You’re bored at home asking “What should I do?” Meanwhile people nearby are shooting Instagrams of the fun events they’re at. Now is a free iOS app that uses Instagram’s API to sort through photos in real-time, organize those from the same time and place into events, and show you the events as a feed. Now harnesses the powerful Instagram API to help you discover parties, concerts, and bar nights, and share them, too.
French developer Ben Broca bootstrapped Now into existence last year, and it’s been gaining steam with its recent 2.0 update, which made it accessible worldwide. Now employs an intelligent combination of programmatic photo processing and human curation to give users an accurate look at what’s going on around them.
First Now uses Instagram’s API to suck in all the photos taken nearby and clumps them together by time and location. Now super users then read the photo captions, choose the best shots, and organize them into categorized and titled events. This lets Now determine that 20 people posting photos of a musician with the caption “Shuggie Otis” at West 16th and 9th Ave in New York is actually a concert for Shuggie Otis at the Highline Ballroom.
Events with the most photos and likes bubble to the top of your feed. Click through one to check out all the photos shot there. You can also filter the Now feed to see only music, art, parties, food, outdoors, or other types of events. And if you’re feeling some wanderlust, you can drag the map to anywhere in the world and search to see what’s going on in Tokyo, Rio, or rural Slovakia.
Now also lets you share experiences with the app’s community and your social networks. Just select a nearby place, choose to include photos taken there by other people or insert your own, add a description, and post away. You can follow other Now’ers to keep up with their adventures.
In the future, Broca hopes Now can make sure you don’t miss cool things in your neighborhood. It’s considering notifications of especially popular events nearby, and it has an email newsletter highlighting top venues. A clear route to monetization that Broca is considering would let event promoters pay for sponsored placement in the Now feed.
For the moment, though, Broca is just happy Instagram is so generous with its photos. “I think a lot of people underestimate the Instagram API. We were surprised at how powerful it is.” He says most apps built on it just recreate the Instagram experience on the web and don’t actually do anything unique, but Now focuses on “the real-time photos API that gives you every photo in a geographic area. We use it in a smarter way to show you interesting information about those photos.”
Instagram itself is doing some innovative things with its data set, like beefing up its “trending tab,” adding a photo map, and creating galleries of popular hashtags. But Broca doesn’t think the company will ever get too serious about events, leaving room for Now.
And as for Instagram’s owner Facebook’s influence on the future of its sweet API? Broca simply says, “I hope they don’t change it too much.”