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Ten Things Developers Want to Build on Pinterest’s New Platform (Including Hot or Not for Hedgehogs)

The visual scrapbooking service, having learned from Twitter and Facebook's mistakes, will allow access to a select few to start.


This week, visual scrapbooking service Pinterest made its first big move toward becoming a developer platform, allowing third-party apps to access the trove of pictures its members post to the service.

It announced it was beta testing its Application Programming Interface, which would allow other developers to reproduce its data, such as the pictures people post, onto other sites and services, provided the users have given explicit permission to do so.

Pinterest is being careful with its platform play. It’s asking developers to apply for access and only plans to grant it to tens of them in the beginning, then hundreds in the next few months, depending on how it goes.

“We’ve learned a lot from looking at other platforms [like Facebook and Twitter] and the churn that’s happened there,” Pinterest’s product manager Joshua Inkenbrandt told Re/code.

Pinterest’s wariness hasn’t dampened hackers’ enthusiasm. “It’s smart they’re going slow, but it’s annoying as a developer,” independent app maker Josh Dance said. “I want access now!”

We spoke with ten developers from different companies to find out what they’re hoping to build if they’re accepted into the beta test program. From “Hot or Not for hedgehogs” to an automated savings app, the ideas ran the gamut.

Michael Schonfeld — co-founder, Social Rank (audience analytics tool)

I want to give Pinterest users the ability to better understand their communities. If a company has a million followers on Pinterest, they don’t know who these people are. How many of those are female and how many of those are into tech, or arts, or music?

Andrew Torba — CEO, Kuhcoon (runs paid media campaigns for companies on Facebook)

We want to build a lightweight marketing app that lets marketers currently using Pinterest see what’s working and what’s not. How are their pins performing? What pins are doing well? What pins aren’t doing so hot? These are general analytics you see on Pinterest, but [we would do them] in a more beautiful way and maybe [include] email weekly reports.

Michael Jaconi, Chris Maddern — co-founders, Button (deep-linking service that connects apps to one another)

Jaconi: There’s a million use cases that excite us. The ability to be inspired by a travel destination and connect it into services or hospitality companies is very key to Button’s path. We want to identify where you want to go [by using your posts on Pinterest] and give you a button to fulfill that dream — book at Airbnb or reserve a stay at HotelTonight, [for instance].

Maddern: As developers, we want to play with it and hack on it. Until you get your hands on [it], it’s hard to say what makes sense.

Erik Akterin — CTO, Qapital (a mobile banking app that automates money saving)

The core of [our] app is about setting up savings goals (such as a trip you want to go on or a thing you want to buy) and then automating savings for these goals by setting up rules (such as round[ing] up all purchases or “Guilty Pleasure” where you tax yourself every time you go to your favorite fast food place). [We want users to have] a goals Pinterest board that is automatically synched to Qapital.

Daniel Nordh — curator, founder (a visual notekeeping and brainstorming app with text support)

Curator is aiming to be the best mobile presentation tool, pulling in content from your Dropbox, Instagram, Evernote and any other cloud accounts. [Pinterest has] been one of our users’ favorite requests so we’ll be building proper Pinterest support in Curator as soon as we get access to the API.

Ben Basche — product manager, HeyNow (messenger app)

Some of the most exciting uses of the API would be custom shopping experiences, mapping them to different ways to buy things. But that’s so close to what Pinterest is going to do to monetize in the future that people who do that are doing it at their own risk.

Lachlan Campbell — creator, Noodles (app to keep a private “cookbook” of recipes)

Pinterest is a great platform for finding new recipes, but it’s not ideal for keeping or cooking with them. [It] can provide Noodles with a social and discovery layer. [You] could see and save recipes your friends have pinned, share Noodles recipes on Pinterest to a wider audience and save recipes you discover on Pinterest to Noodles.

Alibek Datbayev — software engineer, Ipsy (subscription makeup)

I’m investigating how to apply it to Ipsy and possibly integrate it somehow with beauty products. If you’re familiar enough with, you might notice feed from Instagram hashtagged #ipsy. Maybe we can do something similar to this.

Josh Dance — creator, Cute Fluffy Battle

I’m working on a silly side project called It presents two pictures of cute animals and you have to choose which one is cuter. It’s like Hot or Not for hedgehogs.

There’s a lot of people who have cute animal boards [on Pinterest]. If I get access to the API, then people can log into Pinterest, download the boards and upload the pictures [to my app.] That would help me to expand quickly, because a lot of people pin recipes or health exercises or wedding flowers, so instead of just a cute fluffy battle it will be a ranking tool.

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