Mobile City Guides Reviews: mTrip

mTrip is a Canadian firm based in Montreal, established in 2009. Since its inception the company has focused on developing travel guides for mobile phone, obviously smartphones.

The company developed almost 30 guides translated in seven languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese). Over half of the guides refer to European cities.

The guides are sold at 4.99€. According to an article published by Techcrunch France in Mai, the mTrip guides had been downloaded 800.000 times since July 2010.

We reviewed version 1.5 of the mTrip app on the iPhone 4.

Design and ergonomics

Overall design and ergonomics of mTrip is excellent. The visual organization of functionalities, the use of colors, the placement of buttons, etc. are in general well done so much that the user is able to learn how to make use of this quite complex app. All technological marvels are in place.



The splash screen, shown above, has a modern and clean design and announces green as the dominant color of the app.You are then greeted by a page in which you are being asked about your trip dates. You enter the dates and then go back to the welcome page.





Then mTrip asks you to indicate your accommodation (hotel) and if you don't have one you may choose one from the list that is provided or add a hotel that is not listed. If you are not staying in a hotel or do not wish to tell the app where you are staying, then you just click on the "No accommodation yet" button and the system will consider that you will strat your tours from the center of the city. The location is important for the system to be able to automatically create your tours as we will discover later.




Once you have indicated your location (or starting point of your tours), you can choose to either create your own itinerary manually or ask mTrip to create one for you. The personalized itinerary will be calculated on the bases of several choices which will allow the user to tell what interest him and how long does he or she take to visit a particular sight. You can also ask mTrip to choose traditional or alternative attractions and your own favorite ones.





The app will then produce an itinerary for the number of days you are in the city divided between morning and afternoon sessions. You can view your itinerary either in the form of a list or on a map or, even, when you flip your iPhone horizontally view the photos of the attractions that are on the itinerary and access the content from them.




A lot of info is immediately visible on the list view: how long it takes to go from one attraction to another, the directions on how to get there and the rating by other users.

The system allows you to modify the itinerary and add or delete attractions, by pushing on the "Edit" button. You can also change the sequence of the attractions on the itinerary by simply moving their boxes up or down. Everything is pretty intuitive here.


You can also increase the size of the photo and view other photos that are included for a specific attraction.



When you view a particular attraction you can add it or delete from the itinerary, mark or un-mark it as a favorite, localize the attraction on the map, read and view directions on how to get there, and send a postcard with the photo. If you are registered user you can rate the particular attraction, add some comments or info or even your photos. The main attraction page will also tell you how far you are from there.



The description is very short (a little too short for me), but will include a link to a wikipedia article that is embedded in the app (without images or external links). Users can also update the "detail" section which includes practical info, such as opening times, admission fees, etc. on a specific attraction.


Directions

mTrip has one of the best navigation tools that are available on travel apps. The system dynamically calculates directions from one spot to the other, in whichever order you put them, and will even include (at least for Paris) the use of the metro. Bravo!


Of course the system will also direct you from your current location to a specific attraction. Another feature that is offered by mTrip is the view on Augmented Reality. This functionality will open the camera on the phone and when you point it to a specific monument or place the app will show icons of objects that described in the guide.


On the map you can also decide to view other points of interest (POI), such as restaurants, parkings, hotels etc. Just click on what you want the app to show and you will find it on the map. While the implementation is pretty good, we still are not really conviced by the technology itself.



Social & personalization

Another area in which mTrip has grown pretty strong is the social sharing approach. The traveler can show their own itinerary, with photos and notes and share them over the web or mobile platforms via email, facebook or twitter. All your photos taken with the iPhone will be geolocated and you or your friends can then view them on a map along with the description of the attractions and other POIs on the itinerary along with your notes and ratings. The trip can also be packaged in a virtual album (trip journal) and printed.


A video on the app explains very well how to use the functionality.

Content

As we mentioned above, the original content of the app is almost non existent: mTrip limits itself to a very short description of the attractions and provides a link to a wikipedia article or comments by other users.

Other features

It is important to notice that users can download the app from home or on any Wi-Fi network and then use for their visit without being connected, which is good if you want to avoid expensive roaming charges. You will also be able to use the map to move around in the city.


Conclusion

We find mTrip a very advanced travel and trip planning tool (excluding actual booking of transportation and other services). It is a good companion to the city and its flexibility is quite astonishing. Unfortunately mTrip doesn't offer original content and wikipedia is not always a good substitute of a knowledgeable guide.

For more information: www.mtrip.com