Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Former Apple and PopCap Engineer Launches App to Make iPhone Camera Useful

A new app called VisualList offers a simple but natural extension of the iPhone’s camera, allowing users to organize and remember things by taking a picture of them.

Many of us already pull out our smartphone to take a quick photo to document a shopping list, the diagrams on a whiteboard or the contents of a moving box. It’s just quicker and more informative than writing things down.

VisualList isn’t some massive feat of engineering; there’s no image recognition or anything like that. And it’s a lot simpler than other personal memory apps out there, like Evernote. What the iPhone app does is organize photos into checklists and let users tag items through the touchscreen, then formats the lists into emails and Facebook albums for sharing.

The app was created by Martin Gannholm, who worked at Apple on projects like the Newton for 10 years ending in 1995, then founded the hosted enterprise software company Allegis, and more recently worked on engineering projects at Microsoft and PopCap. The self-funded two-person company behind the app is called Way2Clever.

Gannholm is charging $2.99 for VisualList and anticipates selling future thematic versions–for instance, a wedding-themed app for users to take pictures of the dresses they try on or the centerpiece arrangements they want to re-create, or what have you.

Three bucks seems a bit much for something users can nearly do without an app, but perhaps not in the context of a big, expensive or ongoing project that’s helped by thinking visually–say, remodeling a home.

Having played around with the app, I’ll say it seems like the kind of thing Apple and other smartphone makers could think about making part of their own camera software.

Update: As of Feb. 10, VisualList’s price has been lowered to $0.99.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work