Jan. 31, 2020Software/Application

Expanding imaging enjoyment

In 2016, Nikon launched the SnapBridge app, which realizes seamless connection between a camera and smart device, and followed up with regular updates. SnapBridge features a constant automatic image transferring function. The driving motivation that enabled the SnapBridge team to overcome the difficult development challenges was the ability of the planner, developer and designers to envision the future.

Seamless connection between a camera and smart device

When you open your smart device, photos you have just taken with a camera have already been transferred to the device. Therefore, constant automatic image transfer requires no operation every time you want to transfer images. This lets you get more use out of photos that might otherwise have been forgotten, stored away in their recording media. In this way, quality photos can be more easily shared via SNS and this expands the enjoyment of imaging. This is the world the development team imagined.

To realize this ideal, SnapBridge needed to combine technologies in a complex way. The SnapBridge system could only be realized by utilizing multiple communication methods. As an initial version of SnapBridge, the team nonetheless successfully brought the product to life, but it experienced some difficulties in both technology and usability.
There was still a long way to go in order to fully deliver the team’s ideals to the user.

Utilizing the UX design point of view

After the initial version was released, the team began exploring how to solve the problems that had accumulated, including whether to drop SnapBridge and create a new app.

After restarting, one person who played a major role in establishing the way forward towards an enhanced product was a UX (user experience) designer. The designer created a detailed image of typical users, and organized their priorities regarding what they intend to do with the images they take with their cameras. What could SnapBridge do for such people? Once united behind the same vision, the team proceeded with development without hesitation.

While making technical improvements, the team created many prototypes with a focus on functions and design, and refined SnapBridge into its ideal form.

Creating an easy-to-understand and reliable design

The development direction was optimally organized and the design became much simpler.
SnapBridge, which provides constant automatic image transfer, functions like a "stage assistant" app that works efficiently in the background without needing to be opened while working.
The tone of the design sought to apply Nikon’s professional and robust worldview to the app. In addition, the number and placement of buttons was carefully considered so that users would naturally know what to do next on all screens, making operation that was previously complex much more simple.

At the same time, in order to reassure users that their connection has been successful, an easy-to-understand visual status indication was created. During automatic image transfer, connection status is indicated by an animation, displayed between the camera icon and smart device icon at the top of the screen.

Also, the large camera image displayed on the home screen makes it easy to see which camera is currently paired at a glance. This screen has the role of letting the user experience a sense of operating the camera while actually controlling it via the smart device.

In addition to constant automatic image transfer, SnapBridge enables remote shooting of the camera from a smart device as one of the seamless linkage functions between a camera and smart device.
On the remote shooting screen, genuine shooting functions such as changing aperture and setting White Balance have been placed into an intuitive interface, designed to optimally suit a smart device. The design is simple to use for both those familiar with cameras and people who are more accustomed to smart devices.

User voice:
Photographer Takahiro Sakai

"Normally, I would open up my computer and everyone would come to look at a photo together. However, since SnapBridge allows us to share taken images immediately from a smart device, everybody in my team can now check out the pictures in detail on their own devices.

When I traveled with my family, I could share the excitement right away by sending photos to them as I took them or uploading images to SNS albums. This reduces the risk of data being left forgotten on storage media, and makes it much easier to make the most of the picture I take. This app is not only convenient, but also expands my shooting enjoyment."

Takahiro Sakai

A photographer based in the Kanto area. He mainly takes portraits, and his followers on Instagram increased by more than 70,000 over about two years (as of December 2019). His activities are wide-ranging, including giving photography lessons and producing an original preset for certain software.

From left to right;Ami Sato for marketing and planning, Kyohei Hashimura and Akiya Maekawa for designing, and Naotaka Yamashita for software design

Connecting your images to the world

SnapBridge, which has been improved with every update, has received many positive reviews from users. The whole team is grateful that the concept of constant automatic image transfer could provide new enjoyment for so many people.
The meaning of the SnapBridge name is derived from the idea of "a bridge between the imaging within a camera, the world including the web." The team will continue to make further improvements as a bridge helping foster a more familiar relationship between users and their cameras, allowing them to enjoy the high-quality imaging experience that Nikon delivers as a part of their daily life.