Two months after my initial ramblings about the boom of social networking apps and I'm seeing some of them moving forward. The location-based trend hunting app Trover has received an update that addresses one of its surprising omissions at launch: the lack of Twitter integration. While you could still view everyone's discoveries, you needed to use a Facebook account to share yours, something that I thought was limiting the app's potential.
Trover [iTunes Link] is a location-based take on photo-sharing services for mobile devices that allows you to find and share interesting things in your vicinity. The app finds your location and automatically loads the pictures others have taken in your area of all stuff worth highlighting. A quick search in the App Store is enough to see that the app is not exactly a pioneer, but I love the way it allows users to express themselves without the limitations other photo apps have.
First of all, you're invited to look without being forced to collaborate. When you find yourself in a new place you have never been, visiting a new city or just going for a walk, you can always launch Trover to see what others are liking in that area.
You can always tailor the main stream to your interests — urban art, independent shops or restaurants — it's completely up to you. This is why I think Trover is better than other alternatives in my opinion, as I prefer to see a big pool of pictures to choose from rather than just some about an specific topic.
The Feed is a twitter-like timeline where you see the latest photos shared in the system. When you first use it to get to see everyone's uploads, but you really want to use that feed to keep up to date with the people you follow. Just like the microblogging service, you can choose to follow those users that make valuable contributions, that live in your area or post about your topic of interest. This is similar to services like Instagram or Hipstamatic, but you get to discover them using the location of the photos taken.
A second reason I keep using Trover is that the content is pretty good, even in locations outside the US. And with this I mean quality and quantity: users keep contributing and I find a high percentage of the photos shared very interesting. It's difficult to weight this aspect objectively, but I can say that even in my own neighbourhood I discover new interesting things thanks to the app.
The latest 1.2 update opens the experience to users not keen on using Facebook to login, a great move by the developer, who decided include this limitation to launch the service on a trial mode. Now Trover is open to everyone, allowing you to use your Twitter account or use email to sign-up. This also means that it's easier to find your friends and followers on the platform. I understand people who are fed up of social networks, but believe me, this one is great even if you opt-out all the social features.
It's also worth mentioning that Trover has a web-based portal where you can see the same content available within the app, including photo views, thanks and comments. You can share directly from the browser but you'll need to use the iPhone app to use the rest of the features.
After my satisfying experiences and being a free app, I can only recommend it. Trover is a priceless time killer that helps you to find the cool stuff wherever you are. If you want to take it one step further, register and share your discoveries with the community — it's all about the social game aspect you already now, and I don't think its a prerequisite to enjoy the app.
I wonder how the new update will impact the quality of the content, but I'm confident that it will keep being a niche tool and a good resource to hunt local gems. Trover might not make it to the App Store charts, and perhaps that's a reason to install it.