Collage-style “moodboards” are going viral on TikTok — and so is the app that makes them possible. Pinterest’s recently launched collage maker Shuffles has risen in the App Store’s Top Charts thanks to demand from Gen Z users taking advantage of the new creative expression tool to create, publish, and share visual content. These “aesthetic” collages are then set to music and posted on TikTok or shared privately with friends or the wider Shuffles community.
Despite having invite-only status, Shuffles has spent some time as the #1 Lifestyle app in the US App Store.
In the week of August 15-22, 2022, Shuffles was ranked No. 5 in the Top Lifestyle apps by downloads on iPhone in the US, according to statistics from app intelligence company data.ai, up 72 places in the rankings compared to the previous week. It was the #1 Lifestyle app on the iPhone on Sunday, August 21, and broke into the Top 20 Non-Gaming Apps on iOS as a whole in the US that same day, after rising 22 positions from the day before.
In addition, the Sensor Tower company discovered that the app is now number 66 in the US iPhone App Store and the number 1 app in Ireland, New Zealand and the UK. It is number 2 in Australia and number 3 in Canada.
First launched in late July 2022, the app has seen 211,000 iOS downloads worldwide in the month it was live — 160,000 of those downloads were in the US, data.ai says. Meanwhile, Sensor Tower estimates that the app has had about 338,000 installs in that time.
Since it’s still not “publicly launched,” Shuffles seems to be an out-the-gate hit for Pinterest, which has reinvented itself for the video first era with products like Idea Pins, similar to TikTok, and live video shopping on Pinterest TV.
Likewise, Shuffles is also targeting a younger audience that is using social media in a new way: for self-expression, not just networking.
The new app allows users to create their own collages using Pinterest’s photo library or by taking photos of objects they want to include using the camera. A clever feature is the use of in-house built-in technology that allows users to clip objects from their photos, their Pinterest boards or by searching for new Pins.
This is similar to the upcoming image crop feature in iOS 16, which is arguably one of the nicer additions that comes with Apple’s new mobile operating system. Here you can effortlessly copy an object from one of your photos — like your dog, for example — and then paste that crop anywhere you want, like in an iMessage chat. This feels a bit magical, as all you have to do is touch and hold to lift the image off the background.
Shuffles make cropping images even easier. When you search for a photo or take a photo, the app often automatically identifies the object in the photos and you just need to tap the “Add” button to place it in your collage, where it can be resized and over it screen can be moved. At other times, you can use the included tool to cut out the portion of the image you want to use in your creation.
You can also choose to add effects and movement to the images to make them shake, spin, pulse, rotate and more. For example, you can add an image of a record player and animate it so that it actually spins.
The finished product can be saved locally to your device, shared with friends in a message, or published with a hashtag in a dedicated community. These hashtags can be viewed in the discovery section of the app, where collages tagged with popular hashtags, such as #moodboard, #vintage or #aesthetic, are also shown.
While the app makes for great TikToks, it also helps drive traffic to Pinterest. The objects in users’ collages are linked to Pinterest, and a tap takes you to a dedicated page for the item in question, which you can then open to view directly in Pinterest. In the case of items for sale, such as fall fashion or home decor, users can also purchase the item by clicking through to the retailer’s website.
Demand for the app has been helped by its exclusivity for the time being.
Users need an invite code to get in — and they can only get it from an existing Shuffles user who only has five invites to share.
Invitation codes have often been used to stimulate demand for new products, after the early 2000s as a growth mechanism for Google’s new email system Gmail. But in later years, its use felt less authentic as it became a way for app marketers to get users to post to social media in exchange for early access to a new product.
However, with Pinterest, the use of the invite code mechanism is not tied to a request that users take some action to be let in. Instead, you have to know someone to get an invite, which has led some TikTokers to complain about begging friends for codes.
(Beg no more: Pinterest has given TechCrunch readers an invite code to use for Shuffles: FTSNFUFC. When that runs out, you can visit Pinterest’s Instagram or Twitter account for future code drops. This is not an ad or paid promotion. , we’re just sharing the code!)
Pinterest told TechCrunch that the app is invite-only as it hasn’t technically launched publicly.
Shuffles, we’re told, is the first-ever standalone app created by Pinterest’s in-house incubator, TwoTwenty. The team, which was also involved in the creation of Pinterest TV, is focused on researching and testing new product ideas and iterating ideas that are gaining popularity.
As for why the app resonates with Gen Z, it seems to be the combination of the technology used to simplify collage making with the desire for creative expression tools that serve the social habits of the population.
“The app is seeing burgeoning download momentum, targeting younger users. It builds on the power of creativity and user-generated content, which has been popularized by TikTok in many ways,” Lexi Sydow, head of Insights at data.ai, told TechCrunch. “Especially for younger generations, photo editing and creative projects are more mobile-first than ever, leveraging robust mobile apps to create robust projects that once required advanced desktop software. The app goes one step further by collaborating with simple embedded tools that require multiple steps or coordination across multiple apps.” , she explains.
“Users manage their mood boards and vibes, which touches on a similar cultural thread as Spotify’s visual-first campaigns showcasing your unique music taste. The app is inherently dependent on Gen Z’s social habits, with users using social media apps to share with their networks and close circles of friends. The app has so far received 4.31 out of 5 stars since launch, with 72% of all ratings being 5 stars,” Sydow added.
Shuffles is currently only for iOS and a free download on the App Store.