By Terry Gardner, Special to the Chicago Tribune
7:35 PM EDT, August 7, 2012
Boston Travel Essentials from SutroMedia (Free — with ads — or $2.99 for iOS; $2.99 for Android)
What it is: An app that lets you navigate Boston as if you were Paul Revere.
How it works: You can search for attractions, lodging, food, etc., by picture or category in the free iOS version. The $2.99 version (iOS and Android) includes a global content search, more pictures and offline maps.
Why it's great: The free app is helpful, but the $2.99 version rocks with more photos and features, including a search engine. Categories offer something for everyone: Historical, LGBT, Museums & Libraries, Originals & Gems, Outdoors, Daytrips and Drinks/Drinking. The paid version lets you search the app's content by topics such as Freedom Trail, Beer or Impressionist.
Why you might hesitate: I would like to see additional Daytrips. For example, visitors can easily catch the MBTA to visit the Adams National Historic Park in nearby Quincy to see the birthplace of two presidents: John Adams and John Quincy Adams. The free iOS version asked me to upgrade to the $2.99 paid version on every app launch or when I browsed a lot of pictures. The app is well worth $2.99 for the additional content.
San Diego Essential Guide from Sutro Media ($2.99 for iOS and Android)
What it is: An app created by a San Diego native that puts the city in your pocket.
How it works: You can browse the app using filters or photos or tap the magnifying glass (upper right), then type "massage" or "pizza" to get all the listings on each subject.
Why it's great: The app has 249 entries, more than 3,000 photos, plus a companion website (sandiegoessentialguide.com). The app is integrated with Google maps and includes offline maps. Want to find a truck with 99-cent fish tacos? The app has that, plus insider info on how to save dough at the San Diego County Fair and other spots. Get Physical leads users to places to sweat or relax or to satisfy a craving for a hike, a snorkel, a yoga class or a massage. Libations covers the craft beer scene along with tips on where to sip the harder stuff. Events & Festivals provides the lowdown for free summer concerts and festivals.
Why you might hesitate: The Pet-friendly category could be beefed up, but it's hardly reason to hesitate. The $2.99 price includes free updates.
Trover (Free for iOS and Android)
What it is: A photo-driven app that helps you discover things.
How it works: The app uses your phone's GPS to show what locals and visitors have photographed nearby. You can search by your location or check out discoveries that were photographed elsewhere, from Africa to the Arctic. Trover filters include Trending, Trover Picks, Featured Lists and Places.
Why it's great: The app can plug you into the local scene when you're traveling or help you plan your next adventure when you're home. Jason Karas, CEO of Trover, advised via email that Trover's community spans 170 countries and that all content is original. I like the way the images capture local quirks. For example, when I recently checked out images at home in Santa Monica, I saw a lot of food and beach photos. When I asked Trover to "Take me to London, UK," I saw more cultural pictures along with food meant to accompany Champagne.
Why you might hesitate: If you're more text-oriented than photo-driven, you desire a bit more prose. But for free, Trover is hard to resist.
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