Apparently caught off guard by strong demand for Xim, a mobile photo-sharing app from its Fuse Labs researchers, a regretful Microsoft has released it globally for Android and Windows Phone, while promising iOS support is due soon.
“We are genuinely humbled by the great response we have received for Xim thus far and regret the frustration our delay of worldwide availability caused some of you,” wrote Fuse Labs official Colleen Estrada in a blog post Friday.
People from a variety of countries, including France and New Zealand, had complained on the Fuse Labs Facebook page about not having access to Xim, which has been available until now in the U.S. and Canada.
“The Xim team has been working to address the technical aspects of authenticating international phone numbers, a processes they recently completed,” said a spokesman for Microsoft via email.
It’s not clear from Estrada’s blog post how many times Xim has been installed since its initial, geographically limited release several weeks ago, but its page at the Google Play store states Android users have downloaded it between 5,000 and 10,000 times.
If Xim has struck a nerve and promises to take off, maybe Microsoft will have to devote more resources to it. In her blog post, Estrada makes a reference to “our small team.”
Fuse Labs is a Microsoft unit that partners with other product and research teams “to ideate, develop, and deliver new social, real-time, and media-rich experiences for home and work.” Its other projects include the Socl social networking site and the Docs.com Office apps for Facebook.
Xim, named as a play on the word “simple,” lets people share photos stored in their smartphones with hand-picked friends, but with a few twists. For example, the photos remain accessible to friends for a limited span of between 30 minutes and 2 hours. In addition, the owner of the photos controls their display on friends’ devices, as in a manual slideshow.
The most common use case for Xim, according to Microsoft, is the sharing of photos in a party setting, so that multiple people don’t have to huddle around one person all looking at one tiny screen, or pass the phone around the room.