App a Week #2 : Flickrstory – photos in time and place

Only a prototype this time, so by my own metric I’ve “failed” this week… but I’m still pretty satisfied and I’m making serious progress.

The idea behind this app was that looking at personal data in a time and place based display adds a layer of meaning that is implicitly read when viewing the data, and that connections between data points in time and place can be made more easily when it is done visually. Or to put it more simply, looking at photos in sequence on a map is different from looking at photos in a sequence.

As I built this prototype I spend an inordinate amount of time just browsing people’s photos. There was something about following a sequence of personal events across a map that was inherently interesting in a way that the photos in isolation weren’t. Seeing the photos in particular locations over time had an added “storytelling” element which was fun to follow.

When I showed K an earlier version, her first comment was “that would be a really good way to view travel photos” – and I think that is the direction I’ll be taking the concept. How often have you been viewing someones travel photos and asked “where did you take that? And what about that one?”

My original plan was actually to build a more time-based interface – a timeline slider where you could select start and end dates, and view photos in the time-space between the two – but this was far too complicated for me to fit in to a week of development time.

I had other some issues with this one, not least of all the fact that my iPad died on Friday – so after a morning of frustration and a trip to the Apple store, I did a little more development in the simulator, and decided to call it “finished”. For now.

My other major ┬áproblem was really just cockiness and over-ambitiousness – I totally underestimated how long it would take to build my first iPad app, learn to load asynchronous data, customise MKMapKit, and a million other things I didn’t think of until I was half way through.

But I’m happy with the result as a base to build on – I’m certainly getting a lot of new ideas…