Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Tour Guide in Your Pocket?" Take a look at HearPlanet, Boomers

Boomers who travel often want to save some money and I just ran across a great little application for the iPhone that will help you do that. It's an app called HearPlanet that replaces travel guides, and it was recommended in a list of best iPhone apps by National Geographic Adventure Magazine. 

The other apps in this list are interesting, but National Geographic writer Steve Casimiro says this application is like "having a tour guide in your pocket." The app "tells you what attractions are nearby and then plays the Wikipedia description aloud."  There is a free version and one priced at $4.99. Even if you splurge for the $4.99 version, it could save boomers a lot of money buying guide books at the various sites they visit.

The beauty of HearPlanet is that it uses geolocation technology. You don't have to type in where you are.  You just press a button on the far left on the bottom of the Featured Places screen, and the application finds where you are and recommends places near you.

One reviewer in an AAA magazine said "The drive took us past Casa Grande, the site of ancient American Indian ruins. To learn about them, Janice searched HearPlanet  ($4.99), a talking guidebook that uses your location to find Wikipedia articles about nearby sights. It gave us an instant overview of Casa Grande."

I downloaded the free version of HearPlanet, and I found it was an amazing tool. Here's what the app came up with around my house.

I live in a residential area of New Jersey, but I found an entry for the nearby commuter airport.  The entry gave a detailed history of the airport and even mentioned that the airport gained notoriety when John F. Kennedy, Jr. took off from there on his ill-fated last flight.

The only problem with the Free version seems to be that it continuously asks you to upgrade to the complete version which has interactive maps.

Reviewers of the upgraded version are sometimes frustrated by the lack of a signal in the places they are visiting, but that is problem with the AT&T network and not the program. Still it would be better if you could download some of the info ahead of time, just in case the signal couldn't be found.

The free version doesn't recommend restaurants or tell you the best places to stay, so I'm sure one of the more traditional travel guides will still be required. Still this is a great little application that could help you discover new places to go and see.


Kaye Swain said...

Very cool! I'm going to download the freebie right now. Then I'll wait and see if I ever need the upgraded version. As one of the Baby Boomer generation who is also dealing with the Sandwich Generation issues of being a Granny Nanny and caring for elderly parents, most of my travels are to areas I am familiar with. But, you never know! :) :) :) Thanks for the heads up!

Steven Echt said...

Great review, Thanks!