When I released the first version of Ohai a few months ago, it had a simple goal – to have a simple, beautiful place to keep track of memories. As with all first versions, it was limited; you could only capture location-based check ins with a comment and a photo. And as it was released shortly after iOS 7’s announcement, it quickly looked outdated and needed some visual touch-ups. Today I’ve released the first new set of features for Ohai to make it a better and more beautiful journal, with some of the most heavily requested features.

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About three years ago, I had a simple idea. I wanted an app to keep track of the places I’ve been. Naturally I’ve tried all the services for this, jumping from Gowalla to Foursquare to Path. But they all want you to broadcast your location, all the time. They’re focused on the experience of letting other people knowing where you are. There’s certainly value in sharing your location, but I wanted something that benefited me first.

I built a prototype of this app a few years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere. The secret sauce behind any check-in app is a database full of points of interest (or POIs, meaning places like businesses, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc.), and mine was no different. I didn’t want to rely on a free API of places that could evaporate at any time. Buying API access to one was prohibitively expensive. And shipping without one meant checking-in became a huge data entry process that was not fun. The project got shelved.

Then, a few months ago, my friends over at App.net announced a new API for finding POIs, and attaching metadata about places to posts and private messages. A few months before, they released an API for, among many other things, creating a private timeline of posts for individual accounts. I saw both a way to get a sustainable POIs database and cloud storage for check-in data.

And thus, Ohai was born.

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2011 is coming to a close, so I’d like to take a moment to highlight a few apps and games on Mac and iPhone that have been invaluable to me. I broke this out into four categories, each with two apps. I have purposely omitted iPad, because frankly, I rarely use my iPad (and I prefer the TouchPad over the iPad), and don’t feel I’ve played with enough iPad apps to really give it a fair shake. So I’ve left that off to focus on iPhone and Mac apps and games. I hope you’ll check out all of these great apps.

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