If your early days on the internet involved dial-up modems, slow-loading pages, and low-res graphics, then you’ll get a kick out of a new app called BitCam. The app, which hails from Iconfactory, best known as the makers of popular Twitter client Twitterrific, lets you snap retro-looking images with your iPhone camera. But it’s more than that – the app itself is designed to look like it’s from the past. As the company explains, “BitCam is the digital camera you would have used on your mini pocket computer back in 1996.”
Iconfactory says it launched the app to celebrate the its 20th anniversary. The idea was to create a camera application with the constraints of the past in mind, its App Store description page reads. The team worked on BitCam for a couple of months, off and on.
In other words, the app doesn’t just take low-res photos – BitCam also tries to simulate the experience of using older technology.
This begins with the BitCam website, which uses an old-fashioned URL (www.iconfactory.com/bc.html), complete with the “.html” on the end. The site is mostly text, without the large graphics you’re used to seeing on today’s web. And of course, it has an “under construction” GIF and others at the bottom – old school GIFs, that is – not these modern, dazzling Giphy creations.
Meanwhile, the camera app has a black and white interface because color graphics support back then was not broadly available. It also offers none of the animation seen in today’s apps, which means the credits jerk as they scroll by. And it even throttles the speed to simulate a 16-bit processor.
BitCam includes three pixel resolutions, which it named FatBits, Standard, and Super-Res.
Yes – as you can tell – BitCam has invented its own terminology that sounds like something from another era, too. This fun phrasing continues in the settings where you can choose to take photos with the “Self Camera” (the front-facing camera), or square-shaped photos for sharing on Instagram by choosing the “Instaphoto Size.”
You can also “Install Color Graphics” as an in-app purchase of $1.99. Obviously, this feature isn’t a must-have upgrade, but it’s a nice way to give thanks to the company for its many creative projects over the years. In addition to Twitterific, Iconfactory has its own portfolio of apps for iOS and Mac, including iPulse, xScope and Flare 2, and has worked with companies like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, eBay, LEGO, Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm, and others.
There’s a Photos editing extension, too, users are discovering – which means you can convert photos already in your Camera Roll. Iconfactory co-founder Craig Hockenberry says most users are enjoying the “self camera” feature the most, however.
The app is a fun toy, and definitely makes you feel a bit of nostalgia for the old days…as well as grateful for how far we’ve come since.
BitCam is a free download on the App Store.