Satellite Eyes · Jun 22, 10:26 AM

In a break from my usual very minimal desktop, I’ve been having fun the last few days running Tom Taylor’s Satellite Eyes, a little app that sets your desktop background to a map of your current location.

Here’s me at home:

And out working in Massaro’s in Cambridge city center:

Although I generally don’t like a noisy desktop image, I’ve been very much enjoying the context that Satellite Eyes gives you. It’s a nice way to remind yourself that there’s a world around you – the zoom level is set so that you can see bits of your area you probably haven’t given much thought to on your daily commute.

It’s also a nice reminder that OS X has location services built in, just not many thing use it. It’s not GPS, so it’s only roughly accurate, but in both those images it’s near enough (to within 50 meters) that it’s not an issue. There’s a lot of things that I think the desktop could do if developers took advantage of this – we could optimise our UIs based on the user’s location (showing personal stuff at home, and work stuff at the office, as a simple example). I even wrote a small library to help with that sort of thing a while ago.

The one thing that throws me about having a map on my desktop is that I can’t start scrolling it or dragging it around – I’m so used to the affordances of Google Maps in a browser. Of course, you can scroll it – you just need to do so with your legsā€¦

Satellite Eyes is free, so if you’re on a Mac then go download it and have a look around your neighbourhood.

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