WOLCOTT, Conn. (AP) — A cellphone application that sends users' photos to strangers, and in return sends random photos back, could epitomize the bane of social media: the tendency to overshare.
But Joseph Bosco, who created the app called Randid, has implemented controls that ensure only appropriate pictures enter the system. In addition, the software has built-in incentives for users to share quality photos that will resonate with others.
"I think pictures are so valuable to the world," he said. "People say a picture speaks 1,000 words, and it's true."
Bosco, 20, grew up in Wolcott and graduated from Chase Collegiate School. He is a student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
He got the idea for Randid about a year ago. He was trying to think of an idea for a cellphone app that didn't already exist as a way to make money to open his dream restaurant after he graduates.
There is no app like Randid on the market now, he said. It's similar to Instagram in that it allows people to share photos, but Instagram only displays photos shared by people you know or seek out.
"My idea was to make everything random and spread pictures all around the world," Bosco said.
The software, which has an interface similar to Instagram, allows users to select photos on their phone to share with the world. Every time a user shares a photo, he or she will receive a random photo in return. Users can see when someone "favorites" their photo, which means it's being spread through the community, but they won't know who received it.
The idea is to expose people to things they've never seen, such as mountains in Europe or architecture in Italy.
"It's the surprise factor, that you never know what you're going to get, that keeps you coming back," Bosco said.
Randid is currently being used by about 20 beta testers. It's set for public release through the iPhone App Store on July 3. To begin, it will only be available for the iPhone, but Bosco plans to expand to the Android market, as well.
He hopes the program will be downloaded by 1,000 to 2,000 people during the first weekend of its release. He's working with Mashable to publicize the launch date and is trying to get it featured on ABC's "Shark Tank," where investors listen to pitches from entrepreneurs.
Randid's Facebook page already has about 1,500 "likes."
As more people start using the app, the breadth of images will grow and so will the app's popularity, Bosco says.
Users can share three photos a day using the free version. The paid version, which costs 99 cents, allows users to send and receive an unlimited number.
To maintain high standards, Randid will automatically screen photos for inappropriate content, using Facebook's filtering system. Users must have a Facebook account to use Randid.
Also, because users choose which photos to share, they can exclude pictures that are too personal or otherwise don't want the world to see.
The program also allows users to flag objectionable images. Once an image is flagged three times, it's removed from Randid.
As the program gains users, Bosco plans to release new features, including a ranking system for the most popular, or most shared photos, along with hashtags that allow users to view categories of photos. He would like to offer prizes for best photo of the week and other contests.
Also, he plans to introduce a commenting system.
The software was developed by Rocksauce Studios in Austin, Texas.
Bosco's mother, Karen Bosco, invested the seed money to get him started. The first thing he wants to do with the money he makes from Randid is to pay her back, he said.