Tagwhat Geotag App Like A Personal Tour Guide

geotag appGeotag 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

Gadling Gear Review: Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Wireless Memory Card

The Eye-Fi SD memory card adds wifi features to any cameraOne of the features that has been appearing on new camera models with increased frequency is built-in Wi-Fi functionality. Wireless capabilities on the camera allows users to sync with their computer and upload images to Flickr, Facebook or other photo sharing services without ever using a cable. It is incredibly convenient and fun, particularly for travelers who may want to share photos from their adventures while on the road. But did you know that you could add Wi-Fi capabilities to any camera? The Eye-Fi series of memory cards can actually turn even your old digital shooter into a high-tech, wireless wonder, giving you the same capabilities as newer cameras without forking out a lot of money for a new device.

We first took a look at the Eye-Fi two years ago when the cards were still relatively new. Much has changed since then as technology has continued to evolve, but a lot has also stayed the same. At the time we were impressed with how easy the Eye-Fi was to set up and use, and once configured it worked as advertised, automatically uploading photos, geotagging locations and sharing images on Facebook and other sites. I’m happy to say all of that has remained the same and the memory card is still a breeze to get working. The included Eye-Fi Center software takes all of the guesswork out of configuring the card and you’ll have Wi-Fi working on your camera in a matter of minutes. It’s so easy in fact that you’ll probably be surprised at how simple it is.

Since that initial review, the Eye-Fi memory card has learned a few new tricks that make it an even better travel companion. For example, new apps for both iOS and Android devices makes it possible for your camera to wirelessly transfer images to your iPhone, iPad or other tablet. This is great for photographers in the field as it allows them to back up their images to another device or clear space off the card by transferring the files. By utilizing the Eye-Fi in this way, a relatively small 4 or 8GB memory card can be used to take a lot more photos than its size would imply.Transferring the files is quick and easy, and it is great to review your shots from throughout the day on a much larger screen. The images are added to your device’s main photo app, which means they are available system wide. That makes it a breeze to share them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or just about any other social network. It also means that if you use an app like iPhoto or Photoshop Express you’ll be able to edit your shots on the go. That is something professional photographers will absolutely love and amateur shutterbugs will appreciate too.

The Eye-Fi memory cardSyncing with other devices isn’t the only new feature for the Eye-Fi. Since we first took a look at the tiny device a few years back, it has also gained the ability to sync to the cloud. That means that when connected to a wireless network the images are also automatically backed up to the Eye-Fi website and can be accessed there for up to seven days. An Eye-Fi premium account, which costs $50 per year, gives users unlimited access beyond that initial week, but even if you simply use the free account, it’s good to know that you have a “just in case” backup, even if it is for a limited time.

The Eye-Fi card line-up has been simplified and made more affordable over the past two years as well. There are now just three options to choose from with the entry-level “Connect X2” model offering 4GB of storage while the “Mobile X2” has 8GB. Those cards cost $39.99 and $79.99 respectively. The “Pro X2” model also has 8GB of memory but includes the ability to geotag images and upload professional level RAW files, a format that most amateur photographers don’t use. It carries a price tag of $99.99.

If you find you love your current camera but wish it had the ability to share images more easily, then the Eye-Fi is definitely a great option. Not only do each of the models provide plenty of storage, but they also add Wi-Fi capabilities to any device. Considering how much we enjoy sharing our photos these days, I think that is functionality that a lot of travelers will be interested in. The Eye-Fi was already simple to configure and worked great; Android and iOS compatibility is simply icing on the cake – icing that gadget-loving travelers will certainly benefit from.


iPhone Travel Apps Ranked By Actual Usage

iphone travel appsiPhone Travel apps have been coming at us rapidly for quite some time now. Everyone seems to have their favorites, based on a variety of factors. Some iPhone travel apps are easy to use, quick to load and produce good results. Others, not so much. Knowing which one is most effective can be difficult but a new infographic takes a stab at sorting it all out.

Onavo is a data compression tech company that helps iPhone users get more from their data plan. How apps load and run is a topic they know all about. To feed this infographic, Onavo ranked travel search and booking apps by the percentage of U.S. iPhone users who activated them at least once during June 2012.

Onavo generated these infographic statistics using a sample of 100,000 U.S. iPhone users of their free iOS data-saving app that helps avoid overage fees.

“Acting as a proxy server, the Onavo Extend iOS version compresses data sent to your device from apps and websites, which means less bandwidth consumption,” reports Toonz.

[Flickr photo by mastrobiggo]

Gadling Gear Review: iZon Remote Room Monitor

The iZon Remote Room MonitorHave you ever been away from home and wished that you had the ability to look in just to see what was happening back at the domicile? If so, then Stem Innovation has a product that may be of interest to you. Whether you’re in the room next door or halfway around the world, Stem’s Izon Remote Room Monitor is a simple, inexpensive way to monitor what is happening around your house.

At its core the iZon is essentially an always-on wireless webcam that is configured and controlled by an iPhone and iPad app. The unit is small and inconspicuous and once configured it only needs power to stay active. The camera’s built-in base allows it to be swiveled to just the right angle, while a single green LED light indicates that it is in operation.

The initial set-up of the iZon is fairly straightforward provided you follow the included instructions. That process begins by downloading the Stem:Connect app and installing it on your iOS device. From there, users create a Stem account, which is used to log in to the app and register your devices. Stem:Connect actually allows you to control multiple cameras and the personal account helps to keep track of each of them individually. Those different cameras can also be assigned unique names, such as “Bedroom” or “Office,” which makes it easier to differentiate them from within the app itself.

After installing Stem:Connect and creating a personal account, you’ll next need to connect the camera to your wireless network. That is also accomplished through the app, which gives you the ability to select your Wi-Fi network and type in the password needed to join. Once that process is complete, the iZon will restart itself and begin broadcasting video and sound.Once the configuration process is complete the app serves as the monitor as well, allowing users to see whatever the iZon sees. Logging into Stem:Connect gives you the option to select the camera you want to view and then begins streaming video directly from that device. The quality of the video is average at best and isn’t likely to wow you, although it does serve its purpose just fine. The images are definitely improved in well-lit environments and on faster network connections, just don’t expect high definition quality.

Besides simply broadcasting live video, the iZon has a few other tricks up its sleeve as well. For example, you can configure it to send you an alert when unexpected motion or sounds occur on camera. This is handy when you are using the device to monitor a baby’s room, for instance, and you want to know when the child has stirred. Stem has also given the iZon the ability to upload video directly to a YouTube account making it a breeze to capture and share some of the best moments you see on the cam. These options add versatility to a device that already provides quite a bit of functionality for its $129.95 suggested retail price.

The iZone certainly is an affordable option for those looking for a video monitoring system for their home or office but it doesn’t come without compromise. As mentioned, the video quality isn’t particularly outstanding and there is a pronounced lag between what happens in front of the camera and what is displayed on the screen. Even using it on my fast home network, I often experienced a delay of 30 seconds or more between when something actually occurred and when it appeared on my iPad. That delay is worse when you shift to a remote Wi-Fi network or are using a 3G or 4G connection.

Connecting from those remote networks can be a challenge too. The iZon is designed to be plug-and-play, and while it was easy to configure the device and get it working on my personal Wi-Fi network, I had issues being able to connect to the camera while I was away from home. What good is a remote monitoring system if you can only use it while you’re actually at home? Fortunately, I was able to resolve the issue by opening the proper ports on my wireless router, so a rudimentary knowledge of networking can help make the process easier. To their credit, Stem Innovation has released regular updates to both the device’s firmware and the Stem:Connect app, which have helped alleviate some of the challenges of getting the camera working. Just be prepared to dig in a bit deeper if the iZon doesn’t function as expected out of the box.

In terms of an inexpensive and easy to configure remote room monitoring system, it is hard to beat the iZon. It is small, works well with an iPhone or iPad and has a low cost of entry. If you can live with the compromises in video quality and broadcast lag, this is probably the best way to monitor what is taking place around the home without breaking the bank.


Ritz-Carlton Launches iPhone App

Ritz-Carlton iphone appAfter a long wait, Ritz-Carlton is launching their first mobile app today. This free app will allow travelers to travelers to book and search online, but will also offer a series of unique tips and QR code experience tours that let them experience properties before they even arrive.

Some of our favorite functionalities of the new app include the “Presidential Tips” section, a specially-curated selection of tips from Herve Humler, company president and COO.

To learn Presidential Tips, guests use the app to scan a QR code at the time of check-in.

The code-based experience tours also add something new to the mix, with 20 hotels starring in the pilot program. For example, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, where guests can participate in a Cultural Art tour led by QR codes that will allow them to learn more about the hotel’s art collection. At The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, where young guests will be able to enjoy a digital scavenger hunt, led exclusively by QR codes and clues at each stop.

GPS technology also allows the application to recognize when a guest has arrived at a Ritz-Carlton and can provide location specific advice, information and exclusive offers. The app also integrates the hotel’s concierge recommendations from Four Square, updated weekly, as well as allow access to hotel and resort activity calendars so that guests can always know what’s going on at area properties via “Push” notifications.

The free app is available on both Apple and Android platforms.