Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake has released a new augmented-reality location-discovery app that works like a crowd-sourced version of Google's Field Trip (now available in Australia).
When Field Trip, created by Google's Niantic Labs, was launched in September last year, it looked tremendously exciting. Using location-based tags, it serves up information about the places around you. Alas, it only received a US launch at that time (although it has since, extraordinarily quietly, been released around the globe).
Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake went in a different direction for Findery, her latest venture, choosing instead a soft launch in Australia before rolling out around the globe. Like Field Trip, it provides searchable, location-based information about interesting places around the world, with one point of difference: Findery is crowdsourced.
This means that anyone can find a place on a map and make a note privately or for others to see. This could be anything from a memory about that place or whether the food or coffee is good, to a story about its history, to a sketch or even a favourite photo. Other users can then browse the map to view these notes for a fascinating tour of places that interest them.
Fake told The Atlantic in February, "I've lived for years in my house in San Francisco but had no idea, till Findery, that Anne Rice wrote Interview With the Vampire down the street and that Courtney Love lived on the block when she was dating Kurt Cobain. The Safeway near my house turns out to almost have been a funeral home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and there's a famous artist working out of an abandoned building nearby. I've learned the names of plants I'd never noticed before."
Findery has been available as a website for nearly 18 months now, but the new iOS app brings new portability, and features, to the social network. The main focus of the app is your immediate area, using your iPhone's GPS to serve you notes; just a quick look around the Sydney CBD gave us some interesting historical stories about the area and a new yum cha restaurant to try out. And if you're out and about, the app will alert you if you bump into a note of interest.
If you're travelling or just curious, though, you can search location names to be navigated to a map of that area. There are still some kinks to be ironed out, though — the app couldn't find locations unless we capitalised the first letter of the name, which some users might not be able to figure out. However, once you're there, you can perform the same browsing or — if there are no notes — add one yourself (Wollemi really needs the story of Elizabeth Jessie Hickman).
And you won't get overwhelmed with people posting single swear words or "hello" endlessly. Findery will filter posts based on people's reactions to them; you can filter by "Notable" or "Most Recent" (although once you have chosen one of those options, there's no easy way to go back and choose the other).
While it's worth noting that the app does need to be a little more user friendly, Findery is a fabulous concept. We really hope it takes off — we'd love to read more stories about the history of our neighbourhoods, and who knows, maybe we'll even make some new friends.