Goby and TripAdvisor: Two Great Mobile Apps for Your Upcoming Travels

5/28/10Follow @wroush

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a laptop or desktop browser. As someone accustomed to navigating big matrices of airfare results like those developed by Cambridge, MA-based ITA Software, I can’t really see myself buying an airline ticket based on the limited view that the TripAdvisor app offers. This is one situation where the larger screen of the iPad would really help.

Goby’s app, which is a “universal” app designed for both the iPhone and the iPad, works and looks great on the larger device. Goby’s tagline is “Create Your Own Adventure,” and the app is set up to help you do that quickly.

The top row of buttons on the app’s home screen are for finding “cool stuff to do near me” either “today,” “this weekend,” or in the “next 7 days.” Once you’ve chosen a time frame, you’re asked to choose a category of activity, such as “things to do,” “food & drink,” “events,” and “places to stay,” along with featured categories like “spring fun” (soon to be replaced by “summer fun,” I’m guessing). Each category has lots of subcategories, but eventually you’re led to a map showing an array of possible destinations, each of which is detailed in an information box to the right of the map.

The screen shot below shows the Goby lineup of “offbeat attractions” in the “things to do” category for Boston. The closest one to Xconomy’s headquarters is the former Charles Street Jail. The jail was converted a few years ago into the Liberty Hotel—where you can have drinks in a bar called “The Clink.” (Just for kicks, I did an “offbeat attractions” search for Roswell, NM; I was directed to four old ghost towns, but no alien landing strips.)

From the “Details” box for each suggested destination in the Goby app, you can read background material drawn from Wikipedia and other sources, get directions, view photos uploaded by other Goby users, and search for other nearby destinations. It’s all arranged in a nicely intuitive way that helps you survey lots of options fast. And the app includes a built-in Web browser so that you can surf to Yelp or other review sites without having to leave the app.

Goby iPad app screen shotOf course, the TripAdvisor and Goby apps are just two of the more than 10,000 travel-related apps available for the iPhone and the iPad, but they make a nice combination.Together, they’ll help you get just about anywhere, then have a satisfying stay and exciting new experiences while you’re there.

One of my future columns will dig into some of the cool travel apps and online travel services coming out of Seattle, the second city in Xconomy’s national network. The Seattle travel app scene includes names like Urbanspoon, Yapta, Inside Trip, Off & Away, Raveable, Second Porch, Concur, Farecast (part of Microsoft’s Bing), and Expedia (which owns TripAdvisor). My Seattle colleague Greg Huang has covered these companies quite a bit, so for now I’ll refer you to this recent story on Inside Trip. Bon voyage.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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