Audience: Product Management, Customer Experience
Read Time: 3 minutes
When building mobile applications, certain feature design, product requirements, and deliverables are discussed. The one requirements/feature that I often find under-appreciated is camera integration. Why would your mobile app need to utilize the internal camera? While some would argue voice, messaging and browsing are priorities for customers, the ability to capture photos/videos is a critical piece that makes these devices special. Yet, the majority of mobile apps do not have camera access.
In this post, I provide the possible use cases and business case rational to start integrating the camera into your mobile app roadmap. Regardless of what your mobile application does today, there’s value in integrating the camera into it. You might say “My app is a good coffee locator app. Why do I need a camera in it?”
- Why should any 3rd party provider be the middle of your customer’s story? You and your customer are telling the story together. This isn’t just being able to give application “Gallery Access.”. This involves having your mobile app and customer use the camera to telling the story together. See What Your Customer Sees.
- Many mobile applications today utilize WiFi and Bluetooth for location awareness which helps in reducing the friction of delivering experience. However, what about “building engagement” side vs. the “reduce the friction side”? A customer who doesn’t need to switch between their built-in camera app and your mobile app will allow you to partner together on creating the experience they want. Here are the potential use cases for your mobile application having camera functionality.
- Use Case #1 – Commerce QR Codes – Before you claim they have no value look at the majority of physical to digital experience on-boarding and I would say the QR code is faster than web browsing. It’s used on packaging and the Asian market loves QR codes (https://a16z.com/2017/08/11/qr-codes-in-china/). It can also ease registration and KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements too. Here’s an example of how the scooter company BIRD (https://www.bird.co/) uses them.
Use Case #2 – Get “in the middle” of your customer’s creativity story. If your customer takes photos, don’t you want to be closer to what photos they value in the context of using your app? Be of service and “help” them tell their story with your brand or problem-solving solution.
Use Case #3 – Augmented Reality mapping. Cameras are mapping tools. Integrating the camera’s view enables that spacial mapping (Magic Leap, ARkit) of the space which can help construct the spatial mapping of your business or location of your customer. Here’s an example from ARuleR. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.grymala.aruler&hl=en_US
Use Case #4 – Lens – Image Recognition. Microsoft and Google Lens have even created an app for assisting users with recognizing text and objects to better inform. Become a machine learning company and help customers find similar brands, styles, and choices to the object that they explore with your app. Customer laziness in the journey to discovery and overcoming conversion friction is an important problem to solve as a partner. Additionally, the photos and storing of them help you learn from their laziness creative experimentation.
Here’s how to build one yourself. https://medium.freecodecamp.org/ios-coreml-vision-image-recognition-3619cf319d0b .
- Use Case #5 – Customer Success and Support – ITSM – ServiceDesk, Zendesk, ServiceNow – Be a problem solver for your customer and have them insert photo/video directly into a ticket.
These 5 use cases demonstrate that there are many opportunities for engagement with your customers where the ROI of camera integration merits an investment. Furthermore, the acceptance of the application’s camera permissions explicitly opt-ins them to the usage with your ecosystem. The camera permissions build an acknowledgment from your customer for the value exchange for usage.
In conclusion, I’m not advocating that you build some bloatware mobile application that has tons of photo filters/management capabilities and attempts to compete with another photo application. However, the “Level of Effort” (LOE) today to integrate camera functionality through development kits isn’t too great and the reward on effort (ROE) definitely returns in terms of getting closer to Seeing What Your Customer Sees. # SWYCS. This an empathic way of doing business and providing:
Possible Technical Stack Requirements:
iOS: AV Foundation, an Apple system framework that exists on macOS and iOS, along with watchOS and tvOS. In many instances, using Apple’s default APIs such as UIImagePickerController will suffice. Make sure you actually need to use AV Foundation before you begin this tutorial.
Android: The Android framework includes support for various cameras and camera features available on devices, allowing you to capture pictures and videos in your applications. This document discusses a quick, simple approach to image and video capture and outlines an advanced approach for creating custom camera experiences for your users.
A Camera component for React Native. Also supports barcode scanning!
A Flutter plugin for iOS and Android allowing access to the device cameras. https://pub.dartlang.org/packages/camera
Let me know how your comments and challenges in your mobile development process to achieving the goal of adding value and engagement with your customers with the camera.