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Google’s new Field Trip app begins the journey to serendipitous geo-computing


Google is releasing version 1.0 of a new app, called “Field Trip”, today that runs in the background and provides users with information about their surroundings as they navigate the world. After setting the frequency of Field Trip notifications, the app works without a user having to activate. It provides users with notifications containing information about places they are nearby. The app’s ability to provide users with information about the world around them, in some cases without even having to look at the screen, is something that the app’s creator thinks could help reach Google’s goal to move “the device out of your way and put the information front and center.” It is a philosophy that goes hand-in-hand with Google Glass, and it could be Google’s first step toward developing apps that break the mold of traditional mobile apps. Speaking with the New York Times, the app’s creator said these new types of apps would allow users to “scan the environment and know what the Web knows about the places around you.”

The app pulls data from a number of sources, such as Zagat, Food Network, Songkick, Cool Hunting and Atlas Obscura, and it displays information for a number of categories including: Architecture, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Food Drinks & Fun, Movie Locations, Outdoor Art and Obscure Places of Interest.

The app can even read the information to you. For instance, as you drive, it display points of interest on a map and learns what you like the more you use it. The New York Times, which spoke with the developers of the app, explained the creators came from Keyhole—a mapping company Google bought to improve Google Maps:

Mr. Hanke, who co-founded Keyhole, a mapping start-up that Google bought to help it develop maps, was the head of Google Maps for several years. Last year, he decided he wanted to leave Google to found another start-up. But Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, persuaded him to stay, Mr. Hanke said, and start a small lab in San Francisco. He named it Niantic Labs, after a ship that traveled to San Francisco during the Gold Rush.

The Android app is already available on Google Play, but Google also has an iPhone version on the way. Google highlighted a few of the app’s features on its Google Play page:

★ Discover thousands of interesting places/experiences that fall under the following categories: Architecture, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Food Drinks & Fun, Movie Locations, Outdoor Art and Obscure Places of Interest around you.

★ Choose from three different modes to set frequency of Field Trip notifications. See “Field Trip” worthy places around you on a map, by tapping on cards in map view to pull up enthralling points of interest around you.

★ Go on a Field Trip while you drive. Field Trip can detect when you’re driving and automatically “talk” about interesting places and experience around you.

★ Capture the memory of a special place, by sharing a wondrous discovery through email and social networks such as Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

★ Wondering where the gem that you recently discovered is? Find your discovered field trip cards in the “recent’ section.

★ Field trip learns what you love. Thumbs up or down to tune the information discovery engine.

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Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s weekly Logic Pros series and makes music as one half of Toronto-based Makamachine.