Featured in the Apple iTunes Store in both China and the US in the “New & Noteworthy” category, the beautiful travel app Trevi allows users to organize their trip pictures, plot pins on a travel map, and share their adventures with friends and family via Facebook. We sat down with developer and co-founder Ryan Kaminsky to find out more about the road to building an app that hosts 2.5 million photographs, and the role that Parse has played in that journey.
Tell us about yourself, Ryan.
Trevi was made by a bunch of geeky friends that are passionate about the mobile space, especially photo, travel and location-based smartphone apps. We want to create apps that surprise and delight people with a little bit of nerd magic, but also don't require a lot of effort to use. I'm one of the co-founders and devs along with Nav Kesher. Yoni De Beule is our UX/UI Expert and Sanjay Raveendran helped develop the app as well.
And what’s Trevi like?
Trevi helps you rediscover your travel memories by automatically organizing the photos on your iPhone using location and time. It creates your travel timeline, groups photos by city, and plots pins on your travel map using only the information in your pictures.
Trevi launched as an iOS app in June of 2012 and has helped organize more than 2 and a half million photos across 10,000+ cities around the world. It's been said by several of our friends (and moms) that Trevi is amazeballs.
How did you come up with such an “amazeballs” idea?
We recognized that the iPhone had become the world's most popular camera and that most smartphone users have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos stored on their phones. Unless these photos are shared right away on Facebook or Instagram, they usually enter the great black hole towards the top of the camera roll, where they are never heard from again. We wanted a way to help people rediscover their photo memories and thought that viewing and discovering memories through the lens of travel was one of the best ways to do so.
We originally started asking our friends and family to use the app to see their travels. One of our friends happened to campaign around the country with Hillary Clinton in 2008 and had taken many photos along the way. When we saw the smile on his face as he rediscovered his campaign travels from one part of the US to another, we knew we had a hit.
What led you to build Trevi using Parse?
We attended a joint event sponsored by Parse and MixPanel and thought Parse was a great and cost-effective way to dramatically increase our development productivity, add new features in our app, and help to create a more integrated experience across iOS and Facebook.
Speaking of Facebook, how does that play into the app?
In addition to the Trevi iPhone app, we use Parse to power the Trevi Facebook app where users can see and share their travel map (created from their Trevi app and Facebook photos).
You mentioned that you saw Parse as a way to increase productivity; do you feel that this has played out the way you hoped?
For sure! Parse allowed us to focus on the fun part of making Trevi - creating a great user experience and novel product features - rather than worrying about storing data, creating accounts using Facebook, and sharing the data across our iPhone and Facebook apps. Overall, I would say that using Parse cut our development time by at least a month.
Which Parse features are you using and how do they factor into the app?
Parse takes care of a lot of the boiler-plate tech requirements such as authentication, persistence, querying and on/offline sync. We are using the Parse FB Connect for account creation so that people can create and share their travel maps on Facebook. We use the data component to store a user's travel map information and are working on other interesting ways to use and display this data in the future. We are also very big fans of the super flexible and easy-to-use data querying API. As we work to make Trevi one of the best travel apps out there, we'll certainly look to use the other powerful features of Parse.