Like it or not, memes are part of how we communicate now — we even reference memes in our headlines. But iterating upon existing memes can be a needlessly clunky user experience. First, you need to find a meme template, then you need to figure out how to add text, even if that means reverse-engineering Instagram story drafts into a photo editing software.
But instead of scrolling through Google images, looking for a clean template of the latest meme, Antimatter‘s Reverse Meme Search app, released today for web and iOS, does the work for you. Just upload a meme, and the app will return you a blank slate. You can even long-hold a photo on apps like Reddit and Twitter, and when iOS prompts you to choose where to share the image, you can click on the Reverse app icon. Once the template is identified, you can use the app’s built-in photo editor to add text to the meme and choose the text’s font, color, size and location. You can’t use comic sans on the app, which feels like an intentional omission.
TechCrunch tested the app’s capabilities — a Spider-Man pointing meme was easy enough to reverse engineer, but we quickly stumped the Reverse Meme Search with a deep-fried Owen Wilson meme (it’s the first result on Google Images when you search “deep fried memes,” but not necessarily a template itself). But, fear not, the app comes with a free Meme Concierge. Less than an hour after submitting our request, we received an email with the subject, “We found your template: Owen Wilson Deep Fried Meme.”
To be honest, even those of us who got fine arts degree in college and still borrow the University’s Adobe subscription (don’t tell them!) probably couldn’t cleanly edit the text and emojis off of a deep fried meme on Photoshop (or, we just have other things to do). So this is actually a useful service, even if the “Meme Concierge” is just, as the email says, “a human with 16 GB of RAM and two USB-C ports.”
Antimatter founder Jonathan Libov wouldn’t tell us how the app works — is it essentially just a reverse image search, where the app needs to recognize what meme you’re looking for to send back the template you want? Or does the app use some tech wizardry to automatically clear the text from the image? It’s probably a reverse image search, seeing as we stumped the app with deep-fried Owen Wilson, but now, anyone who tries to make their own deep-fried Owen Wilson meme won’t need to use the concierge, because the template is now in their system. I even checked their work, uploading a copy of the image with added text.
“We envision this app as Intrapaper and Pinterest plus Figma. The two key features are A, collecting visuals (eventually more than just meme templates — any visual that you find useful and meaningful) that you B, store in your library,” Libov told TechCrunch. “Antimatter is actually a P2P learning and education company, and Reverse Meme Search is part of the creation experience that we just wanted the world to have sooner rather than later.” Antimatter says on its website that it’s “inspired by the many great learning meme communities on the internet.”
Sure, this is not the most important issue in the world for tech to solve (I mean, what if you could have dozens of preventative blood tests performed on just one drop of blood?💀 ). But clearly, memes have real-world power, so get reverse-searching.