I have recently traveling in Italy and Southern France but before I left I wanted to see what travel books I should take with me. Back in the day of gap-year backpacking Lonely Planet was my source of all travel knowledge. So obviously thats where I started. I’m an e-book person, so the potential travel books needed to fit nicely in my iPad mini, but obviously utilising the interaction capabilities of the iPad would even be better! So would it be app or e-book? After looking though the Lonely Planet ebooks of Italy and France I realised that the non-interactive maps would kill me. The thing has GPS and a compass, so why not use it? I don’t mind using my Scout taught cartography skills when needed, but having a little ‘you are here’ arrow just makes sense when you are on the move. So an app it was!
Looking though the App store I started to get worried. There where so many options with little explanation about the differences. (I have ranted about how the App Store makes choosing apps difficult before, so I won’t start now). I thought I would download a few and work with them. I also have an Android phone so I could look in the Playstore too, but preferably I would like to get an app that will sync across my phone and iPad.
I eventually settled on the well known Tripadvisor (and Tripadvisor City Guides Catalog) and a newer kid on the block; Triposo. I thought I might use both of them, but I kept going back to Triposo. It does everything that Tripadvisor does but it just felt more friendly and it does not try and sell me accommodation all the time. Also the Tripadvisor City Guides where very extremely limited and I was travelling off the beaten track in some areas. Triposo had every city I visited, down to the smallest Italian county town. The final blow for Tripadvisor City Guides was the lack of an actual iPad app. Using an iPhone app on a iPad is not something I do without grimace. Triposo became my new Lonely Planet. It had great history about areas (mainly form Wikipedia), decent offline maps and all the places of interest. I did not use it to find restaurants because most of the places I liked to eat at are not registered on any websites, hidden away in the alleyways of the old cities.
The one downside to having an Android phone and an iPad with Triposo, is that clearly there are two different teams in charge of each app. The apps looked similar and worked in the same way on the service, but as soon I started really delving into the depths of the apps, I found that they just felt different. There where clearly some features missing on the Android app and I only figured that out after days of trying to do what I had just done on the iPad. For example, adding a personal point of interest was as easy as long tapping on the iPad app but it’s not available on the Android app. This only became apparent when all the personal places that I added on the iPad did not sync across to my phone and I had to email them. But even with the few issues that they face it still made my trip educational, easy and enjoyable.
There are a few things that could be done better or missing features, like being able to add a place that you think other people will enjoy, but all in all the app was a brilliant travel guide. It’s still clearly still being developed and the developers (or rather the support staff) answer emails quickly with decent support. They understand what needs to be done and where they need to focus and hopefully they get even better for my next trip.
– Great offline maps
– Directions from your location to searched points of interest
– Content on so many towns and cities
– iPad, iPhone and Android apps that (almost) sync everything
– Adding a private place of interest to your map (only on iOS)
– Web site access to your account for more functionality (Not sure if this should be a Pro or a Con as this functionality really should be available on the app)
– Can’t search for road names on offline maps
– Adding a publicly visible place of interest is only possible on the website (This is annoying because I want to add to the community and I only remember when standing next the place I want to add)
– Adding a private place of interest to you map not available on Android
– There is no time or distance for the search directions on the map