Trover, a free mobile app for exploring places through photos, has launched an Android version after a good start on iOS in July. The Seattle-based startup is focused on what it calls "spatial browsing." Trover is a photo-sharing app that arranges discoveries on a map, so that users can either explore sights right around them or browse places around the world.
"Most of the apps out there today that are location-specific are delivering lists of content back to the user," says CEO Jason Karas. "We feel that exploring a space is not really done best through lists, that it's done through information that's organized in a spatial way. You can literally stroll around with our UI and take in the neighborhood just like you would when you're walking around."
Growing The User Base
Trover has been available on iPhone since July, and anyone can browse discoveries on a big screen at Trover.com. "The app hasn't changed much in its functionality since we launched in July," says Karas, "but we've been working like crazy getting Android online because our community is asking for it. They want to share with friends who aren't iPhone users."
Trover reports that over 100,000 users in 160 countries have downloaded the iPhone app, and its next goal is to grow to scale with Android. "It's such a social application," says Karas, "and the ability for more folks to use it is what really gets the flywheel spinning."
Social Is Just A Vector
As the iPhone app has gained traction, Trover has attracted a certain kind of user base. Karas calls them "hyperlocal influencers." These are users with very specific tastes and expertise who gain a following on Trover based around their interests.
But while following others is one way to discover things on Trover, one of the app's distinguishing features is its emphasis on the content itself rather than the users who created it. While other apps in the space like Yelp or Foursquare emphasize friends and personal achievements in order to drive participation, Trover just treats the social Web as "a vector" to help more users discover the real-world places shared on the network.
"We are a social network for sharing discoveries," Karas says, "but what we're sharing is not 'me and where I am.' What we're sharing is something that I've found."
Next Steps: Keywords, Tablets and Kitchen Tables
Karas says that keyword-based browsing is coming to Trover in the next few weeks. Currently, Trover use centers around spatial browsing, using the map interface to see whatever is around. Keyword browsing will allow users to filter for certain kinds of discoveries, like sushi or graffiti art.
After getting Trover onto all smartphones, Karas looks forward building to native tablet apps for iPad and Android. These will be more focused on the browsing aspect of Trover, "like when you're sitting in your living room or at the kitchen table," Karas says. "It will be more like the experience you see on Trover.com today where the images are sized according to their popularity."
"We think that the handset is the primary tool that you should use to go capture these discoveries," Karas says, "but why not also let people explore their neighborhood, or even another country, from the comfort of their computer?"