Wednesday, August 8, 2012

iPhone App Development

Hey everyone. Long time no see - again. Sorry about that. I have been quite busy lately. Let me give some detail as to why.

Last January, I finally got my hands on something that I have been wanting for quite some time - a Macbook Pro. Having now made the switch to Mac, I don't think I could go back. One of the best things that having a Mac lets me do, though, is develop iPhone applications, which has been a dream of mine for quite some time. Last February, I stumbled upon just the idea to work on.

I was on vacation with my wife in San Francisco, which is a favorite spot of ours. While we were there, we went back to the spot where we very first laid eyes on the Golden Gate Bridge - the top of the stairs at George Sterling Park. I noticed that in the time since we first saw it, several things had changed - a lot of the trees were bigger now, that sort of thing. I thought to myself "Wouldn't it be cool to recreate one of the pictures we took here during our first trip? Then we'd really be able to see everything that changed...". With that, my idea was born.

Retake is the product of that brainstorm, and it was released in the App Store on August 3rd. Retake is a camera app with the purpose of retaking existing pictures to accentuate the differences between past and present. It does this by launching the camera with the old picture of your choice displayed semi-transparent on top of the camera interface. You can use anything in the picture that hasn't changed to line up your position, rotation and zoom until you are sure you are taking the exact same picture.

To give you an idea of what you can accomplish with Retake, let me show you an example. This picture is a picture that my wife took three years ago. It is of a building on the University of Kansas campus called The Oread. When this picture was taken, it was under construction still. It was taken with a Canon point and shoot.

Just last week, I went to KU's campus, went to approximately the same area, and I fired up Retake. Using the app, I was able to find the exact location to take a new picture from, so it would match the old picture. As a result, I was able to take this:

Because the pictures are almost identical in position, it really highlights the features that have changed in the last three years. You can see the tree in the front left has grown significantly, and the yellow poles in the far center have been added, and the tree on the right has been trimmed up from where it was.

It has been a really interesting road, learning to develop for Apple. I plan on posting again soon some of the more difficult problems that I encountered along the way. Just wanted to get a bit of the backstory out before jumping into the meat.

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