Historypin supports people who are passionate about using cultural heritage to bring communities together. From Australia to Zimbabwe, we’re proud to help people connect with heritage and engage with each other in new ways. As a non-profit, our central aim is to build the simplest, most effective digital tools which support community engagement and to use our resources where they have maximum impact, maintaining a small set of effective, specific tools rather than a large range that do too many things.
Since we launched, we’ve maintained both the historypin.org website and the Historypin mobile app for iOS and Android, enabling people to discover and share material when they’re at their desks or when they are out in the world. Like all software, our mobile app requires constant maintenance to keep it working well with the most current versions of phones and tablets. Sadly, our mobile app has fallen behind the times, and a few things aren’t working as well as we’d like, so we have a choice to make. We could put more resources into maintaining the app as it exists now, or we could focus on some new areas of the historypin.org web platform, including new features that will work much better on mobile devices, and then build on that platform work with some excellent new mobile app tools later on.
We have made the decision to remove the Historypin mobile app from the Apple and Google Play stores. If you already have the app, it will continue to work, but we will no longer be making updates. This decision allows us to better serve our community of heritage activists by building a range of specific digital products, rather than just a single app that mirrors the desktop experience.
The community engagement projects we run have given us excellent feedback from people using historypin.org and the app, and it is clear that more lightweight, targeted mobile applications are needed. We’re planning to develop specific applications that make it easier to do just one thing–things which help open, enrich and inspire people to collaborate around cultural heritage. Things like recording an oral history, digitising a photo in a community centre, following a heritage trail to discover a local story or taking a “repeat” modern photo of a historical scene.
In the past four years the mobile technology landscape has also transformed. More people are using a greater variety of devices and the technologies to deliver content directly through mobile browsers. We are therefore focusing our efforts on designing “mobile first” experiences and harnessing HTML5 so that historypin.org will work seamlessly on all tablet and mobile browsers. Some of our new projects, for example “Mapping the Panama-Pacific International Exposition” already reflect this thinking, and work quite well on mobile platforms.
We’d also love to hear from you. Let us know what kinds of things are important to you in apps or the mobile experience. Are there elements of apps that your institution would be willing to pay for, or are spending budget on with vendors already? Are there ways you’re using apps or mobile to engage with your community, or would want to? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you very much to everyone who has used our app so far; your support and feedback has been hugely valuable, and we look forward to launching more Historypin products to support community archiving. If you’re interested in working with us on them – coding, funding, beta testing or beyond, please get in touch with Jon, Historypin Strategic Partnerships Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.