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Klikaklu News

Klikaklu Shutting Down

Over time, Klikaklu has sadly become a difficult service for one individual to manage. Maintaining three aging code bases, fighting off a patent troll, complying with COPPA... I've been questioning my sanity for some time. Now, with the imminent deadline for the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, I've finally made the hard decision.

To be clear, I wholeheartedly support the spirit of the GDPR, and it's great we’re seeing some counter to the creepy trend of unfettered asymmetric data gathering. I’ve always attempted to minimize this in Klikaklu, and would likely have been able to comply without significant technical change. But as a sole proprietor, I just don’t have the resources to analyze, implement and guarantee compliance, and the financial risk of noncompliance is too great.

The GDPR becomes enforceable May 25th, so I will be shutting the service down the evening of May 24th. All hunts and account data on the server will be destroyed at that time, and the app will stop functioning properly.

I am sorry for the short notice, and the impact it may have on your plans. It has been a difficult decision to make, and I’ve put it off too long. If you purchased an annual subscription, or a hunt you were planning to run after that date, please contact me and I'll arrange an appropriate refund for you.

It's been a pleasure supporting so many creative and interesting events these last several years. In particular, the wedding proposals. I loved the wedding proposals.

Best wishes,

Ken Cooper

P.S. Do you have an interesting early stage project that could use the help of a seasoned tech creative? I’ll soon be available. You can learn more about me at

Troll Defeated!

This winter and spring we had the opportunity to experience first hand the pleasures of a patent troll shakedown.

Luckily we sought help from Daniel Nazer, Mark Cuban's Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents at the EFF, who calmed our nerves and referred us to the IP lawyer extraordinaire Rachael Lamkin.

Spoiler alert, we wouldn't settle, and they dropped the lawsuit without prejudice, but you can read all about it here: The Patent Troll and the Scavenger Hunt.

Android Player Beta!

We're pleased to announce that the Android Player version of Klikaklu is available as a sneak peek beta on the Google Play Store.

To install it, navigate to this link on the Google Play store in a browser on your Android device and install it as you would any other Android app.

This version is for players only. You still need an iOS device to create hunts. If there's enough interest, we'll extend the app to include hunt creation as well.

Hunt links shared from iOS (by email or text message) should open the app when you navigate to them from Android, just as they would on iOS. You can also play hunts created publicly (Play a Hunt->Find a Nearby Hunt), or by scanning a QR code (Play a Hunt->Scan a QR Code). QR codes can be printed on a poster or displayed by the creator's device.

If you wish to use video in your hunts, you must update to the latest version of Klikaklu (2.0.8 as of this writing) on the iOS app store first. The previous video format generated by iOS was not compatible with Android. Also: existing hunts will need their videos replaced with new versions.

If you have any issues or suggestions, you can report them directly from within the app: open the side menu from the home screen, then tap Having a Problem->Report a Problem.

Gated Start Times

A frequent problem we've seen with larger hunts is that some players start playing before the event has begun. To prevent this, you can now enter a start time for your hunt, and get a suspenseful countdown as a bonus!

To do so, tap on Hunt Details, then When, while editing your hunt:

Enable Start Time, then choose the date and time you want your event to start at.

That's all you need to do. Your players will then be shown a live countdown screen, like this:

Improved Clue Play Order

When players start at the same time on a hunt, they're tempted to watch what others do and simply follow along. Klikaklu has offered help for this in the past, but in our latest version we've have made strides to give you the tools to avoid the problem.

Staggered Clue Order

For some time, Klikaklu has offered the ability to stagger the clue order for each player. Using staggering, play looks like this:

This works fine for many cases. For those who locate their clues packed into the same general area though, just staggering the clues isn't enough. Players catch up with one another, and start following each other.

Shuffled Clue Order

To improve upon this, you can now shuffle hunt play order instead. Using shuffling, play looks like this:

Common Last Clue

Another common request is that players end up in the same place at the end. You can now specify that the last clue stays common if you stagger or shuffle your clues, yielding play like this:

Grouping Clues

For some hunts, simply shuffling or staggering clues can causes problems. Hunts like road rallys, for example, where you might want to place more than a single clue at a destination. Some players may end up having to return to a destination a second time in order to complete the hunt. This is a sure fire way to generate arguments if your players are the least bit competitive. Not fun, and that's what Klikaklu is about!

To solve this, you can group clues in Klikaklu, using our grouping editor.

Visualizing Play Order

Finally, in case you're having a hard time visualizing how your hunt will proceed, you can preview the path your players will take:

Expanded COPPA Support

A frequent request we've had from our customers is to allow for children younger than 13. We're happy to report that we have done the work necessary and acquired safety certification to do so from a well respected and federally approved children privacy organization, kidSAFE. As a result, our site now proudly displays kidSAFE's COPPA Certified seal, like this:

Klikaklu (mobile app) is listed by the kidSAFE Seal Program.

In the process, we've updated our privacy policy to explain the requirements for parents, teachers, and other organizations, which you can read here.

Klikaklu 2.0!

We're excited to announce that Klikaklu 2.0 is live and in the App Store!

This release is a major update, representing countless hours of effort. Much of it is subtle or beneath the surface, but we've added some great new features you've been asking for as well:

  • Optional scoring, with a running scoreboard during the hunt. You can set different points per clue, dock points for hint usage and quiz failures, and even penalize or award your players on the fly during the hunt.
  • With or without scoring, you can observe the status of players as the hunt proceeds, using auto-update.
  • Image matching is significantly improved: it's more forgiving with angles and shadows, and matches more quickly.
  • Players, anonymous or otherwise, can now use custom names for each hunt they play.
  • Hunts can now be password protected.
  • You can now ‘close’ a hunt, which prevents new players from entering, and informs straggling players to ‘return to base’.
  • Players can now use the front facing camera and control the flash for free form clues.
  • All images captured in the app are now added to a Klikaklu album in your Photos library.

As part of the update, we've switched from a single app purchase to per hunt and subscription pricing, and small hunts are now free to create. See Pricing for more details.

For our loyal Premium and Creator customers: we're crediting your account with a two year subscription to create as many noncommercial hunts with up to 30 players as you wish. And hunts you’ve created in the past are grandfathered in with an unlimited number of players and clues. For more information, see our FAQ on the transition.

Klikaklu is Moving!

Earlier this year, Klikaklu’s server host announced they were shutting down, leaving us with a big choice: build and maintain our own servers, or discontinue Klikaklu. I’m happy to announce we've forged ahead and further invested in the service, and will soon be delivering a new and improved Klikaklu.

What does this mean for you? Please, read on.


A new version of the free Klikaklu app (formerly named Klikaklu Player, same app) will be available in the App store on Monday, October 10th. You must upgrade to this new version to continue using Klikaklu. To do so, we recommend you enable Automatic Downloads on your device (Settings->iTunes & App Stores->Updates), but you can also manually download it at that time by going to App Store->Updates.

Klikaklu’s servers will be unavailable from Saturday, October 8th at 11 PM Pacific Time, until Monday morning at 8 AM Pacific Time, as we make the transition to our new servers. Hunts run during this time will not work.

We will be discontinuing Klikaklu Creator. If you had previously purchased Klikaklu Creator, you must install the free Klikaklu app instead. Before you delete Klikaklu Creator, make a note of your username; to ensure you receive the credit we are offering loyal customers (see below), you must sign in to your existing account from within the free Klikaklu app.

Whether you are switching from Klikaklu Creator or upgrading Klikaklu Player, your account will remain intact, containing the existing hunts you’ve created or played.


We've been hard at work improving Klikaklu's overall quality and adding your frequently requested features:

  • Optional scoring, with a running scoreboard during the hunt. You can set different points per clue, dock points for hint usage and quiz failures, and even penalize or award your players on the fly during the hunt.
  • With or without scoring, you can observe the status of players as the hunt proceeds, using auto-update.
  • Image matching is significantly improved: it's more forgiving with angles and shadows, and matches more quickly.
  • Players, anonymous or otherwise, can now use custom names for each hunt they play.
  • Hunts can now be password protected.
  • You can now ‘close’ a hunt, which prevents new players from entering, and informs straggling players to ‘return to base’.
  • Players can now use the front facing camera and control the flash for free form clues.
  • All images captured in the app are now added to a Klikaklu album in your Photos library.

New Pricing

We’re switching from a one time app purchase to per-hunt and subscription purchases, with different categories of usage (personal, educational, nonprofit, and business). This is for hunt creation - as in the past, Klikaklu is free for players. Also: the creation of small noncommercial hunts with up to 2 players is now free.

If you are one of our loyal Premium and Creator customers, we appreciate your support! We are crediting your account with a two year subscription to create as many noncommercial hunts with up to 30 players as you wish. And hunts you’ve created in the past are grandfathered in with an unlimited number of players and clues.

We have created a FAQ for the transition and our new pricing. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

I am excited about this release, and confident this new approach will enable us to continue bringing you fun and useful tools.

Happy Hunting!

Ken Cooper

Klikaklu Discussions

By popular demand, we've added Klikaklu Discussions, a place where you can find How-To's, trade tips on hunt creation, and get your hunt questions answered. We'll be moving all future announcements over there as well.

Come join the community!

Klikaklu Explained

I recently wrote up the following response to a question about how best to characterize Klikaklu. Since this isn't available anywhere else on our site, and Klikaklu is a versatile app, it's worth including here.

Klikaklu is about getting others to physically follow a trail you've created, to share details about a location they might otherwise miss, to navigate them to particular spots, and to reveal hidden secrets in a fun, creative way. For players, it's about the thrill of the hunt. There are several scenarios it works well for:


You can send a group of people on a hunt. This is great for classroom learning, field trips, parties, team building, orientations, church picnics, that sort of thing. I recently hosted an extended family road rally this way that was a lot of fun, and we're seeing particularly strong interest from educators for using it as a learning tool.

In this case, players are typically grouped into teams, with each team having a device. Since groups tend to start at the same time, you would typically set the type of hunt to scavenger hunt (where players can find the clues in random order, and all are revealed from the start), or a staggered treasure hunt (where the first clue shown for each team is different, but they still follow a single order).

You can give your players the hunt by a) making the hunt public, in which case they can go to the Play a Hunt->Find Nearby screen; by emailing/texting them all a link; or by printing a poster (it will contain a QR code that may be scanned from the Play a Hunt->Scan a Poster screen).

Click here to see what your poster will look like (there's also a black and white version, and you can create your own with the QR code).

You share your hunt by tapping the Share button on the Hunt Overview screen once you've saved it.

Two Devices

You can send a single friend on a hunt. This makes for an interesting way to present a significant gift, communicate in a funny way, rendezvous at a romantic spot, or lead someone to a surprise party. My wife did this for me on Father's Day - she sent me with our boys on a bike ride hunt that led us to meet her at a nice restaurant.

When working with a single individual like this, it's best to send them a link to the hunt via text or email, which they'll be able to open from their phone to take them on their way. You do this by tapping the Share button from the Hunt Overview screen once you've created the hunt.

Sharing a Device

This is great for a parent to play with their child (I actually wrote Klikaklu originally to get my boys out on hikes with me). Example usages would be keeping the kids busy in an airport, getting them out on a hike, or sending them on a hunt to reveal that shiny new bike.

To use Klikaklu in this way, after you've created a hunt, tap Play and either play as yourself (with no points/badges accrued), or first create an account for your child (you can switch back and forth from the profile screen), then tap 'Switch to XXX's account', in which case you'll be signed in as them, and the hunt will be started.

As a Single Player

With public hunts, you can also create or play by yourself, in the spirit of geocaching or letterboxing. At this point there aren't many hunts out there, but you can create them (if you're 13 or over). Public hunts are great for such things as setting up walking tours, showing off your favorite eateries, creating fun physical checklists ("climb all the 14k mountains in the US!"). Other players can like and comment on your hunts (you will optionally be notified when they do), and you get badges for creating/playing hunts in different cities/states/countries. You can see all the available badges from your profile.

Some other things to note:

  • Klikaklu works offline, but requires a cell/wifi connection at the beginning and end of a hunt.
  • You can re-edit hunts you've saved, and you can reorder/delete clues (tap the Edit button on the Edit Hunt screen).
  • While playing, if the image matching or GPS isn't working out, players can override them, and the host can then verify what they did.
  • Shadows matter for image matching, so either do a hunt immediately, at the same time of day, or choose strictly 2D subjects, like signs.
  • Choose 'edgy' subject matter for your clue images. Organic subjects like bushes and noisy but monotonous patterns like carpeting don't work well.
  • You can add hints to your clues to help your players out.
  • You can add rewards (images and/or text) to your clues and to the hunt itself. You can include links and phone numbers to make it easy to say something like 'Let's meet at The Creamery' at the end. For kids, I've used jokes and funny animal images from the web to good effect.
  • You can choose to be notified when players complete clues and/or the hunt, so if you're need to know how they're progressing, you can. (This is disabled for public hunts, to avoid any possible stalking of players.) To build the tension in group hunts, you can also have players be notified of each other's progress. This requires relatively continuous internet connectivity for the players (cell network is fine).
  • Klikaklu is age-gated to make it a more kid safe experience (as parents we're pretty sensitive to this). The owner of the app is asked their birthday, and subsequently they are restricted according to their age. Kids under 13 may play hunts, but may not create them. They are also not allowed to comment on hunts, upload a personal image, or add images to their responses. In general, there is no personal information collected from them (analytics are disabled). Ads will show however (without any contextualization) unless the app is upgraded.

Featured by Apple!

Last week we were graced by Apple as 'New and Noteworthy', and today, after scrambling to provide them with artwork at short notice, they featured us in the Navigation category!

Thanks, Apple!

Click a Clue!

Just watched a great Klikaklu mention from the friendly folks hosting the Techlandia Podcast.

Thanks, Alison!

Klikaklu Updates

In response to feedback, and to cross a few items off our todo list, we've recently released a few updates to Klikaklu. Here's what we've done recently:

  • Added support for iPod Touch and iPad We were happily surprised by the interest from educators, and didn't realize just how pervasive iPod Touches and iPads have become in schools. To address this, we've enabled basic support for both device types. At this point, Klikaklu is still an iPhone app, which means it will appear in the smaller format on an iPad. This will improve in the future.
  • Stagger started treasure hunts You can now choose an additional hunt type, Staggered Treasure Hunt, that will automatically start each player on a different clue. So the first player will start with clue #1, the second, clue #2, and so on. If you have more players than clues, Klikaklu will cycle back to the first clue.

    There are situations where you don't want some clues to be eligible as a first clue. Perhaps you're doing a road rally hunt with clues spread out at multiple locations, and you don't teams to start midway through the clues at a location, or perhaps you have two clues that are close enough to one another that you don't want one team to see another. To handle this, you can exclude specific clues from the startup list.

  • Deleting HuntsYou can now delete hunts you've created. Remember that when you do so, you will also delete any hunt plays associated with them, which your players might not take kindly to. Also, your players may not see that the hunt has been deleted until after they refresh their local lists.
  • Outline matching in bright sunlight When playing a hunt in harsh sun conditions, people often had difficulty seeing the overlaid reference image they were trying to match, which made it difficult to position the camera correctly. We now generate an outline of the image's interesting borders in bright white, which should make this easier.
  • Help with Firewalls We realize some of you are working behind firewalls. Our server address for whitelists is In the event that you require an IP address, you can now view it from the Diagnostics page. server
  • Added anonymous initial users. People just wanting to try Klikaklu out weren't able to do so without signing up. While signing up doesn't require any personal information, it's still a little extra work. So now you can play as a 'Tire Kicker'. There are some restrictions - you can't, for example, create or play a public hunt without signing in. If you decide you want to sign up after trying it out, you can simply tap on the user profile section of the home screen. Your existing data will be transferred to the new account.
  • Added tips for creating good hunts. With some experience now under our belts, and feedback from you, we've written up some suggestions of how to make your hunts more enjoyable for your players, and made them available from within the app.
  • Bug Fixes, Better Error Reporting, and Minor Improvements

Stay tuned! There will be more to come!

What Makes a Good Hunt?

[Edit: We've started a discussion forum for people to share information about creating hunts. It contains many how-to guides and frequently asked questions. It also contains an updated version of this blog post.

Come join us there!]

We've been asked what makes a good public hunt, and having made a few ourselves, we have some suggestions to offer.

Keep It Interesting

This is obviously the most important element. Someone is taking their precious time to follow the path you laid out, don't waste it on a bland tour of your local supermarket's aisles. Have an interesting inner city walk or challenging rural bike ride you particularly enjoy? Is there a breathtaking overlook or meditative stream few are aware of? Or perhaps you have an eye for interesting detail in an otherwise mundane everyday setting? Focus on what surprises and interests you.

There Are All Kinds of Interesting

Maybe interesting to you means highlighting seminal architecture or unusual geological formations. Maybe it's a tour of your favorite sweets shops. Maybe the interest is less in the path, and more in the details: an inspired work of art, an ironic sign, a relevant but often missed public notice.

Maybe you want to create a bucket list for others: require them to visit the best tourist sites in Seattle, or climb all the tallest mountains in the US. (Some hunts might be harder to create than others!)

Maybe you want a slow, savory hunt, or perhaps you're more interested in a fast and frantic rally, searching for the giant "W".

Whatever it is, put yourself in the shoes of your players, as they'll soon be walking in your footsteps. Is it for kids? Make sure there's space to run around without traffic, and don't take your pictures from an adult's eye level. Are these chiseled-bodied X-gamers? Make the clues extremely difficult to reach. Older couples? Keep it on a smooth, level path.

Set Expectations

Your hunt's description should give some sense of its character. If there is difficult terrain, let people know. If it's a bar crawl, kids shouldn't be playing it, so let their parents know.

Inform people regarding how much time your hunt will require. You can do this by setting Time Required on the Hunt Details screen.

Consider The Passing of Time

Your hunt may be around for a long time. Will that painting on the wall still be here in a year? Are you in snow country? Will it melt in the spring? In either case, your clues will likely stop matching as time goes by. Try to find subjects that have a good chance of lasting for awhile.

Be Appropriate

If your hunt is public, you absolutely MUST avoid private spaces. And of course, avoid inflammatory or potentially offensive content. Your hunt will likely be removed if doesn't follow these guidelines, and your account potentially suspended.

Titles Can Be Fun

Play with your clue and hunt titles to add more texture. They can even be subtle (or not so subtle) hints, like "Under the Boardwalk". Just don't give it all away!

Choose Good Clue Subjects

People will enjoy your hunt more if the clues match consistently. To improve matching under varied conditions, here are some things to consider:

  • Find subjects with good contrast and sharp edges. Organic elements like trees and bushes won't match well. Nor will mottled or regular textures, like grass, carpet, or sand. Good lighting will also ensure better contrast as well.
  • Shadows matter. Klikaklu's image matching can be fooled into thinking shadows are part of the subject, and the matching may fail as light conditions change through the day. You're best off using flat elements (e.g. paintings, signs, unusual horizons) that have little likelihood of casting shadows, or using locations where natural light changes little.
  • It is more difficult to match an image in direct sunlight, since it can be hard to see the screen. It works, but it will make your players squint a bit more.

Check Your Locations

The GPS in your phone is great, but it will occasionally put the pins for your clues inside walls, up trees, in the middle of a lake, etc., which might be slightly misleading to your players. Verify a clue is in the correct location by tapping Adjust on Map from the Clue Details screen. If it's off, you can drag the pin to the correct spot.

Include Hints For Difficult Clues

This isn't as hard as it sounds. You can simply take a picture of the surroundings, to lead them to the subject. You can of course get as creative as you wish, with visual or verbal riddles.

Again, consider your subjects; if they're kids, you'll want to make the hunts easy. If they can't yet read, you'll want to use pictures. And avoid references your likely audience won't understand (for example, if they aren't familiar with the graphic novel Bone, they're not going to understand references to Rat Creatures and Quiche).

Include a Reward!

While the journey itself should be the reward, you'll delight your players even more if there's something waiting for them at the end. This can be a joke, a personal anecdote/commentary about the spot they're standing on, a link to a relevant website, a silly picture, a call to meet the rest of the hunters somewhere, or some other interesting tidbit you think of.

How About You?

Got any tips of your own? We'd love to hear them in the comments!


I'm excited to announce Klikaklu is in the App Store!

What started as a sneaky ploy to get our kids outside has become a bonafide product.

It's been a fun if rather obsessive journey, with a lot of great support from friends and family.

And to top it off, we just got this great writeup on GeekWire: Reinventing the scavenger hunt: This new iPhone app brings a high-tech twist to this age-old family game

Coming Soon!

Klikaklu is nearly ready for public consumption. We're putting the last finishing touches on before submitting it for App Store approval. If you're interested in participating in the beta, we may still have a few invites left. Click here to find out.