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What happened here a century ago? Get the picture with Android app Historypin

by Caitlin M. Foyt

Check-in applications like FourSquare, GoWalla and Whrrl let you know what people nearby were recently buying, eating or exploring. But, what were the locals up to 100 or more years ago?

Historypin for Android is an app that reveals old photos that were taken near your current location. Even cooler, hold up your phone when you're out and about and you can display the images that were taken in that very spot years before. You can then view an overlaid image of the old and the new, fading between the two to compare past and present.

Either search by current location or zoom in on different places on the map.

You can also upload your own old photo and pin it to the map for other people to discover. If you'd like, you can also “capture a modern moment” that'll make it into history books one day by posting more-recent photographs.

Historypin is quite new, which means that depending upon where you live, there might not be many images at your disposal yet. As you might expect, big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston have a bunch of photos posted, but places with smaller populations do not.

Regardless of where you live, this doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun. You can flip through what's popular, explore the collections including tons and tons of museum-quality photos from all over the world, or just explore the world map. Users can also take virtual tours of some of the most iconic places on Earth.

While the app itself is a phenomenal idea, a really great way to learn about history (and maybe even muster up a little hometown pride), it could use a little work. The design is a bit clunky, especially when it comes to zooming in on individual photographs on the world map. I also encountered an issue where Historypin forced-quit when I attempted to upload my own photo. With a few updates, though, there's no reason these issues couldn't be ironed-out.

This might be obvious, but I think it's important to note that because photos are uploaded by users from all over the world, photo quality and relevance are not guaranteed. This is not the app's fault, but it can be irritating when you're searching for photos from the 1920s and you come upon a very blurry picture or even a photo that was taken recently.

This is a very fun, unique app, perfect for historians, history buffs, teachers and even just the curious local.

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