Side Projects: Where/When
I did it! After almost a decade of messing around, I finally built and launched an app!!
Let me backtrack..
I signed up for a Foursquare account on June 2, 2009; I
am was (super)user number 14,488.
For 10 years I’ve “checked in” almost everywhere I’ve gone; different jobs, my wedding in Palm Springs, my son’s birth at Sint Lucas Andreas in Amsterdam - it’s all logged.
I’ve done this relentlessly, to the point where it’s more muscle memory now than anything else. I couldn’t care less about the gamification side, points or mayorships don’t mean anything to me (well, mostly), but I absolutely cherish the decade+ of location history saved in calendar.
With this data, I can quickly recall exactly where and when I was at any point in time. This information has proven so helpful for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, it provides enough fast context to jog my brain back to those memories.
Over the past couple years, the official Foursquare app turned off the feeds and my calendar went down. They had mentioned this day would be coming at some point long ago, but they stayed up for years until they were finally taken offline.
I put a quick fix into action at this point. I was able to download my user data and parse that into a structure that could be imported into my calendar. An IFTTT applet also let me send new check ins to the same calendar, albeit somewhat unreliably.
All said though, I knew this fix was only temporary and a more permanent solution was needed.
Foursquare itself was also a concern as it had used years of user data to transform into data brokerage company while simultaneously letting the app crumble over time.
I have been slowly learning iOS app development, like really slowly. I started learning Objective-C, then Swift, and most recently have been playing around with SwiftUI. Every year or so I pick up where I left off, learn something new, and push it a but further before getting frustrated and putting it down again.
This last weekend though, I finally knew enough to hack something together that did just what I wanted it to do.
It’s incredibly simple, and because it keeps everything local to your device, actual coordinates are used over place names, but.. it is also incredibly private.
No data is shared with anyone or anything, ever.
Every time you “check in” to a location, the raw GPS coordinates as well as an Apple Maps formatted link is saved to your calendar – along with title and note if you prefer.
The app lets you make geographic notes in your calendar whenever you’re somewhere you don’t want to forget.
I think it will be obvious that I’m not a developer and I’m certainly not a designer, but I’ve had this idea for years and I’m so happy it’s finally a reality.