Photos, videos, text messages and voice notes: Incubate is basically a digital time capsule for your future self.
In the Nineties, time capsules were all the rage. You may well have made one yourself: it required writing a letter to future generations, gathering a collection of era-defining things (a Backstreet Boys CD, some body glitter gel and a Blue Peter badge, perhaps), and burying the whole lot in a plastic tub in your back garden. The idea was that, in years to come, someone would discover the capsule and be blown away by its historical significance.
We’ve come to terms with the fact that our own time capsules are likely to have been dug up by foxes by now – but that doesn’t mean we’re not still fascinated by the idea of recording things for posterity. So we were intrigued to hear about the existence of Incubate, a free app that allows you to send digital time capsules into the future.
Incubate makes it possible to schedule text messages, voice notes, videos and photos to be sent to yourself, your friends and family up to 25 years in advance. The messages won’t be delivered until the programmed date, making them a poignant record of (what will by then be) the past.
For example, if you’re about to turn 30, you could send videos from your big birthday blowout to yourself in 2043 (by which time you’d be 55). Alternatively, you could write a letter to be delivered to your newborn nephew on his 18th birthday in 2035 – or schedule a batch of throwback photos to arrive in your best friend’s phone when she turns 40.
The app has been around since 2015, but came to our attention because of a new feature called Incubate My Wedding, which allows wedding guests to send photos and videos from the ceremony and reception to the married couple at a moment in the future.
Speaking to Brides magazine, Incubate founder Michael McCluney says that while he didn’t create the app specifically to be used at weddings, he soon started receiving requests from soon-to-be-married couples.
“They wanted help getting their weddings guests to Incubate their weddings so that they could continue to receive never-before-seen videos and pictures for years to come,” he says. “Essentially, they didn’t want their wedding days to end.”
The Incubate My Wedding app extension costs a mildly eye-watering $299 (£225), but it may be worth it if you’re getting married and want to capture every single angle of the day.
“Every bride in history has said ‘My wedding day was a blur’, but now it doesn’t have to be,” says McCluney. “You will receive messages from the biggest day of your life from those who you love most, [meaning that] your wedding day never ends.
“And there is nothing more special than being reconnected with those loved ones for years to come.”
Of course, Incubate could potentially cause problems if the couple in question goes on to divorce – only to keep being bombarded with photos from their wedding day for the rest of their lives.
In that situation, all users have to do is delete the app: both the sender and recipient have to have it installed to open the messages, meaning that it’s easy to avoid if you decide you really don’t want to receive that particular blast from the past.
Images: Rawpixel / iStock