3 Game-Changing Travel Apps
Tour Trivia provides an informative brain challenge for getting to know a place.
CREDIT: Jad Meouchy/Tour Trivia
LAS VEGAS — The Consumer Electronics Show is dominated by PR and marketing execs rattling off the limited information they get about products such as TVs and laptops that were designed and made far away.
But just one-and-a-half miles from the convention center at the Venetian Hotel, teams of dressed-down coders at a "hackathon" event were building — in real time — new mobile apps to help people explore real life. After the eight-hour "MoDev Hackathon," sponsored by the Travel Channel, the programmers could describe exactly what they built, how they did it and how it could be better — all in a three-minute speech, as the competition required.
(As they were literally just written, the apps may take a few weeks or months to trickle into app stores and onto the Web. Many of the apps were created first for Windows 8 devices, since Microsoft was one of the companies giving out prizes.)
Given the sponsorship, the hackathon was dominated by travel-related apps. But the approaches the teams took were often very different. Here are three highlights.
Tour Trivia helps you find cool spots based on your interest in a topic. In one example, the creator showed a coffee quiz/itinerary. While answering questions about, say, the coffee-roasting process, the user wins points and gets tips about good coffee shops to visit. The app's aim is to make a place more real by presenting the factoids behind it. In his demo version for the hackathon, creator Jad Meouchy also proposed quizzes for the Vegas Strip, nearby Lake Mead and Las Vegas "Famous Homicides." A skeletal sample is already available as a Web page and mobile app. Meouchy expects to launch full versions for cities, beginning with Los Angeles, in the coming weeks.
Instagram photos from that place. In the process, the app also grabs the popular hashtags (key words) on the photos to show the kinds of topics and activities that are most popular there. Travel Social can do the same for other social networks, including Flickr, Twitter and Facebook Places.
Boots then provides a virtual preview of what you will see when you get "boots on the ground." You start by picking a location — say, Las Vegas Boulevard — on a map on the right side of the screen. On the left, you see a Google Street View of the location, which you can pan around just by moving your device. (It currently runs on Windows 8 tablets, but could come to other mobiles.) The creator said that, in the future, it could allow you to tag places on the street view (say, Caesar's Palace) to show friends where you plan to go and get their input.