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A brilliant new messaging app that lets you leave secrets on street corners. Yep. The next “new new” thing.

October 2nd, 2014 |  Published in Digital and Mobile Technology, Weekend tech diversions


Traces app


Find the right spot at the right time, then burst the bubble 


2 October 2014 – There is a new, simply funky new messaging app via the iTunes store (note but only available via the UK store, not yet via the US store). It links content-stuffed messages to a specific, physical location using augmented reality to add real-world context to social media. And it’s fun!! It’s called “Traces” by Ripple and you’ll easily find it on the UK iTunes store.

So a hypothetical: it’s your birthday. A message from a friend suggests you go to a nearby street corner. There, you hold up your smartphone and see a water droplet hovering in mid-air. You align an on-screen target with the droplet, bursting it to reveal details of a birthday surprise: a video clip of your favorite song, perhaps e-tickets for an event at the venue across the street. Or a movie clip of your buddies waiting for you at your local bar across the street. It’s an “immersive messaging” app and it’s … wait for it … the next “new new” thing.

Fun note: my wife used it to set up a children’s treasure hunt party and my brother-in-law sent himself a trace in a large car park to remind him where his car was parked. Because you see the droplet floating above it.

Ok, some details …

With Traces, the sender creates a digital “payload” – any combination of text, music, images, video, tickets and vouchers – and sends it to their chosen person. The twist is that the receiver can only unlock the message if they are in the right GPS location at the right time.

To send a trace, the sender simply selects a person from their contact list, drops a pin in the map where they want it to be visible – and for how long – and then uploads whatever content they want to leave there. Recipients of a trace get an alert on their phone with a map showing where their message can be collected – and who has sent it.

Think about it: instead of reading tweets in a random location you can choose the location to add context to your delivery. It avoids mass broadcasting by allowing someone to send traces to no more than five people at a time.

The range of uses is endless. On a personal note, you could leave a piece of music for someone in a location meaningful to both of you, like where you first met. Publishers are looking at how Traces could leave location-relevant author and live readings. The app has also potential for sampling or selling music, and Ripple is in advanced talks with a major record label. And the British Museum is looking at providing customized, context-rich tours of its exhibits.

Alex Hania / Chief Technology Officer

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