Interview with PopSpotter Creator Steve Wozniak

Image Credit: Steve Wozniak /

Image Credit: Steve Wozniak /

Ever have the urge to find a spot shown in your favorite movie or TV Show? I know I have and so did Steve Wozniak. Unlike me, he took that urge (along with some serious techy know how) and did something with it! He developed an awesome iPhone application called PopSpotter that let’s you do just that. We here at the Daily Quirk think it’s pretty awesome (so much so that it’s our current Quirky Item of the Week) and were jazzed to chat with Steve about the app’s development and abilities.

Read on for the interview!

The Daily Quirk: How did you come up with the idea for the PopSpotter App?
Steve Wozniak: I remember the first time I watched the movie Clerks… it all takes place in this convenience store in New Jersey called the Quick Stop. I grew up in NJ and I had always wondered if it was a real convenience store or something they just made up for the movie. It turned out to be very real, and I wanted to go see it, because why not? A few years down the line, I found myself adventuring around New York City, and I happened upon Tom’s Restaurant – which is better known as the place with the big bright neon RESTAURANT sign on it from Seinfeld. Later that day, I found myself on the corner of 52nd and Broadway, which is mentioned in the chorus to one of my favorite Rancid songs, Olympia, WA.

I realized it was pretty fun running into these things, and I wondered what else was around. I had always thought about making an app, and I was pretty surprised to see no one had built one to help you find famous spots from movies, television, and music. So I did it. Take that, everyone else.

TDQ: How long did it take to take the concept from an idea to a working application? What was the process like?
SW: I designed, developed, and released the app in exactly two months. I had already come up with the idea, so I had a good idea of how it would look and feel. I enjoyed building it, and was really excited to have the first version finished so quickly. I’m a website developer by day, so I’m used to making compromises to make websites look good on phones. It was really nice to build a native app – they’re way faster, and they run a lot smoother.

TDQ: Can you tell us a little about what the PopSpotter App does? 
SW: PopSpotter is a pop culture map on your phone. It shows you what’s near you that has been featured in movies, television, and music, and it provides directions on how to get there. You can also browse through the categories to find spots from your favorite shows and movies, and once you get there, you can use it to take a photo and share it on Facebook and Twitter. You can also search by city, so if you are taking a trip you can find yourself some unique vacation stops.

TDQ: What kind of places can people find with the app?
SW: Everything from the actual locations where movies were shot to the places that inspired fictitious places.

For example, the TV show How I Met Your Mother often takes place in MacLaren’s Pub, a fictional bar in NYC that’s filmed on a soundstage, but it’s based on a real bar called McGee’s, which is located in Midtown NYC. The Gothic Castle from Arrested Development was inspired by a real venue for magician’s called the Magic Castle. Even the town of Bluffington from the cartoon Doug was based on the creator’s hometown, Richmond, VA.

Other scenes were actually shot in real-life locations, so you can use PopSpotter to find the firehouse from Ghostbusters, the diner from When Harry Met Sally, the Dunder Mifflin building from the Office, Casa Bonita from South Park (seriously), and hundreds of other locations.

TDQ: Why do you think visiting famous pop culture spots has such an appeal to people?
SW: Americans love their TV and movies – myself included. Today it’s easier than ever to be more in touch with your favorite shows of choice – DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s brought all sorts of extras – deleted scenes and alternate endings, and the Internet has provided fans with way more knowledge about their favorites than they could ever imagine. To me, PopSpotter is just another step for hardcore fans to geek out on their favorites.

Plus, I think there’s a certain magic to stepping into the worlds we’ve only seen on the big screen. Ask anyone who’s been to Universal Studios before and they’ll know what I mean.

TDQ: How did you go about compiling the places and locations? Will the app continue to be updated with new locations?
SW: I have several sources for the locations. I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, so I see signs up all the time for what’s filming and where. Film locations seem to be a hot topic lately, so lots of blogs like to post where movies are filming as they occur. And some of the most popular ones are just common knowledge at this point. But a large amount actually come through to me from word of mouth – my time briefly spent as a touring musician has opened me up to a network of local secrets all over the US.

I keep the app updated regularly. I’ve added over 200 locations since first releasing the app in October, and update every time I have new location information.

TDQ: Can people use the app to interact with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter?
SW: Yes – you can check in to places on Facebook and Twitter and share photos as you discover new places.

TDQ: What phones/platforms is the app available for?
SW: It’s available for the iPhone and the iPod touch. You’ll need a data connection (3G/4G or Wi-Fi) to pull down location data. As long as you have a somewhat recent version of iOS (4.3 or newer), it will work for you. I’d like to do an iPad version at some point, and the Android version is coming along slowly but surely.

TDQ: How can people purchase the app?
SW: It’s available from the App Store – either by searching “PopSpotter” or visiting the iTunes Store.

TDQ: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
SW: If you’re not sure if the app has anything around you, check out the website and click on “see the map” to see a heatmap of locations displayed across the US. And thank you very much for reading this article and checking out PopSpotter.

Also, I still haven’t been to the Quick Stop. But now I know how to get there.

We would like to thank Steve for telling us more about PopSpotter! Check out the PopSpotter Site for more information on this super fun application!

TDQ Tags TDQblogger001

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