Automattic’s Planned Gravatar App Morphs Into a Selfies App for Android


Earlier this year, Automattic’s Toni Schneider asked Gravatar users what platform should be first to receive the Gravatar mobile app. No details on the purpose of the Gravatar app were revealed at the time but it turns out that the team has been busy developing a photo app.

While working on the Gravatar app, they realized that people don’t want to change their gravatars every day, so they decided to put their efforts toward an app that is likely to be used more often. According to Schneider, the planned Gravatar app “morphed into a Selfies app,” which is now available for Android featuring the tagline “Put Your Selfie Out There.”

We noticed that taking pictures of ourselves to update our Gravatars was something we only wanted to do every month or so, but then we started taking selfies and sharing them with each other and that became a daily and very fun habit. So our Gravatar app morphed into a Selfies app, and it’s now ready for the world to play with!

The app was not built using the WordPress API or the API but is powered by a yet-to-be released Gravatar API, according to Automattic employee Marcus Kazmierczak.

For those who don’t have an Android device, the Selfie app opens with an invitation to take a selfie, which you can then filter and share to a public stream.


Users can authenticate via Google in order to easily create an account. The Selfie app has a social aspect built in that allows users to post reactions as a caption or photo response, designed to create “mini stories.”

The release post, titled “Something Funny Happened” gives the impression that creation of the Selfies app was something akin to a happy accident. Automattic says the app is still in its infancy and has not yet confirmed when the intended Gravatar app will be available. Reaction has been mixed. While some see it as an interesting experiment on mobile, others wonder why Automattic is using its highly skilled talent to “democratize selfies.”

Selfies is an interesting choice for Automattic to release, as their app experiments are usually tightly integrated with its core products and services or built to showcase WordPress as an application framework. From the sidelines, this app appears to do neither, although it certainly has the fun factor built in. If you want to test the Selfies app, you can download it from Google Play and leave feedback on the app’s P2 blog.


10 responses to “Automattic’s Planned Gravatar App Morphs Into a Selfies App for Android”

  1. With all the excitement and speculation surrounding the Gravatar mobile app, I certainly never thought I’d see a Selfie app come out of it. At least they are not completely through with the Gravatar app initiative. There’s also still no details on what that app will entail.

  2. :-|

    Maybe I don’t get it… Not sure why I’d post selfies there rather than on one of my existing social networks. I would have thought there were more valuable things Automattic could have been working on. Still, I guess it’s only a side project.

    Not sure about whether Gravatar needs an app either. If I’m going to download an app, it’ll only be for something I’m likely to use at least weekly.

    Still, I wouldn’t put it past Automattic to make both of these work – I just don’t see it at this point.

    • I’m right there with you, my initial reaction to Selfie app is “Meh” and “That’s what they’ve been working on?” But we know that it’s only a side effect of developing the Gravatar app. So there’s still hope!

      Maybe Gravatar becomes the next Facebook :P

      • I’ve always thought an open source’ish BuddyPress/WordPress/ mashup would be a good way to take on Facebook. But it’s been a very long time and nothing has happened on that front, so I’m assuming it never will. I think it’s an appealing idea though. I’d love a way to connect my blogs together with other sites into an extended social network lattice.

  3. Something like this could expand signups for Gravitar from a new, low tech market. Since Gravatar accounts are now tied to accounts it also grows the account numbers for that service. It’s conceivable Automattic could use this app as a low barrier to entry service to ultimately grow their main business, sort of like Apple does with their mobile devices.

  4. It’s cool to see Automattic branch out, but I have to question the thought process and methodology behind not only launching Android first, but basing that opinion on a poll of 542 Gravatar related developers. Especially when you are asking the people polled what OS they’d like to see a Gravatar app, which Selfie most certainly is not.

    I don’t even think the developers polled are the most likely demographic for users of an app focused on taking selfies. Statistically “millennials” (I hate those terms) are the largest group of people that take and post selfies online and within that demographic most are either using iPhone’s or have an Android but would rather have an iPhone. These are stats you can look up.

    The explanation for why Android first doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you’re going to launch an Android app out of the gate then you need to launch an iPhone app at the same time. If you’re going to launch for a single mobile platform first AND your app is focused on photography… and more importantly selfies… then I couldn’t see launching on anything other than iOS first.

    Other selfie apps have traditionally failed miserably. Justin Bieber had all of his celebrity muscle within a prime demographic of people that take selfie’s and his app was a total dud. It’s an extremely tough space to break into, especially when you can already use Facebook and Twitter to post selfies and then of course you have Instagram.

    But enough about why a selfie app and why Android first… why is the camera icon in such an awkward location? It’s located in the top right. This is an Android first app. With Android phones getting increasingly larger and larger it’s going to be uncomfortable trying to tap that camera icon with your thumb on your 20″ Android phone. The camera icon should be on the lower part of the screen so that it can be easily reached with your thumb while holding the device with one hand.

    Like I said, it’s cool to see Automattic branching out. But this isn’t exactly what I expected.

    • To add to what I said above…

      If Selfie drives Gravatar adoption and gets more people to create Gravatars as i’m assuming you can do so through this app (I could be wrong) then that would be one benefit of this app.

      A Gravatar specific app isn’t exactly very interesting and I doubt would get much use. It looks like they’re trying to get creative with Gravatar adoption by doing it in the guise of Selfie. Which is a smart idea.

      But it has to have the adoption and has to be available on both platforms for it to be effective.

      I hope for Gravatar adoptions sake that it does succeed… but it’s a tough space to break into.

  5. Noticed that the “reactions are mixed” links to my Twitter comment. Just to be clear, my comment was mostly positive. Looked at the right way I think it’s an interesting and intriguing experiment.


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