How often do you find yourself cruising through the apps on your smartphone and wondering: How did they do that? Welcome to the Great Apps series, inspired by the Intel AppUpSM developer program. First up? Hipstamatic, the preferred camera app of analog nostalgists and digital enthusiasts alike.

In just under a year, Hipstamatic has become a wildly successful centerpiece for software development company Synthetic Corp. The app, which wittily mimics an old-school film camera—the kind your dad was always dragging out on family vacations, and which always yielded unpredictable shots— has helped introduce classic lo-fi photography to a whole generation of snap-happy smart-phoners.

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The story of Hipstamatic's origination goes as such: Back in the '80s brothers Bruce and Winston Dorbowski created a simple plastic camera, meant to cost less than a roll of film. They released just 157 of the Lomo-like models, called the Hipstamatic 100 (see where this is going?), before being killed by a drunk driver. Fast forward to 2009 when Bruce and Winston's older brother Richard, started a blog dedicated to his siblings' memory and their camera. For years lo-fi fanatics heard rumors of the mythic Hipstamatic. Brother Richard copped to possessing three of them.

Enter Ryan Dorshorst and Lucas Buick, a couple of art school kids turned software developers looking to "redefine the line between analogue and digital photography" via mobile and social platforms. In the developers' own words, "The idea of a couple of guys from nowhere that set out to innovate and inspire an entire industry couldn't have possibly hit any closer to home." One road trip to northern Minnesota later and they had their hands on the holy grail of vintage cameras. And so Hipstamatic for the digital age was born. Well, at least that's what the marketing people at Synthetic Corp say.

Whether the story is true, or a clever promotion, it appears to have worked. Hipstamatic has been an undeniable hit for Synthetic Corp. Community director, Maria Estrada told Pocket-lint "Within the first month it started growing hype and making it to the top 10 apps in a few countries. Then we started seeing pictures pop up on Facebook and realized that...this was bigger than us."

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Much bigger, actually. Hipstamatic has become one of the most downloaded apps for iPhone, with over 1.4 million mobile users globally, in part because it continues to bring a refreshing sense of whimsy, and a distinct perspective to a field that can be cold and technical. Estrada goes on to say "We are rooted in the belief that art should be accessible, and that most people are creative until they're told otherwise. We set out to bring the power of creativity back to people by changing the way people see and experience the world, capture memories, and share them with friends, family, and the world."

And Hipstamatic does just that. It's amazing that something as seemingly trivial as a digital effect filter can clearly resonate with so many people, but with a few shrewd design choices, a fully committed developing team and an uncanny ability to tap into collective nostalgia, Hipstamatic has rightfully earned its place on top.

The Great Apps Series is inspired by Intel. Have you developed the next Great App? Join the Intel AppUpSM developer program and you could get up to $25,000 in funding so you can develop and distribute your app to multiple app stores powered by Intel AppUp! Click here to sign up and submit now.

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