When It Comes To Travel Apps, Value Is In The Eye Of The User

travel appsIn a continuing quest to find travel apps that actually do something unique and are worth the time to load and learn, we head in a different direction today.

About this time last year, we introduced HipGeo, a free iPhone and iPad app that passively records our location as we travel, then mashes photos and comments made along the way into an animated map and travel diary for sharing. I tested the HipGeo app on a cruise through Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France over the summer with Azamara Club Cruises and found the app to be quite accurate. HipGeo nailed the trip, right down to our outbound flight from Newark to Edinburgh that taxied to and from the runway a number of times before taking off 18 hours later.

At the time, HipGeo’s chief product guy, Rich Rygg told CNET “If Tumblr and Foursquare had a baby, it would look like the new HipGeo.” I found that to be an accurate claim, used HipGeo on a couple other trips and that was that.

New to the scene, LiveTrekker is what looks at first glance to be a travel app similar to HipGeo. LiveTrekker came promoted as “the perfect application to capture, share and relive your journey to family and friends,” in a press release. I thought of all the time it took to learn HipGeo and was about to dismiss LiveTrekker as one of the same when one feature caught my eye.The press release went on to say LiveTrekker has the capability of capturing what we see and experience on a trip in “exact geographical context with unparalleled detail.” Now this was something new.

Rather than simply taking the existing technology, repackaging it and performing the same function as HipGeo and other travel apps already on the market, LiveTrekker has some unique features worth a look.

travel appsAvailable for iPhone and Android smart phones, LiveTrekker lets travelers capture, share (in real-time or not) and relive their journey. Unique to LiveTrekker, and possibly worth the switch from competitors, is the app’s ability to note what direction the camera was pointed when taking a photo, enabling it to draw on rich resources for great detail in what it displays.

Other unique features include the ability to choose between satellite, map or Google Street view on playback. A live, working relationship with the LiveTrekker website complements the app with rich resources. The ability to search, relive, edit and share our best experiences at will makes LifeTrekker an interactive online travel diary that we can do something with too.

Say I have a friend who is totally into castles. On our Scotland trip, we ran across a good number of them but HipGeo gave me no way to send just that part of the recorded journey. LifeTrekker does.

Is LiveTrekker an app that actually does something different? It appears to be. Still, as with all travel apps, the value to the individual user comes from its speed, accuracy and ability to perform a function that adds to our travel experience.

My friend who physically writes in a hardbound travel journal would have no use for this, nor would a number of others I know who simply won’t take the time to learn how to use it.

What about you?

Do you have travel apps you just can’t do without? Or if given the chance, would you rather just leave your smartphone at home? Tell us here with a comment.

Want to know more about LiveTrekker? Check this video:


[Photo credit- Flickr user csaila]

Renaissance Hotels releases Navigator App

I like Renaissance Hotels. Although I tend to stay away from big hotel chains, I like Renaissance because it’s a boutique line and every hotel of theirs is different from the others. Another thing I like about Renaissance? They have Navigators in place of the traditional concierge.

Renaissance Navigators are, in short, employees who are locals and in the know. I once walked into the Renaissance Pere Marquette in New Orleans and picked the brain of a Navigator on staff. I liked his recommendations. As a point of reference, I own TheAntiTourist. I don’t like being shooed off in the direction of obvious tourist spots and this particular Navigator gave me a run for my money with his list of off-the-beaten-path things I might like to do.

Why is this useful information for you? Because Renaissance recently released the Navigator app. And it’s free for the taking for iPhone, iTouch, and iPad users until February 28th if you use the code ‘intheknow’ on iTunes. So look it up. Take it. See how you like it. And then let us know.