Those of you who’ve read some of my recent posts, or who follow me on Twitter, might have noticed that many of the photos I post are now circular.

No-one? Really?

Anyway… this is because for the last few months I’ve been taking most of my photos through an iPhone app called Rando, which – like many of my other major time-sucks – I found out about via my official app consultant Kimli.

What makes Rando different from all the other photo apps out there is that it’s an anonymous photo exchange service. What this means is that through the miracle of the internet, any photo you take and approve through the app will be sent out anonymously and at rando(m) to another user, and you’ll soon receive an anonymous photo back from another Rando-er (not the same person who received yours – there’s some kind of central pool of photos to be sent to the next person who contributes their own).

Most of the photos I get are admittedly rather dull (as Kimli has also noted on her Rando Tumblr – this link is SFW, but some other entries on that page are definitely NSFW!) – someone’s feet, a wall, a blurry pet of some kind, a backpack on someone’s floor – presumably because bored people will take photos of just about anything and send it out so they can get something more interesting back. This is frustrating, because I try to Give Good Rando by only sending interesting shots. I like sending photos of any art work I come across and, especially, the local scenery – like this shot taken of the Bowen Island ferry from the Sunshine Coast ferry,

or this lovely sunset taken near my house last Wednesday.


But occasionally I do receive something interesting enough to keep, like this sunset from just East of Aukland,


this misty lake on the Italian-Swiss border,


or this inviting path through the woods whose location will have to remain a mystery, because whoever sent it wouldn’t let Rando access their phone’s location services.


This kind of paranoia secrecy is rather annoying, because seeing where the photo’s from is the best part! I’ve received photos from all over the world (and, thanks to a recent update that lets you see where your own photos ended up, I know that I’ve sent mine all over the world too) – mostly South Korea for some reason, but all over Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, China, Russia, Netherlands, UK, India, and other countries too. And it’s not as if the location information you send out is high-resolution – the map you get shows the sender’s location at the city level, and you can’t zoom in or out at all. Check out this example I received over the Easter long weekend:



Associated location information:


All the photos you take through Rando automatically end up in the same location on your phone as all your other photos, and you can download any received Rando to the same place, although this isn’t automatic. While Rando does take a little while to boot up and get ready to take a photo, meaning that it introduces a longer-than-usual gap between spotting something interesting and being able to take a photo of it, it’s definitely worth it if you’re capturing a static target. Hours of fun, and the rudest image I’ve received so far was a blurry shot of some Russian dude’s bum crack, so relatively clean fun at that!


About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
This entry was posted in photos, screenshots, technology, the wonders of technology, Vancouver. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Rando

  1. Steve Caplan says:

    My question for you, Cath, is how do you know he’s a Russian dude?

  2. Brian Clegg says:

    What you don’t actually explain is WHY the photos are circular (even if it’s because Rando makes them like this, why?) For me it just doesn’t work as a shape. (It doesn’t for Occam’s Typewriter either – they all appear with a rectangular white border.)

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      It is just because Rando makes them like that, and I don’t know why they do 🙂 Maybe just because it’s so distinctive – if I see someone else post a circular photo on Twitter or elsewhere, I immediately know it’s a Rando.

      I think the circle actually works well on the phone screen itself – a blog with an off-white background just isn’t really the best medium for these photos! And as a non-photographer, I appreciate the circle making me more conscious of framing. But maybe that’s just me

      • rclr says:

        The circle gives the pictures a peephole effect, like a look through a telescope. I think it also links back visually to the O in Rando. And the “oh, isn’t that neat/weird” that the received pictures generate. I like it. Thanks, Cath, for the tip.

  3. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Just sent a meta-Rando, because I am a huge geek. If you got it and came here as a result – hi!

Comments are closed.