Ohai is a location-based journal app to keep track of where you’ve been. Other apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Path are focused on sharing your location all the time, for the benefit of other people. Ohai is designed to make a journal out of your locations and photos you take while there, benefitting you first.

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Ohai was designed and built around the App.net APIs for points of interest and stores all data within a private channel for your profile. This means that the data is accessible only to you, but other apps can also publish into your journal.

Along with all App.net-powered apps, Ohai was retired with the closure of App.net and the shutdown of its APIs. I’d love to revisit the concept some day, though.

Posts about Ohai

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 And as it was released shortly after iOS 7’s announcement, it quickly looked outdated and needed some visual touch-ups.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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