“People have wanted to leave their mark since the beginning of humanity. Now they are gong to be able to do that digitally using their smartphones” says Veysel Berk, the man behind WallitApp for iPhone. It’s a geo-social app with the most interesting use of augmented reality (AR) I’ve seen. Think of it as a portable Facebook wall for famous places.
WallitApp puts a giant bulletin board in some hot spots. There’s only a few at present, but the Eiffel Tower and Golden Gate Bridge are some working examples. Once there you can ‘virtually check-in’ not by Twitter or any of the million “I am here” social apps like Foursquare, but by leaving a virtual message right from your smartphone that can only be seen by others using the app.
The concept is original and seriously cool. AR allows you to peek through the camera and see an actual Wallit!-branded board. It’s not really there of course, but it superimposes itself on what is and juxtaposes the images to create a unified experience. You can leave love notes, makes plans to meet after a ball game right on the playing field, or chat about the place you are posting from. Other users (presumably all your friends who also use the service) can respond or leave messages of their own.
Like Twitter there is a 140-character limit, but that’s not the app’s real limitation. Its inadequacy is that while Berk is willing to take suggestions for new WallitApp locations, at present the options are quite limited. You can view Wallit walls from the app, but to leave your own mark, you have to be there.
There is an easy way you can find a Walllit! wall: there is presently one in every Apple Store. The company is planning to collect all the WallitApp posts that go up as new iPad shoppers start lining up into an eventual super-board. I happened to be in my local Apple Store the other day and I did see the Wallit wall and was able to interact with it easily. That said, the place was overflowing and I saw only one comment. I almost left my own, but frankly I had no idea what to say. “Lisa was here” or “iOS 5.1 crashed my iPhone?” I like the out-of-the-box thinking behind Wallit, but don’t see the payoff in participating.
WallitApp may prosper with more walls and more importantly more users. But, while it’s a great twist on a non-gaming AR application, it’s still basically virtual tagging without the visual appeal of graffiti.