Tagwhat Geotag App Like A Personal Tour Guide

Geotag apps are coming out of development at a frenzied pace these days as developers rush to use new technology in one way or another. Not long ago, we tested HipGeo, which takes tagged photos, as well as pin drops we make on the road, to block in a storyline of our adventures. Now Tagwhat, the app that hopes to be the mobile tour guide for the world, has upped its game, automatically dragging in digital content from the web.

Simply engaging the app at any given location pulls relevant wiki information about attractions and features of the area where users happen to be. The idea sounds relatively simple but the technology used to make it happen is rather complex. Testing the Tagwhat app, I brought up historic locations that I had never heard of before, along with in-depth information within a few miles of my home in Orlando. First thought: this is a great app for a quick weekend road trip.

But looking deeper into the Tagwhat application, developers have created two tools that enable their advanced geotagging functionality. Like a Pinterest button for location, the “Tag it” button is a Web browser “bookmarklet” that allows users to quickly select content on any Web page in a single click and direct it to any spot on a map.

The Tagwhat Publishing Dashboard lets users upload their own digital content to real-world places and manage what they have created. Content uploaded with the new publishing tools is added to Tagwhat’s database of more than 800,000 tags, or multimedia stories, globally.

“The web has billions of pages of Web content. But the problem was that there was no way to deliver the content to real-world settings, where the information would be most meaningful,” Dave Elchoness, founder and CEO of Tagwhat told Gadling. “Rather than typing in a search and hoping for the best, location-aware mobile devices now give us new way to search for and discover web content based on a user’s location and their interests.”

Indeed, the app has different “channels” to select, bringing a customized array of information, based on the users location. Users can choose from Wikipedia, Movies, Sports, Nature, Science and Tech, Offbeat, Events, Art, Heritage, Architecture, Food, Music and/or Books. Right now, I have all channels turned on but get only Wiki info. Later, as more users join and tag their information, Tagwhat promises to bring me deeper content, like being on a tour with a local who knows all the great spots. For example, say someone from Gadling tagged all the posts here. Gadling bloggers travel around the world to bring content about a variety of places, people and events. If I were in London with the Tagwhat app engaged, the content presented would include Gadling blogger Sean McLachlin’s post “Roman Cavalry Helmet To Be Star Attraction At Royal Academy Exhibition” and Jessica Festa’s “10 Stunning And Iconic Shots Of London” if I had selected the channels in Tagwhat where those posts appeared.

Say I did not care anything about those topics; with only “Sports” selected, I would see “Facts By The Numbers For The 2012 Olympic Games In London” and any sports related posts that had something to do with the London area.

On the move, the content changes to correspond with the user’s location too. I checked the content within a few miles of my home in Orlando then went for a drive. Arriving at the first location that I found interesting, a historic monument from the civil war, I checked again and a new list of attractions appeared, geared for where I was at that time.

Without sourcing any other content from the web other than wiki information, this app is a must-have for traveling to an unfamiliar destination. Tagwhat also adds value to a short trip in your own backyard.

This latest release of Tagwhat also has a push notifications feature that proactively notifies users about interesting stories nearby, even when the app is not open on their smartphone.

Tagwhat is available for iOS and Android.

Image courtesy Tagwhat

Collect And Share Travel Experiences With AFAR

Pinterest became the hottest social network this year, with millions using the site to collect and search for recipes, design ideas and inspirational quotes. Many travelers have used Pinterest for planning and sharing trips, tips and destinations (you can find Gadling here). Now Afar.com, the website and community behind AFAR magazine, has introduced a new feature to curate travel experiences, chronicle favorite destinations and discover new places in a way that’s Pinterest-like in ease of use and appealing interface but designed just for travelers.

“Wanderlists” are part of AFAR’s collaborative travel guide, comprised of a collection of travel “Highlights,” similar to an inspiration board. Users can create a Highlight incorporating a photo and description of a place or experience, adding contact information and location tags to make it easier for other travelers to find. A Highlight might be a moment in a field of Irish wildflowers, a favorite breakfast spot in Istanbul, or a Victorian town in New Zealand. Highlights are integrated with Google Maps for easy reference, and can be shared over Twitter, Facebook, or email (you can even pin to Pinterest too). If you feel more like gathering ideas than sharing your own, you can search for any destination or topic like food or surfing.

Currently, Highlights and Wanderlists are all user-generated, but will soon include magazine content as well. You can get inspired by collections from the AFAR team like American road trip pit stops, markets around the world, or favorite spots in Cairo.

Create your own Wanderlists and search for Highlights at Afar.com.

Pinterest for travelers: 5 practical uses

Everyone’s jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon, and no wonder. The social media site, where you “pin” inspiring photos of luscious baked goods, bucket-list world landmarks and HDR-enhanced sunsets, provides perfect travel porn. Once you start browsing other peoples’ boards, it’s almost impossible to stop.

But does Pinterest have any practical uses for travelers? Although it seems mostly geared toward of the armchair set, there are a few ways that people planning vacations can get something substantial out of scrapbooking:

Get ideas. The most obvious way to use Pinterest is still the most practical. Already you can find thousands of gorgeous travel photos on Pinterest, not only from regular users, but from noted brands such as The Travel Channel (and yes, Gadling). As more travel companies and destinations flock to the site, the visual resources that are available to people planning vacations will become richer.

Just look at the Visit Savannah boards. Run by the city’s destination marketing organization, some of Savannah’s pins carry practical information, such as the best things to order at local restaurants and specialty shopping. And the I Do board makes you want to redo your nuptials in front of the city’s Spanish oaks. It’s a perfect fit for Pinterest’s wedding-crazed members.

Crowdsource. Most people use Pinterest to put forth their own vision of what a vacation could be. But let’s say you’re taking your first trip to Paris. You could create a Paris board and invite your most Francophile friends to pin their recommendations too. It’s a much more visual way than asking for tips on Facebook.
Coordinate expectations. Planning trips with friends can be tough, particularly if you span income brackets. So the next time you’re putting together a group trip, create a Pinterest board where everyone can contribute.

You’ll spot quickly where problems could occur. Let’s say one person pins a Michelin-starred restaurant, while the other pins a taco stand. That could open up discussion about budget limitations, and what kind of meals you’ll be eating. Likewise, you’ll want to make sure that the friend pinning serious powder for a ski vacation meshes with the friend posting spa treatments. Use the photos to form an itinerary that appeals to everyone.

Buy gear. Pinterest’s Products boards have become the most controversial, after users discovered that the site was embedding affiliate links into pins. The Gifts section, where prices are displayed on the pin, is divided into dollar amounts now. But like most social networking sites, Pinterest is continually evolving – and category breakdowns are sure to emerge.

Sharing vacation photos. Facebook has become the web’s largest photo sharing site, with billions of pictures. In fact, people post so many photos on Facebook that almost nothing surprises anymore. While Pinterest, which celebrates the pretty, will probably not become the place to post family reunion photos, a vacation board is a great place to share your best envy-inducing shots.

Travel writer Chris Gray Faust is using Pinterest to help plan her sister’s destination wedding. Follow her boards.