of 5, 10, 17 or 27 photos upfront, and see them the first time directly when they arrive in prints arrive in the email — before the public launch.

Currently, the app has only one film filter that gives photos a slightly vintage grainy look. Cook said that he's exploring different filters for when you're snapping a picture.

Image Credits: Later Cam

"Our camera phones are obviously far more convenient and since our phones are pretty much always with us we take more photos. We used to have to wait in anticipation, now we snap ten photos of the same thing to get the perfect one. As we’ve made the transition from analog to digital we’ve sacrificed magic for the sake of convenience. Later Cam is bringing back some of the magic," Cook said in an email conversation with TechCrunch.

The Later Cam app is available on both iOS and Android. While the company is aiming to push more customers to print their photos, it will definitely draw a comparison with Dispo, whose founder David Dobrik faced sexual assault allegations last year and then exited the company.

Dobrik played a huge role in marketing Dispo to the masses, and without him the company's path to becoming a mainstream social media app is blurry. With new social networks like BeReal finding success, Dispo's numbers are already on a downward curve. According to data by analytics firm Apptopia, Dispo has been downloaded 1.64 million times this year till August — a 26% drop from the same time period year-on-year; the app has 7.32 million lifetime downloads.