Travel junkies, beware. CO Everywhere, a mobile app that launched this week, is likely to become addictive. It has for me.
The premise is simple yet powerful; organize the world of geo-tagged publicly shared content into real-time, customizable location feeds. Its a new and very useful spin on social media and for travelers, its particularly enticing.
Within a minute of downloading the app, my finger is tracing a blob-like shape on an Iphone map around Nosara, Costa Rica. I'm planning a surf trip there and was curious about what I'd find. I'm greeted by a feed that includes photos of various surf breaks taken only minutes prior, a video of a person zip-lining and a couple of posts showing some potential off-roading adventures. I click the 'event' tab and learn about free yoga classes on Saturday. And if I want to connect with any of these people, I just click on the post and I'm directed to the person's profile on whatever social media site they originally shared the content. A nice option for when I'm down there and want to meet up with like-minded travelers.
Next up, Ibiza, a spot that CO Everywhere includes in a list of its popular locations. After spending five minutes on that feed, I offer my wife a solo spa vacation in exchange for a hall pass and a ticket on the next plane out. In response to that offer, I receive a cold piercing stare. Although that plan crashes and burns, I still manage to continue my virtual tour through the eyes of various attractive 20- and 30-somethings. It seems an endless feed of boats, beaches, pool parties and nightclubs. Borrrring.
Third stop, the Catskill neighborhood where I recently purchased a home, a slightly more mundane feed but probably much more useful for my actual life. I scroll down three or four posts and discover an elevated train trestle in the neighboring town of Rosendale with a stunning view of the river below. I make it a point to head there to take photos. I also catch a glimpse of a swimming hole and by tapping on the photo, CO Everywhere shows me the exact location. It's a road I know and even though I have no pool, now I have a place to swim.
My final stop is Tahrir Square in Cairo. I expect to see utter chaos but instead I get a glimpse into the daily life of Cairo residents. A swimming pool, a girl at her office, the setting sun. These pictures provide some context and act as a counter to what I see on the news on a daily basis.
The bottom line: if someone anywhere in the world shared content on one of 1,000 sites (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, FourSquare, Flickr, Picasa, etc...) and that content falls within the shape that you've drawn on the map, its reflected in CO Everywhere's feed.
Living guidebook? Travel porn? Social newsroom? I'm not sure what to call CO Everywhere but I'm interested to see how it impacts my daily life and my future travel. For now, I'm going to sit and take in the varied views as shared by hundreds of visitors to Macchu Picchu...from the comfort of my own couch.