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Students launch app for location-based messages

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 02:12


Kyra Sturgill / The Tufts Daily

Four students last Tuesday unveiled the new iPhone and iPad application, Marko, which allows users to leave photos and notes in physical places that can only be viewed from the location in which they were taken.

Creators Nathaniel Hajian, Amadou Crookes, Spencer Schoeben and Gabriel Jacobs have been working on the application since September, they said. 

“We started brainstorming, and we wanted to do something that our friends would use,” Hajian, a junior, said. 

Crookes said that the app’s social nature gears it toward people outside of the tech community. 

“Although it’s competitive, we didn’t want to cross off [including] social networking or photo sharing,” Hajian said. “Marko is a combination of social networking, photo sharing and location sharing.” 

Jacobs said he believes Marko offers users a different type of technology. 

“A lot of technology makes you want to sit around and not do anything but look at the screen in front of you,” Jacobs, a junior, said. “Marko makes you want to go somewhere and see something.” 

Since its release last week, the app has gained over 500 users, Schoeben, a sophomore, said. On the first day Marko was available, the app was downloaded 350 times and 150 times on the second day. While the app works everywhere, its creators believe that mainly Tufts students are using the app. 

“We are mostly looking to learn from Tufts students,” Crookes, a junior, said. “We want to get their feedback.” 

Although the app was only released last week, the creators are already looking toward the future of Marko.

“Our vision is to incorporate a messaging aspect where users can see that someone has left them a message at a specific location, and the person receiving the message can only look at it at that location,” Hajian said. 

During the next few weeks, users will be exposed to more push notifications — messages that appear onscreen without needing to be opened — so that they can see what is happening and who is posting around them, the group said.  

Schoeben and Jacobs said there are also plans to expand the area in which users can see that people have posted content. 

“You’ll be able to see where people have left ‘marks’ within a certain distance of where you are,” Jacobs said. “You won’t be able to see exactly what they posted, but it will be an incentive to go there and check it out.” 

Jacobs hopes the app will be successful, pointing out that a lot of companies that are producing similar apps, such as Pinterest and Snapchat, have not made any profit yet.  The creators of Marko said they are hoping to generate user interest. 

In the future, however, he believes they can turn Marko into an app that will produce a profit.

The creators of Marko hope to eventually host brand coupons and promotions at targeted locations. Companies, through a brand share, could market discounts through Marko and offer specifics for people to find at designated locations, according to Schoeben. Other marketing strategies could include offering rewards to people who leave a certain number of pictures in given places. 

Hajian believes the Marko app has an interesting nostalgic quality. 

“It’s a powerful moment when you can go back to a spot that you once were and look at the pictures you took at that exact place,” Hajian said. 

Crookes said Marko’s best feature is that it allows users to see what their friends are doing, after the time has passed. 

“It’s like we’re making a time capsule for every location,” Crookes said. “You can join them there when you go the next time, and see what they did at any point in the past.”

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