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Physical Photo Albums From Your iPhone

Tech insiders call the successful acquisition of a start-up an “exit.” The implication is that the people who founded the start-up have accomplished their mission, and now they’re out. That hasn’t been the case for the team formerly known as Yobongo. They’re about to release something unique and wonderful for shutterbugs.

Six months to the day after Mixbook acquired Yobongo, the former Yobongans are lifting the curtain on Mosaic. It’s an iPhone app for printing physical photo books, turning pixels into atoms. You can sign up for access starting today, and the first 100 RWW readers who click this link will get in early.

Mixbook’s Caleb Elston has shown me the app, and when you get your hands on it, it will surprise you. Its every digital surface has been crafted to match the physical book you’ll receive in the mail. And that book will look like a dream object from the future, like a totem from the film Inception, more real than real, all because you made it out of pixels before the atoms arrived at your door.

Photo albums have two problems that the iPhone can solve. They don’t start spontaneously, and they take a long time to finish. Because physical photo books take so much work, we tend to reserve them for weddings, anniversaries, and other major life moments. And even then, they’re a chore.

Mosaic brings the process right to the place where our photos live: the smartphone. The team learned from Yobongo’s chat rooms that most services need to be rethought entirely to be primarily mobile experiences. When this app launches, it will present you with the chance to compile every day into a physical album if you want to.

“People won’t spend 10 hours building a photo album about an everyday thing,” Elston says, “but they will spend 60 seconds.”

The team came together to build artisanal software, but they’re loving this opportunity to build physical products. “Whatever I work on next, I want it to be physical,” Elston says. “Taking the digital bits and putting them into physical atoms is where the value came from.”

Mixbook is debuting the Mosaic concept today, and the team looks forward to hearing user feedback. If you sign up on heymosaic.com, you’ll get the app as soon as it’s available. And the first 100 RWW readers will get it quicker.

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