App of the Week: Timehop Brings Back Memories...for Better or Worse

The Timehop app will bring back memories...good and bad.
The Timehop app will bring back memories...good and bad. Screenshot
App: Timehop
Platform: iOS/Android
Cost: Free

Long ago, before the advent of digital technology, there was a things called diaries and photo albums. No, they weren't posted to Facebook. These were literal books with paper in them. Did you just ask what paper is? Ok, good, I thought we were in trouble for a minute. Anyway, these "books" were for keeping information and photos you might want to save for later. Sometimes, you could turn the photos into slides, which would be shown to you during hours-long snooze fests at your great anut's house. "This is me and your uncle outside the McDonald's in London. Did you know they had McDonald's in Europe? This is me and your uncle eating a Big Mac..." You get the idea.

Now that we have technology to storehouse all this information, we don't need books any more (sad face), but the huge amounts of stuff we keep can make it difficult to sift through. Our memories will still fade because we have no way to organize all the things that help remind us.

That's where Timehop comes in. This fun little app connects to all your different social media platforms and to the photo galleries on your phone. Then, every day, you can look through what you did the previous year and beyond.

What's the benefit?

The main benefit is that it provides a helpful reminder of either how terrible or wonderful you used to be. It also keeps a daily record of your failings and successes, and gives you a pretty good idea of just how boring your life is or isn't, was or wasn't at any given time. Remember that tweet you forgot to delete where you were really subtweeting about your awful boss and he knew it? Found it! Oh, and that naked photo you sent to that horrible dude? Yeah, it's still on your phone.

But, so are the baby pictures of when your daughter was born and that time you posted on Facebook about your new job or snapped an Instagram of what turned out to be the first kiss with the woman you married. It's both inspiring and sort of terrifying. It can make you happy, sad or indifferent.

Mainly, it's a really good reminder that our lives go on through tragedy and triumph. It's a record in the digital age. And Timehop organizes it for you one day at a time.

Pluses and Minues

Setting aside the existential elements, Timehop allows you to connect to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Swarm, Dropbox, Google Photos and your internal photo galleries. You can share that information as you swipe through each day. It's remarkably easy.

The downer is that it is only one day at a time. If you miss a day, you can't go back and scan through, say, February 18 or forward to what you did on March 7.

But, in a strange way, that makes it easier to swipe through on a daily basis. And it provides an incentive to do that. If, like me, you have had a pretty active life on social media and your phone, you could have days filled with swipe after swipe of tweets and photos. On the other hand, if you don't use your phone for much more than texting and, you know, actual phone calls (they still do that), Timehop probably isn't for you. Stick with a photo album.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke