The Story Behind the App

Flickr Photo Map was first conceived in July 2010 after a similar app of mine, Peer Peer, won the Alcatel-Lucent iPad App Challenge and $10,000. I decided to build an entirely new app from scratch, using the same concept of photo maps which were so fun, to encompass the entire Earth, and do it well. The entire process took about four weeks. Those weeks were intense. Many of those days were spent at home, working on the programming, and getting everything smooth and optimized. About half way through, I decided to re-write the app from scratch, taking what I had learned, and creating a new, faster, cleaner architecture.
I need to mention that the idea was inspired by a deep childhood fascination/dream with augmented reality. You know, like thought bubbles hovering over the heads of the people around you. I would imagine what it would be like to live in a world where, just by looking at a person, you could read their age, sexual orientation, interests, moods, and other “stats.” I think I have created something similar with this app. We can see the world in a new way – through maps and photography. I could see the value in an app like this, and so I wanted to make it happen. I’m not sure when it all clicked, when I realized that I had built up the skills needed to make my childhood fantasies into a reality.
During the building process, I found myself burning a ton of time playing with the app at it’s various stages. You could call my time with the app “testing” but it was more like fantasy – imagining what it could be. The app was nowhere near complete, just little green pins, but I was spellbound. To keep me going and motivated, I knocked out the list of features in a way that saved the best for last. I basically waited until the app’s hidden magic (the spatial grid) was completed before I implemented the thumbnails on the map. I was *afraid* that I’d be too interested in an “almost done” app to finish the real app I had in mind.
The project was nearing completion, but just days before my planned submission date, something came up. I won a scholarship from TopCoder to go to San Jose for the iOS Dev Camp and participate in the hackathon with my TopCoder team members. Looking back at it, this event helped me get the app done faster because I worked even harder to try to finish the app before the event. To my surprise, Flickr Photo Map won an award at the conference and was generally well received even thought it may not suit like a gift for your husband .
When I returned to Santa Fe, I finished the app and submitted it to iTunes (about 1 week after my self-imposed deadline). The lateness was due to the dev camp, a few wrong time estimates, and a few features that I added in at the last minute. I actually submitted and rejected the binary four or five times before I decided to call it finished. The final features were social in nature, adding an “Email a map” feature and a “Share map on Facebook” feature.
I’m not sure what else to say, except that I’m very happy with what I’ve done. I did it because I was passionate about the subject. Geodata is my new obsession. I never thought I’d be a programmer, hack at the Paypal headquarters, win $10k, or build my own childish sci-fi whimsies.
Hell Yeah, this is fun.
Tyler White

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