Features in mobile guides: images

Do you want images or not on a tourism guide? I remember when I was younger that my preferred guides (for a while) were the classical Touring Club guides published by the Italian Touring Club. I even traveled with one on my back-pack when I made a 1800 km solo tour of Sicily in ... hem 1976. The guide, an edition from 1930s!, was very useful and with the maps for most of the cities it helped me a lot to get around. I didn't need any hotel or restaurant suggestions: my budget was 200.000 lira (approximately 1,000 euros today) for 2 months travel including train transfers from Naples to Messina and, on the way back, from Reggio Calabria to Rome. So any hotel was out of reach. The only time I spent something to stay overnight was in Palermo, where I stayed in a camping. And I lived with sandwiches and fruit. The absolute lack of hotel and restaurant information of these guides didn't bother me at all.

The other aspect of these guides was that they didn't have images. No drawings, no photos, nothing. I liked that because I wanted to be surprised by what I was going to see and eventually shoot my own photos with a point and shoot camera. Note that newer editions of the guides do include drawings.

Current trends
Today 's guides are packed with images, mostly photos. These are used to help the traveler to decide what is worth for him to visit, to find the attraction and to look at the images afterwards, so you don't need to shoot photos ...but everybody does it anyway. In paper guides images add to the cost of production as well as to the weight of the guide (which also has an impact on environmental footprint).
With e-books and especially smartphone apps the trend to use images gets even stronger. Cost of production of images has gone down: many guides use freely available images from wikimedia, flickr or other image banks. The weight of images still counts, but in other ways: smartphone and tablet apps may use more or less storage on a phone. On average mobile guides have an average footprint of 20 to 300 MB, depending on the features they offer and the data (images, audio, video, maps) embarked.

The following screenshots show how separate mobile guides are using and presenting image.

mTrip - Chapter Image
mTrip - Photo Magnifier

GPSmyCity - Chapter Image
Tripwolf - Chapter Image
Pocket-Guide - Image Magnifier

Pocket-Guide - Chapter Image
Except for Tripwolf and GPSmyCity (in their current versions) the basic patter in image presentation is similar: a chapter image and a magnifier. In the case of mTrip the chapter image is smaller to give space to other features offered by the app. Otherwise the apps try to be generous with the image size. There is still one mobile guide that still offers very few images: Audioguidia. Their guides use images only in their index, otherwise they rely on the content (including images) provided by wikipedia, which these guides access on the Internet.

AudioGuidia - Guide Index

The time of image-deprived guides is long gone, especially Mobile guides need to offer good quality images (photos and, when needed, drawings) in order to improve on the experience of today's users. Image magnifiers are also a must.

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