Picture storytelling app Frontback comes out of hiding with new update

Photo-sharing app Frontback (which, as its name implies, takes photos from the front and back cameras on an iPhone simultaneously) built on hype throughout the summer of 2013 and launched with relative fanfare in August, thanks to the selfie photo trend and the popularity of similar apps.
Self-timerBut after raising $3 million in the fall , the company’s eight-person team in San Francisco fell silent for a few months, introducing updates to its app with no fanfare. On Thursday, the company released a new version of its iPhone (s aapl) app, and spoke up about the health of the company.
Frontback 1.7 fills in standard features that were were missing from the previous version. Notifications are finally included, enabling users to see new pictures from those they follow. There is also a self-timer that allows users to take shots of what they see, then prepare for a good selfie reaction.
However, comments still don’t exist on the platform, and Spencer Chen, the company’s head of marketing, notes that comments are one of many features that the company is still trying to navigate in the midst of differentiating itself from the competition — which has recently increased with the arrival of Biz Stone’s Jelly.
“We’re thinking of letting people comment in non-text ways,” Chen said. “I think our imagery is going to be what sets us apart — we’re avoiding trends like messaging and Q&A.”
The update is important, but it’s more promising that Frontback has experienced growth while being out of the spotlight. Chen says that the business is growing most internationally — at a rate of three non-U.S. users to one U.S. user — particularly in areas like Japan and Brazil. Right now, 75 percent of Frontback’s user base exists outside of America and 45 percent emerging mobile markets like Japan. The company did not share actual numbers.
While Chen admits that Frontback has not focused on marketing its product, that focus will change shortly. The company is hiring Frontback ambassadors to host Meetups, starting in the U.S. and Japan. Chen says that the company wants to continue its grassroots growth, which has worked well for it internationally, by engaging with its users in person. But it’s still difficult to know what that growth looks like without any firm user numbers.