Remember Instagram?It’s a photo-sharing application that sold to Facebook for $1 billion after rocketing to tens of millions of users in the span of a few months.
As simple as it sounds, it can be technically challenging to build an app like that. But with a startup called Parse, you can build it in a half hour.
Parse gives app developers a way to build an app that looks and feels great. Instead of wasting time coding the technical necessities like Facebook connectivity and push notifications, Parse users can drag and drop the functions right into their apps.
Parse powers some of the most popular apps in the world, including Band of the Day — a runner-up for App of the Year on Apple’s App Store, in a batch of more than 400,000 other applications. It’s used by 20,000 mobile developers—and that number grows 40 per cent monthly.
We caught up with Parse co-founder Tikhon Bernstam, a two-time graduate from Y Combinator, to find out how easy it was to build an Instagram clone. Here’s what we learned:
- Using Parse, you can build a copy of Instagram in a half hour. All the important bits — like adding a camera function and a sharing function for photos — are baked in to Parse.
- It works for other apps that use pretty common functions, too. Geolocation is baked in to Parse, so it’s easy to build a clone of Pinwheel in a half hour too.
- Parse has 25,000 apps built on its platform. Around 20,000 developers use Parse, and that number is growing quickly.
BUSINESS INSIDER: Can you tell me a little bit about Parse?
TIKHON BERNSTAM: Mobile app development is traditionally really hard, the whole mission of Parse is to make mobile app development much much easier. There aren’t a lot of good examples of open-sourced sophisticated apps like this. We’re hoping to show how easy it is to build huge hit apps like that. We’re at over 25,000 apps on the platform, at Parse.com/gallery we’re building a gallery of some of the coolest, interesting apps on Parse right now.
BI: So what’s this promotion exactly?
TB: We’re launching a Parse-powered clone of the smash hit Instagram and showing with a tutorial showing how you can go from scratch to Instagram in just 30 minutes. Before Parse, that was impossible, it would have taken you much longer — at least a few weeks. We’re actually open sourcing the app and all the code and hoping to spur innovation in photo sharing.
We’re huge fans on Instagram, and this is not exactly the same thing, it’s a great basis for anyone to go start their own photo-sharing app. Parse is handling a lot of the problems that are really difficult. The user authentication, uploading photos, server configuration, the servers handle all this logic. All this stuff you no longer have to do with Parse, we’re trying to showcase the power of the platform.
BUSINESS INSIDER: Why Instagram?
TB: We’d seen quite a few apps on Parse already doing some parts of photo-sharing. There’s obviously been a lot of interest in this space since the acquisition if Instagram, and we just wanted to show the flexibility of Parse. They’ve done a great job, it’s obviously no small feat, and getting 50 million users is not trivial.
Our goal here isn’t to make money off anything, it’s more to showcase the platform and how quickly you can get something really cool up and running on Parse. That’s the point. We’re hoping to spur more interesting stuff in this photo-sharing sector. We’re gonna fork the code on GitHub, we hope people build their own thing.
BI: Can you give me some other examples of apps you can quickly build on Parse?
TB: We’ve actually built a couple smaller ones. We built one called AnyWall, a geolocation game, it’s a lot like Caterina Fake’s app called Pinwheel, you can drop a note anywhere and someone else has to be within a certain distance to see the note. You can drop a note at a restaurant. You can have that up and running in less than a half hour. We’ve already seen a lot of developers fork that and make extra additions to it.
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