1. cjvitek's Avatar
    mTrip (London), by mTrip Travel Guides
    $5.99, ***1/2

    Pros:

    Timeline organized travel itinerary
    Great mapping options
    mTrip Genius helps you plan itinerary

    Cons:
    Confusing interface at time
    Routing options dont seem to be accurate all the time

    mTrip Travel Guides takes a different approach to helping plan your upcoming travel. Rather than simply give you a guide of the city, the mTrip Travel Guides allow you to plan a detailed itinerary, including transportation to and from your planned location, to and from your hotel. You can choose specific landmarks and attractions yourself, or use the mTrip Genius to help figure out suggestions (based on your interest in things like museums, monuments, parks, etc).

    I used the app when I travelled to London, and I have to say, it was very useful. Its one thing to plan an itinerary yourself, trying to figure when you want to go somewhere, how you will get there, and how long you will stay there. Its another thing to be able to simply have the app do it on its own. And I have to say, it did a reasonable job of helping to plan my itinerary.

    I used the manual entry option for the tourist attractions I wanted to see, but I let the app organize them based on geographic location to make the most sense (no point in crisscrossing over myself to see a few monuments!). The app planned a reasonable route (giving me options for walking travel or public transportation). In addition, the app include a brief summary of each of the places I wanted to visit just to make sure it was someplace I really wanted to go.

    Once I was at a location, I could look up nearly hotels, food restaurants, attractions, bars, and it would tell me how to get there from where I was (the mapping option was great one of the biggest benefits to the app!). In addition, the app itself had some of the more general information you would expect to find in a travel guide subway map, currency converter, general information about London, etc. There is even an augmented reality option if you really want to get detailed about your travels!
    With all its plusses, there were some concerns with the app. The interface seemed somewhat clunky at times. While I was able to navigate easily once I had played with the app for a little while, initially it was difficult to figure out some of the features when it came to planning an itinerary. In addition, the routes that it sometimes chose for me seemed somewhat confusing. While I am far from the expert, it seemed like I was backtracking and taking needless turns at times.

    There also wasnt any method to import locations or attractions. While the list included in the app was pretty extensive, there were some smaller locations (mostly comic book shops) that I wanted to visit. There is no way to add a location simply based on an address, or find a location simply based on the map. I would have liked to have seen these options to help refine and personalize my trip.

    The final concern I had was that the app didnt really let you decide how long to stay at an attraction. You can split your itinerary up based on morning/afternoon/evening, but you cant say how long you specifically want to stay at a given location. You could choosevisit intensity when using the trip genius option, but you couldnt adjust you individual attraction visit time. Along the same lines, there didnt seem to be an adjustment option skipping or moving part of an itinerary automatically if you want to stay longer at one attraction. Yes, you can reschedule manually, but I would have liked to have seen some automatic replanning.

    One nice little feature is that you can send a postcard within the app a generic picture of an attraction with a short message. Sort of cute, but too bad you cant take the picture!

    All in all, this is a very nicely designed app for helping plan a day by day itinerary when travelling to a new location.
    It can help you with directions, planning your day by day activities, and even helping find spontaneous activities based on your nearby location. While somewhat confusing to use at first, the app contains enough details and information to make it a valuable travel assistant and is reasonably priced at $5.99. Three and a half out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. 
    11-17-2010 06:04 PM
  2. DusanCarSilni's Avatar
    Coolaza....
    11-18-2010 05:47 AM
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