Gear and Gizmos
Mayor of the coffee shop, duke of the bookstore, newbie in a new town.
Location-based travel apps have gathered a lot of buzz lately. If your friends are attention junkies, the facebook and twitter updates when they “check in” at their favourite joints might be driving you crazy.
But travelers: don’t dismiss these smartphone apps as a vain popularity contest — you could miss out on the best mochaccino and croissant of your life. To save you time, FlightNetwork has done the heavy lifting to help you pick the best one.
We looked at three of the most popular applications for travelers: Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp. Read on to see why you should download an app, how our competitors performed and who claimed the travel trophy.
(note: Facebook Places is getting popular because of the 500 million users; however there is very little info for travelers, so we didn’t include it in this review.)
Location-based travel apps on your smartphone are like a travel guide on steroids and your best friend in a foreign city… combined in one tidy package that fits in your pocket.
Imagine: you’re visiting a foreign city where you don’t know any locals. After visiting the museums, you want to rest your feet at a café. You could visit an overpriced joint from your travel guide, settle for Starbucks… or tap your phone and find the hidden gem in the Latin Quarter all the hipsters are raving about.
Location-based travel apps let you experience the best secrets of every city you visit. You’ll quickly believe you’re a local, too.
For certain cities, the simple winner might be whichever app has users there: not every city has many users posting places and reviews on smartphone apps (unfortunately, Canadian cities feature even fewer reviews).
For most popular travel destinations, FlightNetwork’s shot-by-shot comparison will help you decide which app is best:
The Monocle turns on your camera and displays Yelp information through augmented reality. “Augmented reality” is a remarkable tool for travelers: it replaces your eyes with the eyes of a local who knows everything about the city you’re visiting.
As you land in a city, you look through your phone’s camera at what’s around. The app displays pop-ups over the live camera image to show you what’s available in the direction you’re looking. Need a restaurant?: turn around and see all the restaurants pop up in every direction. Then click on the restaurant listing to read reviews. (watch the Monocle perform in this cnet.com video)
Your days of feeling lost in a new city are over.
On all other devices, though, Yelp still comes out ahead as the most useful smartphone app for travelers.
It boils down to an important distinction. Yelp is a travel tool first, geared to giving detailed information when you need it. Foursquare and Gowalla focus on the check-in feature, which means they’re geared toward getting information from those who visit locations frequently.
When you need info on the fly – or as you’re flying around the world – Yelp is your tool.
entry by Andrew Kaszowski