App review by
Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Media
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Sophisticated look back in time via geo-located images.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn more about their world and how they fit into it with Historypin. Images are powerful learning tools, and historical photos extend that learning through time. Set in real-world context and location, these photos give users the opportunity to view, interpret, question, and extend their respect and understanding of others as well as events in history. Historypin is an engaging way for kids to delve into history and learn more about others.

Ease of Play

The app is easy to explore, and posting/pinning is also easy, but posting was sometimes glitchy on the Android version of the app. The iOS app has more features than the Android app, such as the ability to search for and view channels, and to view "tours," step-by-step journeys through historical recordings. These are also available on the website.


Content is user-submitted and could potentially include violent images. Some of the tours (on the website and iOS app) refer to violence in a historical context, such as a World War II tour that shows an atomic cloud over Hiroshima. Users can flag inappropriate content on the Historypin website, but not in the app.


Images in the "love collection" consist mostly of hugging or holding. Users can flag inappropriate content on the Historypin website, but not in the app; we didn't see any inappropriate content during our review.


Users can flag inappropriate content on the Historypin website, but not in the app; we didn't see any inappropriate content during our review.


Brand names are mentioned in a historical context. For example, in the iOS app and on the Historypin website, a Chevrolet channel features photos and info about the automobile brand.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

We didn't see any references to drinking, drug, or smoking during our review, but because content is user-submitted, the potential is there. Any references would be in a historical context.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Historypin is an innovative way to explore and share historical photos across the globe and through time. It is designed to be an intergenerational project, connecting families and communities. Kids can view the app and website without registering, but to post content, they'll need to register using a Google account. Registered users must be 16 or have permission from a parent or guardian. Usernames display with pinned photos. The content on Historypin is user-generated; during our review, we didn't see content inappropriate for the target age. 

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What's it about?

Users can easily zoom in or out and swipe around the world and tap on historical photos that have been associated with locations by users, adjusting time range between 1840 and 2013 if desired. Registered users can post photos in a few easy steps with caption, background story, and exact or date range. Thematic photo collections set the tone and can be browsed as a slideshow. "Modern replicas" can be taken and overlaid on historic ones. The iOS version of the app has much better features and functionality than the Android version of the app.

Is it any good?

HISTORYPIN alters your sense of time and community, creating human connections with easily accessible images. Users can define any range of dates between 1840 and today, or browse collections like Protest, 1906 Earthquake and Fire, Facial Hair Through Time, and Seaside Collection. Registered users can also easily contribute by pulling from their device's gallery or by taking a current photo through the app, sometimes to create an "overlay" or a modern version of a historic photo taken from the same vantage point. Some places are better represented than others, but there is something to look at in nearly every region or country in the world, even a couple of Korean War posts pinned to North Korea by an American. Some posts are in Russian, but most are English. Many contributors are historical organizations such as the California State Library, or family groups like Rowley Family History. Others are from Mirrorpix Archives. Classic iconic (copyrighted) images are not included.

Teens using the app should also visit the Historypin website, which has an informative and extensive FAQ covering everything from the history of the service to how to use the site to copyright concerns. The website is also home to features that don't appear in the app, especially in the Android app, which has fewer features. For example, users with the iOS app can access their own channel and search for other channels, but they'll need to go to the website to personalize their channel. The Android app makes no mention of channels at all. Still, even the bare-bones Android version of the service offers a great experience exploring history.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Dig out a special historical family photo, discuss it, and allow your kids to post.

  • Challenge your kids to find an existing photo in your area and create an overlay.

  • Attend a historical event as a family and allow your kids to upload a photo.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding, events, exploration, geography, global awareness, history
    Language & Reading: naming, presenting to others, reading comprehension, storytelling, text analysis, writing
    Arts: photography
  • Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation, evaluating media messages, using and applying technology
    Creativity: combining knowledge, producing new content
    Communication: conveying messages effectively, multiple forms of expression, presenting
    Thinking & Reasoning: collecting data
    Self-Direction: initiative, personal growth, self-reflection
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: July 19, 2011
  • Category: Travel
  • Topics: History
  • Size: 1.00 MB
  • Publisher: We Are What We Do
  • Version: 1.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 4.3 or later; Android 2.2 and up
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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