The Interactive Travel Guide

in Technology

Lonely Planet may very well have given up. So it seems anyway. In the burgeoning (some zealous journalists seem to think ‘revolutionary') world of travel apps, their offering seems fairly meagre. Yes it's free to download, and by yesterday's standards may have been sufficient, but it pales in comparison to other apps.
It seems that the company may be naively holding on to the idea of selling book travel guides. While the travel book market may not be dead, they are likely to see diminishing returns if they don't watch what their competitors are doing.
Smart phones seem to be leading the way in most technological matters, offering a new way to access and consume information, half way to an autonomy device to rule them all. Anything that can be done digitally, it seems is being done by these small devices, which, for better or worse, have remodelled modern society.
Lonely Planet's offering is fairly modest, a few maps here and there, which will tell you where attractions are and so forth. You can sort through destinations by categories like shopping etc. And there is some information about various locations and sights that you can search through.
The attractive element about this feature is that you do not need to be online to use it, as it's a fairly compact package you can download it to your phone and use it offline. Yet it is dated and rather lazy compared to what else is on offer.
Google currently have the most impressive programme, which is hard to imagine anyone bettering. Google goggles is a fully interactive travel guide with an ever expanding database, the implications are quite staggering.
The app uses image recognition technology, so you can allow it to be your eyes as it processes through everything that you see.
For instance you can be standing in the middle of London and take a photograph aimed in any direction and then be told which way to the nearest places of interest, museums and so forth.  Anything within your view that holds significance or interest will be identified and you will get the according information.
From the image you shoot you can also find out where you are, it is able to tell from the photograph your location and can identify your current spot on the map.
It is also handy for restaurants. If you are in a country where you do not speak the language you can snap the text on the menu, and Google will come up with an accurate translation for you. Furthermore if you buy the Google translate app you can speak a sentence in to your phone, and in a clear, human-voice it will repeat the sentence in a language that you choose.
As for galleries you can take pictures of an artwork and receive all the information there is online about it. The beauty of Google goggles is that due to its features, it is forever expanding, perhaps the most expansive database ever published.
Other sources have been keen to create apps to market their services, for instance there are apps for a whole range of things, like booking restaurants or vacation rentals.

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This article was published on 2010/10/21