What’s even more fun then discovering new tech? Discovering new tech that helps you discover fun and interesting places around you!
Imagine if you had a best friend who knew all the best local places – where to shop, where to eat, what to see. Your friend also knew what concerts were playing and was an expert on historical sites. Pretty good friend to have, right? Now imagine this friend being an expert no matter where you went, and not being one of those obnoxious, know-it-all types. That’s a truly great friend. Field Trip is like having that truly great friend.
Field Trip is a free app from Google to help you discover what’s nearby: shops, restaurants, tourist attractions, architecture, museums, deals, nightlife and historical sites. According to Google, Field Trip “is your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you.” Field Trip is available on Android and is due to be released soon for the iPhone.
Here’s a video to inspire you to start discovering the world around you.
Field Trip Features
Field Trip shows you points of interest near you. You can choose to see places in these categories: Architecture, Games, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Food Drinks & Fun, Cool & Unique, Arts & Museums.
You can uncheck any categories that aren’t of interest to you.
Field Trip shows you nearby attractions on a list and a map. The map view makes it very easy to see where everything is located. The markers on the map are color coded by category so you’re not trying to decipher a sea of meaningless markers.
You can tap on a site, either on the map or on the list, to get more information about it. When you find something really cool, you can share it using Facebook, Twitter, email, Dropbox, or text message.
The app runs in the background and you can set it to notify you when you’re near a place of interest. You can set the app to notify you frequently, occasionally or never.
The app gives you information about the site plus includes reviews from other sources, such as Zagats, TimeOut, Thrillist, Food Network, and Eater for restaurants. Atlas Obscura, Dezeen and Daily Secret provide information about interesting sites. The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations can show you where movies were filmed.
If you find a publication unhelpful, you can uncheck it in settings to make sure you don’t see those articles in the app.
If you’re a local travel blogger, you can submit your work to be included in Field Trip. The developer will review it to see if your articles are a good fit for the app.
You can see a history of what you’ve found using the Recent tab. The app will remember what sites you’ve been near so you can go back and visit them at a later time. You can also save favorites to keep track of your favorite places.
Last month, Google updated the app to include local offers from Scoutmob. When you’re looking at places near you, the app can show you special offers, such as a discount at a restaurant or a coupon at a store.
The app learns what you like. By tapping on the icon in the bottom right corner of the screen, you can vote whether you want to see more or less of that category.
The app does a great job of discovering fascinating things around you. Field Trip found an article about an unusual house near me that I always wondered about. The app also displayed an article about an exhibit at a small local museum.
History Buffs – This App Is for You!
If you’re a fan of history, this is a must-have app. The app identifies historical places and events that took place near you. The app will even give you information about places that are no longer around, such as restaurants, shops and theme parks.
For the Historic Places & Events category, the app uses publications such as Archaeological Institute of America, Hidden London, Hostorvius (historic sites of the world), Lighthouse friends, ComeHeretoMe (Dublin), Hidden City Philadelphia, and Abandoned USA.
One very cool feature is Historical Markers. You may pass by an historical marker by the side of the road every day but never have an opportunity to stop and read the information. Field Trip displays a picture of the marker and also includes information on the marker.
Talk to Me
Field Trip doesn’t have to be a silent friend. The app has a setting to speak the information aloud. That’s right, you can set the phone to speak to you when you’re near a place of interest.
You can set the app to always speak or speak when driving is detected. You can also set the app to speak when the phone is connected via a wired headset, Bluetooth, and/or a car dock.
My Field Trip Test
To test Field Trip I went on a Field Trip to New York City over the weekend. Within the app, I chose all of the categories and to be notified occasionally. I kept the app open throughout my trip. As you might imagine, the app was filled with items of interest, including an article on the history of Lincoln Center, a review of a concert at Lincoln Center and recommendations for restaurants nearby.
We were seeing a show at Lincoln Center and wanted to find a restaurant close by. I opened the map and pressed on Lincoln Center. The app showed us nearby restaurants, including reviews from Zagat’s, that helped us find one that looked enticing. (I then used the Open Table app to make reservations at the restaurant.)
If you’re in Midtown New York, check out the Burger Joint, behind a curtain in the lobby of Le Parker Meridien hotel. This speakeasy-like eatery comes highly rated for food (Zagat’s rating: 24), and the atmosphere and decor are charmingly at odds with its luxury hotel surroundings.
You might think that a location-based app that’s constantly updating you would be a huge drain on your battery. I am very pleased to report that this wasn’t the case. I charged my battery before I left for New York on Saturday morning and didn’t need to recharge it until I was back home on Monday morning. (I did turn the power off on my phone Saturday night before I went to sleep.)
The Settings of my phone also have shown that the app isn’t a big drain on my phone’s battery.
No App Is Perfect
Field Trip isn’t flawless. Sometimes when you arrive in a new location the app struggles to figure out where you are. When I first arrived in New York the app said “No nearby places of interest found.” I was fairly certain that was wrong, having previously lived in New York (granted that was a while ago, but still…). That error message also happened in my home town and in Center City Philadelphia.
Solving the problem is easy. Just open your Maps app and let it do the hard work of finding your location. Then open Field Trip and let it get on with its business of telling you about the cool stuff around you.
As of now, Field Trip is Android only but the app should be coming to the iTunes App Store soon. You can get the Field Trip App free for your Android device at Google Play.
The coverage of Field Trip may not be worldwide. I haven’t taken field trips with the app outside the US. The app is free so I’m hoping some awesome Wonder of Tech readers outside the US can let us know in the Comments section below whether the app works in their countries.
If you’re looking for a free app to be your ultimate tour guide whether you’re at home or away, check out Field Trip.
Do you enjoy discovering what’s around you? Have you even driven by an historical marker and wondered what it said? Have you ever lived in a place for years without discovering a hidden gem nearby? Does the app work in your country? Let us know in the Comments section below!