PhotoSwap by Podadaz is a cool iPhone application where the premise is simple, you have to take a photo. That photo can be of anything, and it will get swapped with another person using the application anywhere in the world. They could be a mile away or half a world a way. The selection is completely at random. You never who will get the picture you send, and you never know who you’re talking to. You get two option when you get a photo back. You can take a new picture to go to another completely random person, or you can hit reply and send another picture with the same person. The key though is that you can only send another photo. You can’t call the other person, nor can you send a text message, just another photograph. The best you can do is add a little bit of info to your profile such as a couple of lines of text, like a nickname and a little about you or what you want to see.
In order to start a conversation, it requires a picture. You don’t get to see one until you’ve taken one and released it to the randomness of the world. What do you use to start a photo conversation, well, it could be anything, maybe some trinket on your coffee table or a close up of something on the ceiling or a close up of your shoe. It’s interesting because the picture needs to be something interesting to spark a response. If you have enabled the program’s access to your location, the recipient can click on the info button and see a map of the neighborhood where you’re at (without it pinpointing exactly where) on Google Maps. I’ve seen people take photos of their pets, the time on their watch, alarm clocks, logos on products, and of course, some even just take self portraits.
One conversation I had with someone consisted of taking photographs of music related items such as a photo of sound editing program on my monitor, my turntable, a concert DVD, an LP, and my CD storage unit. I got to see similar items back. It was a fun conversation. And of course, there’s always the option of writing something down on paper and photographing it or opening up a word processor and typing what you want to say and capturing a photo of that to bring back a text element to it. I had a great conversation with someone in Texas where the conversation started with photos of alarm clocks, then a box of doughnuts, and some cookies in return, before ultimately becoming a conversation of screen captures.
And of course, this would not be a program for children, because some out there are after pictures of a different nature. A few conversations came with a “Scavenger Hunt” list photographed and on the list were body parts and hash marks to indicate how many they’ve gotten of each. It’s definitely user beware. You can find what you’re looking to find, so it’s best to use the information tags to indicate what you want see. If you’re just looking to exchange pictures of scenery and objects, say so. You don’t want to end up exchanging pictures with someone wanting more of a tease. Of course, there’s always the option to report offensive pictures, but if you stick to stating what you want to see, you shouldn’t have too many problems.
The only trick to remember is that, you actually have to go out of the program and into the iPhone settings to be able to change your information tags. The program doesn’t download with any information about that. So it’s up to you to find it.
Have fun taking random photographs and sharing them throughout the world. It’s also quite fun to get random photos and deciding if you want to reply back or just accept another random picture. You find you look at the world a little more closely because you want to find that next photo to take that’s going to be interesting to share. And you tend to scrutinize the background details in the incoming photos to try and get a little more information out the picture. It’s like a live mystery game.