National Park App Maker Back With Better, Free Offer

national parkLast year, in celebration of National Park Week, Chimani Apps gave away their suite of National Park apps. Normally, the apps sell for between $4.99-$9.99 each with an average rating of 4 1/2 stars, but the company gave away one million downloads. Now, Chimani is back with five new national park apps that feature an augmented reality viewer, crowd-sourced maps and a social sharing tool enabled with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. Better yet, they are all free.

“Chimani users are now able to actively contribute to the national park community and help build better geo-spatial data for each of the parks,” said Kerry Gallivan CEO/Co-Founder in a NationalParksOnline article.

The company is releasing a new app on each of the five days of National Park Week. New parks added are Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Bryce Canyon National Park. These, and all other Chimani apps, will be available for free starting Monday, April 22.

The apps have constantly updated maps, event schedules, points of interest, hiking details, as well as sunset and sunrise times for scenic overlooks. Users can access tide schedules along the coast, review lodging options and more on the apps, all designed to work without a cellphone signal.

We like that Chimani does not just throw their apps out there and hope for the best. Their users actively contribute to the national park community by helping build better geo-spatial data for each of the parks.

“A great example of this is Openstreetmaps.org’s user Tomthepom who spent the winter meticulously editing the park data within Grand Canyon. Thanks to Tom, the data found within the Chimani maps is the most detailed and up-to-date available anywhere – digital or print,” said Gallivan.

The Chimani apps are available for the iPhone, iPad, Amazon Kindle and Android devices. They can be downloaded directly from Apple’s iTunes App Store, Google Play and Amazon AppStore.


[Photo credit - Flickr user Dark_muse]

iPhone app review: ‘Spotted By Locals’ European city guides

spotted by localsOn a recent extended trip to Phnom Penh, I decided to bring along my trusty five-pound Southeast Asia on a Shoestring guide from Lonely Planet. Big mistake. In a city changing as quickly as Cambodia‘s capital, I found that nearly all of the information had become dated and irrelevant. Nearly half of the recommended restaurants had gone out of business, and the budget guesthouses, experiencing the “Lonely Planet effect“, were now half as nice, twice as expensive, and filled with people who, well, kinda sucked.

Spotted By Locals aims to be a different kind of travel guide by providing up-to-date travel advice from urban residents through blogs, PDF city guides, and a newly redesigned iPhone app. After road-testing the app, I’d say they’re well on their way.

The Spotted By Locals app is, to put it simply, awesome. Launched in December, the mobile application is 100 percent off-line, which means you don’t need to go bankrupt with data roaming or search endlessly for WiFi hotspots in order to access its wealth of information. And wealth it is. Since the app is currently only available for select European cities, I downloaded the Paris guide, clicked on the map, zoomed into my old street in the Marais, clicked on some of the map markers, and was able to access insider information written by residents about my two favorite vintage shops (Free ‘P’ Star and Vintage Desir, if you must know).


Spotted’s strength lies in its roster of local bloggers, who live in the cities they represent, speak the local language, and volunteer their services for free. The locals are hand-picked by owners Sanne and Bart van Poll, avid travelers based in Amsterdam. Plus, since the locals are active residents of their cities, they’re able to keep the guides’ information current and provide updates nearly in real-time, so you can stay ahead of the Lonely Planet pack.

[images via Spotted By Locals]

NORAD tracking Santa on your iPad and smartphone

Norad is tracking Santa again this yearAs it has done every year for the past 56 years, NORAD is once again tracking Santa this holiday season. But for Christmas 2011, the military organization that watches the skies above North America, has added the ability to follow St. Nick’s progress on your iPhone, iPad, and Android devices as well.

The satellite tracking went live earlier today and has been following Santa’s sled as he’s made his annual rounds through the timezones where it is already Christmas Eve night. Even now, he is delivering presents to homes on the other side of the planet and spreading holiday cheer where ever he goes. You’ll be able to check in on his progress throughout the day today, and watch in anticipation as he nears your neighborhood as well.

Of course, many of us have full days of shopping ahead, not to mention gatherings with friends and families to attend, so we won’t always be close to our computers to track Santa ourselves. But never fear, as NORAD has released the NORAD Tracks Santa app, which is available in both the App Store for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, as well as the Android Market for the plethora of devices that run that mobile operating system. Through this app, you’ll not only be able to keep an eye on the Man in Red, you’ll also be able to play the amusing “Elf Toss” game too. If you’re old school, you can still track Santa in Google Earth too.

Be sure to add these apps to your device now. After all, you’ll definitely want to be home, and snugly tucked in your bed, when Santa comes to deliver your gifts tonight.


Blogger Jessica Marati

Introducing another new blogger at Gadling, Jessica Marati…

Where was your photo taken: This photo was taken on my family’s beach in the southern part of Guam, the tiny Pacific island territory where I grew up. It’s probably one of my favorite places on the face of the earth.

Where do you live now: I’m based in New York, but I’ve spent the last several months living in Phnom Penh, where I’ve been researching and writing about ethical fashion, sustainability, and travel.

Scariest airline flown: Laos Airlines, on a particularly memorable flight from Hanoi to Luang Prabang. I had been warned that their track record was less than perfect, so I was hyper-sensitive to every unfamiliar whirr and pressure dip. The landing was bumpy, but thankfully I’m still here.

Favorite city/country/place: Are four-way ties allowed? New York, Paris, Bali, and the aforementioned beach.

Most remote corner of the globe visited: Probably Carp Island, a private island in the Palau archipelago in Micronesia. One night, we were sitting on the dock when the sea started lighting up in brilliant blues and greens — my first encounter with bioluminescent plankton. All seven people staying on the island came out to watch. Combined with a star-filled sky, it was pure magic. Tierra del Fuego was pretty quiet too.

Favorite guidebook series: These days, I’m really digging my iPod Touch and the variety of travel tools available in the iTunes App store. Triposo offers free interactive city guides, World Nomads has great phrasebooks, and nothing beats TripAdvisor for the latest hotel and restaurant reviews. I also like to save travel articles, like the New York Times 36 Hours series, to my Instapaper for later reading. It’s allowed me to ditch the massive Lonely Planet budget guides I used to haul around.

Solo or group traveler? A little bit of both. I love taking trips to visit friends living abroad, because I get to experience the place with more context and better restaurant recommendations.

Favorite means of transportation: Hopping on the backs of motorbikes here in Cambodia used to terrify me, but now I’ve become quite used to it. Nothing beats weaving through oncoming traffic with the wind blowing through your hair.

Favorite foreign dish? Restaurant? My Roman grandmother makes the absolute best parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmesan). Beats any restaurant in Italy, or anywhere else for that matter.

Dream travel destination: Havana, Cuba. I think this might be the year!

Postagram app turns your Instagram photos into postcards

postagram instagram postcard app iphoneThe whole crew here at Gadling loves sending postcards. Heck, we love receiving them, too. Sadly, handwritten notes – including postcards – are nowhere near as popular as they used to be. Why send a postcard from the road when you can instantly Skype or IM with someone? Why send one stock photo when you can upload all of your own pictures? The answer to both questions is the same: sending someone a personalized, analog message shows that in that moment, at that place, you were thinking of them and wanted to put some effort into showing them just that. Thankfully, there’s a new iPhone app that combines the thoughtfulness of postcards with modern social networking. Postagram allows iPhone users to turn pictures from the Instagram app into real postcards.Our friends over at TechCrunch shared the info on Postagram earlier today. For just 99 cents, users can turn any one of their Instagram photos into a postcard, add a 140-character message and have it printed and in the recipient’s hand in 2-5 business days (longer for international shipping). Users can do everything from the Postagram iPhone app or on the Postagram website. The picture can even be popped out of the postcard if the recipient just wants the image without the message.

We think this is a great tool for sending postcards to friends, especially if you’re in a location where finding a post office is challenging. And the price is cheaper than the cost of buying a postcard and a stamp in many places.

Certainly there are downsides. The 140-character limit means that you can’t write much of a note to accompany the picture. Also, while it does save the addresses that you enter to mail Postagrams, we’d love to see it access your iPhone’s contacts to make selecting recipients and inputting their addresses that much quicker and easier. Lastly, since it won’t be mailed from your location, it lacks the mystique of postmarks from faraway lands.

That said, it’s still a unique image that you took and chose to share with someone. In that sense, it still maintains the personal feel of postcards.

Anyone who signs up today will receive their first Postagram for free, which is a nice way to try out the app and service. I just made my first Postagram (for free, since I signed up today) and it was quick and easy. Oddly, while their site says that the Postagram will arrive in 2-5 days, the app itself said that it would take 3-7 days. That’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Postagram is free and available on the iPhone App Store.

[Via TechCrunch]