RAW Computing

Discover what's around you with Google Field Trip

When you are in a town or city that you don't know very well and wonder what is around you, there are many apps to choose from. There are city guides, apps that list the local pubs, cafes, cinemas and so on, and maps. Google itself will tell you the nearest pizza for example. Is there room for yet another app? It's a struggle to find a gap in the market never mind space on your phone amongst all the other apps. Yet Google obviously thinks that it can offer something different with Field Trip.

This free app is for iPhones and Android phones and can be found in the respective stores simply by searching on the name. I ran it on an iPhone, although the Android version is just the same. There is a lot of overlap with other location aware what's-around-me type apps and it will display offers and deals, food, drinks and fun, and movie locations.

It offers more than this though and while in Manchester for example, it came up with lots of interesting locations like parks, local landmarks, places of historic interest and so on. You could view these on a map and get further information about them. Other apps of this type generally don't have this sort of thing. You can visit the places or simply read about them while having a coffee. It's quite interesting.

The categories you are interested in can be selected in the settings and they consist of Architechture, Historic Places and Events, Lifestyle, Offers and Deals, Food, Drinks and Fun, Cool and Unique, and Arts and Museums. You can open each category to reveal a list of subcategories, each with tick boxes to show whether you are interested or not.

Field Trip         Field Trip

There are three screens and there is a map showing items around you, a Nearby screen that lists items and a Recent screen that shows notifications. Field Trip constantly monitors your location and pops up notifications when there is something interesting nearby. I didn't get to try it, but if you have a Bluetooth headset it will read out load the notifications (with an option to turn this off automatically when driving, presumably by measuring your speed.) This is fascinating and you could travel around a city with Field Trip talking to you announcing whatever is near by.

One slight irritation is that it permanently enables GPS navigation. This uses the battery faster than normal. Even when the app isn't running, at least on my iPhone 5, the GPS is on. I had to turn it off in Settings. This is probably because of the way it notifies you as you travel around, but if so, it would be better to have an on/off switch in the app.

Despite this minor niggle, I found it to be an interesting app. It's free too.

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