City Maps and Walks review

Checking out some mapping / walking apps to see what kinds of interface work...

Today I'm having a look at, inc's City Maps and Walks app, just to see what kind of functionality and interface they use to see whether it can inform the way I design our City Strata cinema layer prototype.

Once you've downloaded the app you can search their catalogue for a city you want to explore - I obviously chose the Bristol Self-Guided Walking Tour, the lite version of which is free to download. You can upgrade for $4.99 to a version with more functionality.

They've designed the app to work offline so no 3G connection or data plan is needed nor any roaming charges if traveling abroad. Things to think about, like battery life as my collaborator Jo Reid pointed out in relation to the Curzon Memories App.  There's a good FAQ section that addresses issues around connectivity, roaming, WiFi and GPS.

There is a function to create your own Custom Tour. I like the idea of having both structured, guidede walks and 'create your own'.  When I had a go on this though, the interface wasn't that intuitive and then it just crashed. Once I eventually managed to create my own points of interest and wanted to save the app it said that my route is not supported in the lite version and I have to upgrade in order to draw the route, which was rather frustrating...

In the meantime, here's a bit more of an overview and reflecton on what works and what doesn't. The free/demo version is powered by an advertising bar at the bottom which presumably goes away if you upgrade to the full version - thoughts about monetisation, cinema listings, Orange Wednesdays,, etc for the cinemap layer... Mark Leaver, thoughts please?!

The walks vary from 1-3 hours, with most of them weighing in at 2 hours - again something to think about in terms of how long an experience people are after.  Instinctively I'd like to go for a feature-length film running time of aroun 86 mins.  The number of attractions in each guided walk range from 6-12 points of interest, averaging around 8. Here's a screen grab outlining the available tours with a couple of screen grabs: screen grab

One thing to mention is that there is a facility for the user to upload their own photos, and to Like in Facebook and Twitter - if you look at the third image along, there's a little black tab you can pull out to access these functions. So, it kind of does some of the things that I want City Strata to do, but my main feeling about this is that it feels like an App not an experience - it doesn't have the depth of content required to make it really satisfying for the user and the interface - but I guess it's difficult to comment without upgrading as much of the content is not accessible in the demo version - the tour route map and walking directions are only available in the full version. And yet I'm not tempted to fork out $4.99 by what I've seen so far... although maybe my REACT budget can stretch to this??

BTW, they are looking for authors who are passionate about their city to design walking tours... wonder if it's worth keying in to their audience somehow - again Mark Leaver may have some insight into this.