December 2, 2009 | by Ed Clark
In case you didn’t know, A World of Photo recently won one of the top prizes in the ADC2 “Entertainment” category. The concept is simple: You see a big map of the world, you spin your phone, a random user is picked in the direction your phone is pointing, and that user has to send you a photo. In time, someone will spin their phone, and you will be selected to send a picture to that person. Then you get to spin again.
A World of Photo runs in the background, so it alerts you whenever you have been selected. And right now, you get selected a lot. I ended up uninstalling it at work, because it kept asking me to make a photo for a random user every 5 minutes despite the fact that I kept selecting the “I’m busy” option in the app. I reinstalled the app at home the next morning to test it out. I thought it might be cool to share pictures of my neighborhood with people around the world, and I’m sure A World of Photo won its ADC2 award with this potential in mind.
I sent someone in Texas a picture of a lake near my house, and someone in Germany sent me a busy street scene. Each user gets to rate the pictures they receive and send a comment. Pretty neat. I took my phone downstairs to show the kids. When I spun my phone the next time, with my children watching, the phone found a user in Florida named “bisexual man–I love XXXX,” who thankfully declined to send a photo. Maybe he was asleep–it was 7AM, after all. The app then picked some other user named “OK–Ladies show me what you got.” I picked up my phone and closed the app while my kids protested. “I don’t think it’s working right now,” I said.
The app does have a way to report inappropriate photos, but I don’t think that is going to dissuade the folks who consider this the ultimate adult social networking game. If the developer wants this to remain G-rated for most users, there needs to be a way to reject connections based on usernames. There are some other improvements that I would suggest. The selection process should exclude users that have already sent you a photo within the last few hours. And the app needs to respect the “I’m busy” selection until the user decides to reopen the app. Finally, the huge marker on the map that says, “Welcome! This is you.” should disappear after you start the game. It gets in the way, and I assume most people know where they are on a world map.
All in all, this is a pretty neat idea, and it is fun to send and receive photos from random folks around the world. It’s a free app (there is a donation version), and people seem to love it: 4.68/5 stars after 416 ratings. Just keep your kids away until you get a photo you like from a user that you have previously screened.