Vizible is a new app that shows you the photos being tweeted by people around you. The app uses the location information attached to tweets to discover the physical place where the photos are being shot and/or shared. You can adjust the range so that you see images tweeted by people in a small area around you, or from a wider area like a neighborhood or a whole metro area or county. The app is available only for iPhone and iPad right now.
The first question about any app, of course, is "is it useful?" beyond just the first couple of uses. Vizible gets points here because I can see some ongoing usefulness in it.
Possible, probable uses
Here are a couple of real-world applications. Let's say you're at an event like a pro baseball game. You are so into baseball that you want to see as many views and vantage points of the players and the play as possible. So you pop open the app, and you can see pics being shot and tweeted from all over the stadium. Rah.
A more serious application might be using the app to get news on some event that is happening now. If an earthquake or a tornado hit my city or neighborhood I might want to see as many photos of the disaster as possible, as they are being shot in real time. It's the immediacy and topicality that makes Twitter a great (and sometimes terrible) thing, and when images, not just words, are the medium, the true flavor of an event can be powerfully portrayed.
The first thing you'll probably do with Vizible may be more entertaining than newsy or dramatic, as Vizible user "SimonStansfild" describes in the App Store comments section:
"[The} app works great now and I just spent an intriguing hour flipping through pictures of complete strangers--it made me realize that as a race, us humans are complete morons. It's like a car crash, I can't look away. I'm going back for more."
My first experience using Vizible wasn't quite so negative. I saw a pic of two young women who accidentally wore matching outfits today, a shot of a bouquet of flowers received from a boyfriend (sitting in front of an office building view of a rainy Union Square), a front view of a San Francisco trolley car, and, of course, a pic of a (pretty damn delicious-looking) fried egg sandwich somebody had for breakfast today.
Not pathetic and sad. Colorful. Local. And kinda cool.
How it works
When you install the app, you have to give it permission to access your primary Twitter account, and to read your own location from the GPS in your phone. (It has to know where you are to find the images being tweeted around you). Next you set the radius you want to look at, meaning 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 square miles.
The app then displays the images between tweeted within the range in a large grid on your phone or tablet. This looks especially nice on a tablet, where flipping through pages of sharp images is an enjoyable experience. Click on an image and the app displays the name of the tweeter, the full tweet, and a larger view of the image. Swipe downward on that image and you return to the grid view.
My only problem with this presentation is that I could not see the location of the person tweeting. The "Tweeps Around" overlay in the Layar app, for example, also detects tweets around you, and superimposes the picture of the tweeter over their location in the physical environment around you, as seen through the phone camera. It also plots them on a little radar screen to show you where they relative to you. Vizible is not an augmented reality app, but it should plot the image tweets on a map around you. It would make the results more meaningful.
The developers of Vizible have another larger app called Twizgrid, which parses and curates Twitter images in many different ways, including by location. The developers thought the location-based view in Twizgrid was popular and useful, but that it might be lost in all the other functionality, so they broke the location-based part out into a separate app. That's Vizible.
It's a fun, free app that does just one simple thing, and presents its content in a clean and understandable way. Those things might be qualities might make the Vizible app something more than the "disposable, single-use" variety, which already fill the app stores.