If you’ve logged onto the Android Market this week, you’ll have noticed that the ‘not amazing’ Trip Advisor app is featured in its headline banner. We were planning to write a review detailing how, with a few improvements, Trip Advisor could have produced a straight up ‘amazing’ app. Then we got an email telling us about the travel specialist’s City Guide series and all of a sudden, everything was right with the world.
Our main gripe with the proper Trip Advisor app is that despite having the hard bit sorted with loads of quality content, it looked fairly boring. Not so boring we were wiping tears of disinterest from our eyes but it did help to redefine the phrase ‘bog standard’. Essentially, things were average enough to make the whole experience off-putting.
Rather than rehashing their umbrella app for the new City Guide series however, Trip Advisor did something very clever and used it as an excuse to experiment. Not only are the City Guides now a resounding success but Trip Advisor has a much better template to operate from when its eventual update kicks in. Out of the 20 available Guides, we plumped for the London app because we live there and so should know whether it’s spouting a load of cobblers or not. Hint: It isn’t.
London City Guide combines well with your phone’s GPS chip to make sure every bit of content is both relevant and highly localised. Restaurants, hotels and attractions are all listed according to their distance away from you with average pricing, user ratings and local rankings collated into an impressively small amount of space. You can even get directions to each location via the Google Maps app and save your favourites into order to find your way back to a great discovery at a later date.
By far and away the best feature included in the London City Guide is its Self-Guided Free Tours option which offers you several routes around different London destinations depending on what you want to get out of your trip. From fashion to royalty, every theme is covered in a good amount of detail with plenty of appropriate places to visit. Each stop is also marked on a detailed map, so you’ve got no chance of getting lost.
If there’s an area where the app disappoints, it’s the Learn More About London section which just contains block text to scroll through on topics such as culture, architecture and transport. With almost every other bit of the app designed down to a tee, it’s a bit of a mystery how Trip Advisor slipped into their dull ways of old at almost the final hurdle.
Still, there’s no mistaking the fact that Trip Advisor have almost perfected the travel app formula on a free download basis. The success of its London City Guide goes to show that great content isn’t enough to make a quality app. Design is just as important and it’s about time more developers realised this.
The Bottom Line
A vast library of content married to great design. Exactly how a travel app should be done.
Version reviewed 1.0
Requires Android 2.1 or higher