If you’ve ever wanted to travel back through time to see what was happening in a given location on a particular date, a new, simply designed mobile application called Pic A Moment can help. The app is an Instagram search engine of sorts, allowing you to enter in a place name – be it a city, a business, or any other venue – along with a date, in order to see all the photos snapped there for the timeframe specified.
This is less about getting a sense of what a spot may be like, the way you might by browsing through a collection of check-in photos on Foursquare, for example, and more about being able to research and draw from a collection of public photos related to some event, like a music concert, sporting event, or some sort of breaking news happening.
The app itself is easy to use: you drag the slider to the date you’re interested in (today, 1 day ago, 1 week ago, 1 month ago, or you can enter in a custom date via the “in the past” selection). Unfortunately, this function for now is limited to the past several months, not all of time. You then enter your place name, and choose from the list of results. These are ranked by proximity to your current location if you’re searching for something generic like “Starbucks,” for instance, as opposed to a specific venue, business or city name.
On the page with the image results from that location, you’re also able to see what else of historical importance happened on that same date, thanks to a Wolfram Alpha ticker at the top, plus the weather for that day through a widget at the bottom. You can then tap on the photos to see them larger, and tap on user’s name to launch their profile on Instagram.
Explains Pic A Moment co-creator Jose Azanza Arias, he sees the new app as a “useful location-based storytelling tool for journalists and marketers,” as well as a way to discover and follow interesting Instagram users who are near you or were in the same places you’ve been to.
The app itself is a project from a group of creatives and developers at digital agency Wunderman Buenos Aires, who, in 2013, decided to come together to build mobile apps as side projects. The team earlier launched an app called Back2gether, aimed at reuniting lost dogs with their owners.
With Pic A Moment, Arias says that the team was inspired by the fact that, while we’re all looking through pictures from around the world, we “don’t see the bigger picture and the context behind them,” he says. Soon, Arias adds, the team will be introducing other features that will reveal more about the context behind the pictures, too.
There are other location-based Instagram search engines, of course. In the past, I’ve personally used things like Instalook or Gramory, for similar tasks. And there are also other ways to virtually “time travel” via photos, though usually these apps are targeting your those wanting to browse back through personal photo collections, as with Memoir or Timehop.
But Pic A Moment has a modern, iOS 7-friendly look to it, as compared with some of the older Instagram search apps, and it’s faster to use as you don’t have to enter in an exact address or reposition a map to find your results.
Still, it’s definitely more of a single-purpose utility rather than something you’d launch every day.
The app first debuted in late December 2013, and is available in both English and Spanish here on the iTunes App Store.