Birth: Late July/Early August 2009
Technologies: Objective-C, OpenGL, Python (server side)
It all started with this tweet by Robert Scoble on July 14th, 2009:
At the time, Yelp was not working on such a feature - no one was really sure what Scoble was talking about. While the team shrugged it off, I took it as a challenge from Scoble (especially considering I'd never really developed anything for the iPhone or done any OpenGL). I went home a couple nights later and hacked away from 8pm to 5am on my own interpretation of a Yelp Augmented Reality using Yelp's public APIs. To my surprise, I had a working demo (albeit ugly) a mere two days later. I started showing it to some other Yelp developers during my lunch break and soon enough word got to the rest of the team and I was busy porting the code I wrote in my aparment at 4am into Yelp's iPhone codebase.
After a couple weeks of polishing, we shipped it hidden as an easter egg in our v3.0 of the iPhone app (if you're curious, contrary to popular belief, we used no private APIs). Given the shortened development cycle, it still wasn't as polished as the rest of the app so we decided to hide it for all but the tech savvy users who would find it cool.
After weeks of waiting for the App Store to approve our app it was finally released, and a day later, none other than Robert Scoble himself posted to friendfeed the following message:
"New Yelp iPhone app is also out. There's a cool easter egg (Augmented Reality feature). Here's how to do it:..."
With that, the race was on. Within minutes Mashable had cobbled together a demo video, with RWW soon to follow. A few hours later, it was a trending topic on twitter.
You're not familiar with the concept here's an (eventually in focus!) quick video from Steve Garfield:
In the months that followed, we released a version of the Monocle for 3.1 and received a constant supply of press (that is surprisingly still coming). Here's an abbreviated list of top media stories
- Businessweek: Augmented Reality Goes Mobile (mentions me personally)
- Fast Company: Augmented Reality Is Both a Fad and the Future - Here's Why
- AP: High-Tech X-Ray Specs: 'Augmented Reality' Melds Physical, Virtual Worlds
- New York Times Magazine: Consumed: Reality Bytes
- Gizmodo: Augmented Reality Yelp Will Murder All Other Restaurant Apps, My Health
- Mashable: Easter Egg: Yelp is the iPhone's First Augmented Reality App
- CNET TV: Yelp for Monocle
- Wired Magazine: 7 Best Augmented Reality Apps (Monocle is #1)
- CNN: A New Way of Looking at the World (Monocle on slide 3)
- RWW: Yelp Brings First US Augmented Reality App to iPhone Store
- Everything else (google search)