GoPro relaunches its smartphone app as Quik, adds private feed

Technology

GoPro is releasing a new version of its main smartphone app that will now be called “Quik.” The new app will remain the main interface for connecting to and controlling GoPro cameras, but it is also getting new features, including one called “mural” that’s sort of like a private Instagram feed meant to help people organize their favorite images and videos — regardless of whether they were taken by a GoPro camera — and save them from the “abyss of your camera roll,” GoPro CEO Nick Woodman says in an interview.

Close followers of GoPro’s efforts in the software space know that the company already once launched an app called Quik way back in 2016 that was all about auto-editing footage to a beat. But that app has not been supported for a while and will no longer be available to download after today with the launch of the new Quik app.

The auto-editing feature will live on in the new app, which launches on iOS and Android today. It also has a few other features like a video editing suite (including a speed adjustment tool), themes and filters, and unlimited original quality cloud backup of everything posted to the mural feed. GoPro is charging $1.99 per month or $9.99 per year for those features, though the basic camera connection and control side the app will remain free to use for people who don’t want to pay for the new stuff. Customers who already pay for GoPro’s Plus subscription service (which includes unlimited cloud storage, live-streaming functionality, and camera replacement) will get Quik’s features for free.

Woodman sees the new Quik app as something of a culmination of a yearslong effort at GoPro to diversify away from hardware that started around 2013 and 2014. And by gearing the app at a wider audience, not just GoPro users, he thinks there’s great opportunity to be had.

In fact, that was the strategy with the original Quik app, which let users mash together photos and videos from their camera roll without requiring the use of a GoPro. And it worked: Woodman says that app still had “roughly eight million monthly active users” despite having been essentially abandoned by the company.

While he doesn’t expect all of those users to pony up for the paid version of the new app, he thinks many will appreciate the mural feature because he still doesn’t see any good solutions to that camera roll clutter problem — especially not albums. “Albums suck. Albums are just miniature camera rolls,” he says. “You don’t go into albums [thinking] ‘This is going to be a super awesome experience. Hey honey, let’s AirPlay our album to the TV and kick back and reminisce.’ You don’t do that.”

Users can build out the mural feed in the Quik app a few different ways. One is fairly straightforward: after you open the Quik app and give it access to your camera roll, you can scroll through and add photos to the mural feed or to “events” (not albums, of course) on the feed. The more attractive option, in Woodman’s eyes, is to add photos and videos you take on the fly using the share sheet every time you capture a “keeper.” (Users can also text or email photos to the mural feed.)

That said, Woodman thinks people may use the feed in all sorts of ways, like saving images that inspire them or for planning a project, a la Pinterest. Others will just use it for their GoPro footage and photos and nothing else.

“It can be all of those things,” he says. “I think that what we’re solving for people is like a very relatable and widespread problem: I don’t have a convenient, private place to put content that matters most to me, and you know what, sharing it to your Instagram feed ain’t working because there’s that tension of, ‘Well, this matters to me, but I know it’s not going to really matter to anybody that I would socialize it with.’”

GoPro has carved out a decent supplemental business so far with its Plus subscription service, with nearly 800,000 paying subscribers as of the end of 2020 (the equivalent of just shy of roughly $40 million of annual revenue). But with Quik, Woodman sees not just a great business opportunity or a chance to reach new customers. He sees it serving a higher purpose.

“Not to bash on social feeds, like there’s a lot of good from them, we get a lot of inspiration from what other people are doing. But damn it, man, you can get a lot of inspiration from just looking at what you’ve been doing with your life. It’s pretty awesome,” he says. “This is the cosmic moment where I point to the deeper meaning behind what it is that we’re doing for people with Quik, because I think we’re really going to help people develop a stronger sense of self-esteem, self-worth, and ultimately happiness. You don’t have to find happiness in what other people are doing. There’s a ton of happiness to be found in what you’re doing with your life and and Quik helps you bring that to the forefront.”

Philosophical value aside, bringing more customers under the GoPro tent has long been a goal for Woodman; it’s a big part of what inspired the company to make a more concerted push into software. But whether or not GoPro turns the new Quik app into a moneymaker, that it’s attempting another shift in its software strategy is on its own a sign that the company is back on solid ground. It spent the last few years pruning its camera lineup back to the essentials, quickly scuttling a dalliance with the drone market, and focusing more on selling directly to consumers. That has the company back in the black and willing to take chances again.

“We’re known for enabling amazing content. It’s just until now, it’s always required a GoPro,” Woodman says. “[But it’s] too limiting to just serve people through our hardware alone. Let’s also serve people through software. Meet them where they are. And we can build a phenomenal business.”