THE GEAR • January 2018
The Club’s tech writer, Derek Adams, has been swiping his way through the latest tour guide apps. Here he tells us which ones will make you feel as though you’re on location with a local
Whether you’re an intrepid traveller-cum-blogger or just someone who wishes to keep friends and relatives in the loop, consider downloading Esplorio (iOS only, free), an excellent Facebook-linked social networking app that displays your route on a map, images you’ve taken and any self-written descriptions – for every location you’ve visited. It doesn’t require roaming data to record journeys, so you can travel without having to worry about incurring extra charges, while also allowing users to send their featured photos as physical postcards to anywhere in the world.
BA customers can use the promo code “BACLUB” to get a 30% discount on any postcards they send using Esplorio.
Guides by Lonely Planet (Android and iOS, free) is a beautiful app covering more than 175 cities, including less common destinations such as Darjeeling, Hilo and Phnom Penh. As with most travel guides, you’re advised to download the city entry and its offline map before departing, especially if visiting a country with high data-roaming charges. On launching the app, tap one of the ‘Curated Collection’ tabs and pick from suggestions replete with well-informed descriptions, address details, admission info and transport links. If you like short city breaks, this app is for you.
Trover (iOS and Android, free) is an Instagram-style online travel app that allows tourists to post images and short reviews, be it of a specific sight, great restaurant or an amazing view. On arrival at your destination, launch the app and the phone’s screen fills with images taken within easy reach of your position – a boon for those who don’t wish to pore over reams of text.
With 10 million downloads and counting, Triposo (iOS and Android, free) is a hugely popular travel app that gathers information from online sources such as Wikipedia, Open Street Map and Flickr. Before setting off, search for your destination and download the relevant info – sights, activities, restaurants and tours – for offline use at your location. The interface is colourful and easily navigable, although, despite the diverse subject matter – the app covers more than 50,000 destinations – there is a small number of omissions.
Foursquare City Guide (Android and iOS, free) is a community-led travel tipper, similar in concept to Trip Advisor. However, it’s more practical to use simply because its content is focused more on food, drink and entertainment and less on tourist sights, guided tours and hotels. Of course, whether you can completely trust the disparate nature of user-generated ratings and reviews is a moot point. Nevertheless, despite the rudimentary interface, Foursquare remains one of the most reliable travel-related apps.
Created by Groupon founder Andrew Mason, Detour (iOS and Android, in-app purchases) is a geolocation city guide that specialises in idiosyncratic audio tours provided by local experts and celebrities. Just select the tour of your choice (£7.49 each), follow the narrator’s directions, open your eyes and absorb the facts. It’s an amazingly discreet system that knows exactly where you are, even with your phone in the pocket. Detour lists only 18 cities, but you can be sure there are more on the way.