A new program at Walgreen Co. lets users print photos in stores directly from their smartphones. This has a unique twist, however, since Walgreen is also opening up the new program to developers who will be able to build on the software, and integrate it into Web services and smartphone applications (apps), with the new Walgreens QuickPrints software development kit (SDK).
Walgreens will hold its first Mobile Phone Hack Day on Aug. 11 in downtown Chicago, and is inviting developers to come learn about the new system and collaborate with other developers. Of course, “hack,” in this sense refers to people tinkering with software and technology, and not to cybercriminals who often use the same term for their activities.
Plenty of thought went into having an open application programming interface (API), and this comes through Walgreen teaming up with Palo Alto-based company Apigee, which developed the underlying API.
Behind all of this is an emerging trend in software development, which big companies are just starting to see the benefits in. By opening up the API to developers, a service that would normally only appear in a single application can suddenly be used by an unlimited number of systems, and reach a much broader audience. It also encourages developers to find completely new ways of using the system.
“Our new QuickPrints SDK enables third-party software developers to tap Walgreens Web services, building a broad selection of apps that deliver our convenient store capabilities to more customers,” said Abhi Dhar, Walgreen e-commerce chief technical officer, in a press release.
For Walgreens, this is a clever move, since the QuickPrints system this works with allows people to send images from their smartphones and have them printed at any Walgreens store nationwide, which they can then pick up about an hour later. In other words, the app connects directly with a service that can bring in physical customers (not just people browsing online) while also providing a service that’s in demand.
Software developers have added incentive to use the SDK in their own applications also, since Walgreen Co. will give them a share of any revenue that comes through their software. Thus, it’s already showing up in several major photo systems, including by Pinwheel, GroupShot, Kicksend, Pic Stitch, and StillShot, with others on the way.
“Today’s social media giants have demonstrated the power of APIs for creating a massive choice of apps around a business, and now APIs are becoming imperative for any business to thrive in the digital economy,” said Chet Kapoor, Apigee CEO, in the press release.
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