Whoops: Glitch in Apple Maps Keeps Telling Drivers to Cross an Airport Runway

Bill Abbott, Flickr

Since the advent of GPS and the access to it on our smartphones, many of us have completely given up on doing any navigating ourselves. We set our destination, we press “route” and we sit back and do whatever the nice voice tells us to do. No matter where it takes us.

But a recent glitch in Apple maps might have you rethinking that kind of behavior. Fairbanks International Airport had to close an access route because not only one, but two people, were so blindly following directions that they followed a taxiway and crossed a runway before they realized what they were doing.

Apple has temporarily fixed the problem by having a “not available” message pop up for the route. The company has gotten a lot of flack for previous map issues, and after buying up several map applications, CEO Tim Cook has promised that Apple is “doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

While we can all get mad at our iPhones for not giving proper instructions, just because we have access to GPS we shouldn’t lose our common sense. Pay attention when you drive, and if you find yourself nearing an airport runway, consider making a U-turn.

Wearable Technology Looks Cool, But Will Travelers Actually Wear It?

Wearable technology - Dick Tracy watch
Flickr, LamdaChiAlpha

Imagine being able to navigate a foreign city without a map or paying for a museum ticket with your watch, thanks to your cool electronic gadgets. Now imagine getting mugged around the corner, or leaving your expensive toy on a bus. Wearable technology such as Google Glass and the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch have fueled a lot of buzz among technology fans and travel marketers, but will travelers actually want to wear them?

A survey of 1,000 adults showed that while 75% were aware of at least one form of wearable technology, less than 10% was actually interested in using it. While the Samsung smartwatch announcement increased interest, and 52% would wear something on their wrist, only 5% would wear something on their face like Google Glass.

High price tags — $299 For the Galaxy Gear, and over $1,000 for the developer glasses — are one cause for consumers to hesitate, though travelers are more likely to invest in the latest technology, especially if it helps document their trip or explore a new place. Privacy is another concern, as the devices collect information based on your movements to improve the experience. How about the fact that having such a device marks you as wealthy? Smartphones have become fairly commonplace in the world, but there are still places where you’d be wise to keep your iPhone in your pocket, or even the hotel safe. The newer and snazzier the device, the more it shows that you have money to burn, and might make you a target of thieves. Will they make you look like a tourist? Not necessarily more than any device, but they certainly won’t help you to blend in.

Would you use wearable technology, while traveling or at home? What innovations would you like to see for travel?

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]

George Orwell’s Birthplace To Become Monument To Gandhi

George OrwellGeorge Orwell’s birthplace in Motihari, Bihar, India, is being turned into a monument and park, but not to the famous English writer. Instead, Art Daily reports, the new park will be dedicated to independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

The ramshackle bungalow where Orwell was born in 1903 has long been the subject of discussion as to what to do with it. The local government said it would fix up the place in 2009 but nothing was done. A statue of George Orwell on the grounds has been damaged.

The move has drawn criticism from many Indians. The Hindustan Times reports that locals want the park dedicated to Orwell, saying it will draw foreign tourists to the area. Bihar is the poorest or second poorest state in India depending on what statistics you focus on.

Orwell, an outspoken socialist, frequently criticized the colonial system of which he was a part. His father was serving in the Indian Civil Service when he was born and Orwell himself served as a policeman in Burma. He later expressed his ambivalence towards British rule in Asia in essays such as “Shooting an Elephant” and the novel “Burmese Days.”

He also had mixed feelings towards Gandhi. He opens his essay “Reflections on Gandhi” with the line, “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent. . .” and went on to say Gandhi was ascetic to a fault and that “his medievalist program was obviously not viable in a backward, starving, over-populated country.” On the other hand, Orwell praises his integrity and courage. For a deep thinker like Orwell, there were no easy answers, no quick labels.

What do you think should be done with Orwell’s birthplace? Take the poll!

[Photo courtesy National Union of Journalists]

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Next Generation Travel Apps To Think, Do More

travel apps

It seems that there is no shortage of travel apps that do everything from guide us around an unfamiliar city to share our travel experience with others. In the beginning it was a rush-to-market situation that had travel app software developers working overtime, just to get a brand out there for us to try in one way or another. If that app did something unique, all the better. Now, after working with them a while, gathering user information and tweaking apps already in place, a new generation of travel apps seem to be a bit smarter, faster and more relevant.

In “Travel Apps That Actually Do Something,” we talked about apps that rely on existing data and don’t really do anything special. A variety of GPS-based apps, for example, take that same satellite signal and do different things with it. One uses it to give us driving directions, another to connect us with others in the area or find a restaurant, hotel or area attraction.

New generation travel apps, like Gogobot’s new Android app released this week, do more.Via their iPhone app, Gogobot’s social network of travelers have been able to search and book hotels, restaurants and things to do in thousands of destinations around the world.

The new Android version goes a step or two further, allowing the ability to search and book that hotel on the fly with filters for real-time hotel pricing and availability, user ratings, hotel class and social recommendation. Adding new, rich content and ability from OpenTable, Gogobot users can now search and select a table on the go too.

A smart integration of Google Street View for Android uses the phone’s compass to turn an Android device into a virtual window, with 360-degree views of Gogobot locations.

“With our new Android app, Gogobot has responded to the needs of avid travelers who are Android users with an experience uniquely tailored to maximize the device’s capabilities,” said Gogobot CEO and co-founder Travis Katz in a press release.

Not just adding an Android version of their iPhone app, Gogobot is addressing the future too. With mobile predicted to take over PC’s as the most common web access device as soon as 2014, as many as one billion users are expected.

“This means travelers will be accessing – and creating – an increasing amount of information via mobile apps,” added Katz, “both in real time and around such destinations and venues as restaurants, hotels, shops and sites.”

Want a first-look at Gogobot’s new Android app? See this video:



[Photo Credit- Flickr user mtsofan]