Cluster Labs

Cluster is a small team of designers and engineers working to create best in class mobile experiences. Almost all our apps are built on top of our single core platform and are regularly featured for promotion on Apple's App Store and Google Play. Some of our writing is used as unofficial guides for mobile development.

Apps

Most of our products are focused providing experiences that empower people to enhance their relationships with close family and friends. We also occasionally release tools we believe will be beneficial for the design and developer community.

  • Cluster

    Private group sharing with friends and family.

    Cluster gives you a private space to share photos and memories with the people you choose, away from social media. Make your own groups and share pics, videos, comments, and chat!

  • Screenshotter

    The simplest way to organize and manage mobile screenshots.

    Screenshotter makes it incredibly simple to organize and manage the screenshots you take with your iPhone. It automatically identifies screenshots and makes it easy to organize them into folders.

  • Daily Kiddo

    The best way to share with your kid's biggest fans.

    Daily Kiddo lets you share all your kid photos and videos with the people who really want to see every single one. Add a kid, invite your family to the album, and snap away!

  • Tripcast

    A living travel journal for your friends back home.

    Tripcast lets you share your travel photos with the people who want to see everything, not just the highlights. Start a trip, invite your friends and family to the album, and give them live photo updates from the road!

  • Homeroom

    Give parents a seat in the classroom.

    Homeroom is an easy way to share what's happening in your classroom with your students' parents. Upload your photos safely to private classroom albums only parents and teachers can see, away from the rest of the internet.

  • ChurchSnaps

    Private sharing for church groups and mission trips.

    ChurchSnaps is a fun, easy way to share moments from mission trips and church events with the whole congregation. Create private albums where everyone you invite can add their own photos and make comments, separate from traditional social media.

Writing

Building a startup is hard, and we continually rely on information shared by people who are facing the same challenges we are. When we feel like we learn something that hasn't been written about much, we try to share as much as possible. Here is a list of some of the things we've learned, as well as some of our ideas for the future.

  • The Right Way to Ask Users for iOS Permissions

    How Cluster dramatically increased iOS access conversion

    Cluster is the first native mobile app I’ve designed, and the experience has taught me a lot about things to consider that aren’t necessarily a concern on the web. When creating a web app, you’re just building a page a user visits. But when creating a native experience, you’re not only asking them to download something but also probably asking them to give you access to their location or personal data. It’s a completely different relationship. Because of this dynamic, we’ve spent significant time at Cluster on small interactions that increase users’ comfort and trust. One area we’ve focused on in particular is how we ask iOS users for access to things on their phone. Our biggest takeaway: don’t ask a user for access until you really need it, and make sure it’s crystal clear what they will get in return.

  • The unexpected costs of third-party login

    Login with Facebook is less beneficial and more work than you think

    People have been signing up for Cluster for almost two years now. We’ve watched dozens of new users sign up during live user tests, and we’ve analyzed our signup data and answered countless support inquiries to glean a pile of insights. When we first launched in February 2013, we offered one simple login option: Login with Facebook. We made the decision in a hurry and didn’t fully grasp the long-term implications of our choice.

  • How to Run Live User Testing Sessions

    The 3-part series on getting high quality, actionable feedback

    While rapid iteration is wonderful, at times we also slow down and make more deliberate decisions about larger changes. When this happens, we run user testing sessions, where we recruit and bring in potential users to walk through the app and give us feedback. Earlier this year, we were working on a big update. We decided to use this opportunity to bring in users and ask a bunch of questions about various prototypes.

  • How Google Can Leverage Facebook’s Biggest Weakness

    And why the future is all about private sharing

    When Google initially launched Plus, it was clear they just wanted users to move over from Facebook. Google+ didn’t give users a new way to interact, it just copied another social network’s model. I believe Google not only can build social products, but has a better shot than Facebook at building what the next generation of social networking users want.

  • On-the-fly media upload processing with Google Go

    How we make mobile photo and video uploads fast

    Mobile uploads to Cluster typically happen over slow mobile networks, and these uploads can take quite a long time — they also fail often and need to be retried. As a result, we have separated uploads from normal backend API requests — we don’t want these finicky upload requests contending for the same infrastructure we use to serve user data quickly.

  • How I Learned to Stop Panicking and Love the Hack

    Perfect code doesn’t matter as much as you think

    In January 2010, I moved from Chicago to San Francisco to work at YouTube. After an amazing interview with super-smart folks, I was excited to learn how to develop software the Right Way in the big leagues. In the end, I learned more than I had hoped for — but only after coming to terms with the Right Way being nothing like what I expected.

  • Refining our focus as users stretched the product

    Cluster’s Evolution

    It’s great when users find lots of ways to use your app. Sometimes they unlock things you never intended. The important part of the process is to listen and learn. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past year at Cluster. We’ve spent the past few months studying users and redesigning the app to focus on private social sharing.

  • The right way to implement Facebook login for your app

    A technical guide

    Logging in with Facebook theoretically solves a lot of problems for app developers. But it’s not overly clear the best way to go about it, and many examples on the web advocate the wrong strategy. Here’s what we’ve learned integrating Login with Facebook in Cluster.

Open Source

Cluster Labs uses a lot of open source software, so we like to share things we build with the community. Here are some of the things we've shared.

  • ClusterPrePermissions

    Utility for iOS that lets developers display pre-permissions dialogs.

    Cluster's reusable pre-permissions utility lets developers ask the users for photos or contacts access before making the system-based request. We explain why to use this approach in this post.

  • FluidGridAdapter

    An Android ListView adapter that arranges images in a fluid grid.

    Arranges cells into a stacked photo view. Callbacks for loading the image into the view and for when a single cell is tapped. Allows for custom cell padding, row height, and cell background.

  • Sketch to App Store

    Generate App Store images for all iPhone sizes from Sketch.

    With the new iPhones, it's a huge pain to create screenshots for iTunes Connect. Sketch to App Store is a template that makes it very simple to generate App Store images for all iPhone sizes from Sketch.

Team

The Cluster Labs team is an incredibly efficient group of engineers and designers who know how to rapidly build and launch apps across mobile and web platforms.

  • Taylor Hughes

    Engineer & CTO

    Taylor led frontend efforts to launch a new homepage and sitewide redesign at YouTube and did significant work on the video page that billions of people use per month.

  • Brenden Mulligan

    Designer & CEO

    Brenden is a product designer who previously founded and sold two startups: Onesheet and ArtistData. He also created TipList and MorningPics, among others.

  • Rizwan Sattar

    iOS Engineer

    Riz was one of the first people on the planet to work with the iOS SDK, being sent by AOL to Apple to build the AIM client presented at the iPhone SDK Launch.