I’ve recently been guilty of using the term map wallpaper as a mild form of pejorative; meaning maps that are great for showing geographical context but which don’t really show anything else. I’m also guilty of overusing the phrase eye candy; something which is eye catching but ultimately superficial.
Then along comes an eye candy map wallpaper app for my MacBook Pro and all pejoratives are instantly replaced with superlatives. Yes, this is eye candy. Yes, this is map wallpaper. But in this case the geographical context is spot on and it’s definitely eye catching without being superficial in any way.
The man behind this wonderful piece of geolocated satellite imagery is Tom Taylor, who has previously blown my mind with his Boundaries visualisation of how London’s neighbourhoods are perceived by way of Flickr’s Alpha shape files.
The app is Satellite Eyes which, once installed on your Mac (sorry Windows and Linux users, you can’t come to the party), hooks into the geolocation functionality built into the operating system and pulls down Bing’s satellite imagery and uses it for your wallpaper, centred around your current location, such as where I live in the wilds of South West London.
Move around a city with your laptop moving with you and the imagery updates itself. Yesterday morning I was in London’s Soho Square and sure enough, my laptop knew this and showed me, together with an overhead view of the construction sites for London’s CrossRail project.
Map wallpaper in the truest sense of the word. What isn’t there to like about this?