Mini-review of Sun Scout app

I finally gave in and upgraded my phone (iPhone 3G) and my wife’s phone (older RAZR) to iPhone 4’s this week. Since I had skipped the 3GS, this was my first extended experience with all the new cool stuff like compass and video, and now with the iPhone 4 the gyroscope and retina display. (I am definitely enjoying the upgrade, but I did find out something about my wife that I did not know: her normal method of holding her phone is the dreaded “iPhone death grip.”)

I wanted to try out an app that took advantage of some of the new features and found Sun Scout by fellow indie developer, Benjohn Barnes of Splendid Things. SunScout’s website says:

Sun Scout shows you live what your phone’s camera sees, but augments the image with where the sun will be at each hour of the day. To see everything that might cast a shadow on you, simply sweep your phone across the sky from dawn to dusk.

and Benjohn also has a video tutorial on calibrating your iPhone compass so that SunScout works best.

Track of sun across the sky at hourly intervals, large arrow points the way to current sun track
SunScout is an augmented reality app with a clear, single purpose: Show me where the sun will be based on my current position. Once I calibrated my compass, I checked the image for 18:00 (my current time) and it was within a few degrees of the actual position of the sun. So SunScout fulfills it’s basic mission just fine. The sun track is displayed for each hour which seems to be enough information to be useful without overcrowding the image.

In cases where you cannot currently see the sun because it’s night, heavily overcast, or you live in the UK like Benjohn where it only comes out once in awhile, he has added a large yellow arrow that directs you back towards the sun’s arc for the day.

Like many iPhone users, I download and try quite a few apps that I delete shortly thereafter. But, this simple app is interesting and useful enough that it stays.