Timehop delivers a daily digital time capsule

This fun app for iOS and Android shows what you were sharing, tweeting, and Instagramming last year, two years ago, and even further in your past.

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Timehop

What were you doing this time last year? What about two, three, four, and even five years ago? If your memory is fuzzy, let an app called Timehop help you out. What started as just an email service, Timehop has grown into a social media time capsule that you can dig up each day on your Android phone or iPhone.

The app has a cute design, and it's a really pleasant way to take a walk through your personal history to remember where you were in your life years ago. It's fun to peak at vacation photos from three years back, or remember what was in the news, and how you felt about it, last year. It's particularly fun for me to see when my history includes major milestones, such as graduations or new jobs, and to look at what I did during major holidays, like Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.

Connect your accounts

It works like this; download the app and connect your social media accounts. The app supports Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, your phone's Photo Gallery, and Twitter. While the app can access most of your posts over the last five years, it can only access 3,200 tweets from your Twitter account. To supplement that, you can upload your entire Twitter archive to the service, but that's completely optional.

You can also use a handy feature called Timehop Sync to upload your photos from your computer and/or Dropbox account, and Timehop will pull those into your daily update. When you install the program, you can tell it which folders to look at to find photos, and it will only pull in pictures that were taken with a camera. Using the metadata from the photos, Timehop knows when it was taken, provided the camera date was set correctly.

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You connect your social media accounts to Timehop to see what you've shared in the past. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Your daily Timehop

Once you've connect all of the accounts and content you want, and uploaded your Twitter archive, you're ready to start getting your daily Timehops, which is what the app calls your daily snapshot of your social media activity over the last few years. Every day you'll get a notification that your Timehop is ready, and you can scroll through a timeline of updates, organized by year.

For each year, you'll see what day of the week that date fell on, plus the "one year ago" section shows a brief weather report with the temperature and conditions wherever you were. As you scroll through the years, you'll see what you shared on each of your social media accounts, which gives you a great snapshot of what you were doing that day, or what you talked about. You can then share any of your past updates to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through the app.

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A small snapshot of one of my Timehops. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Of course, some entries will be more meaningful than others.

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Timehop's mascot Abe. Sarah Mitroff/CNET

For example, tweets where I responded to someone else, and there's not much context, aren't very insightful because I can't see what the other person tweeted. Luckily, you can hide "@ replies" from your timeline in the settings menu, so those responses won't show up.

At the end of your Timehop, there's a small graphic with a historical fact about that day, usually related to pop culture. It always features Timehop's mascot, Abe, an adorable cartoon dinosaur. Abe also hangs out at the very bottom of the screen with an inspirational or philosophical thought about time.

That's really all there is to it. Timehop might not change your life, or make your day easier, but it's a wonderful digital daily diary that you don't even have to create yourself. All you have to do is keep sharing bits of your life through the social media accounts you already use, and Timehop does the rest.

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