Field Trip from Google mobile app review

Field Trip is one of those apps that I stumbled upon recently. It is developed by Google, but is also available on Apple devices. This app helps you explore the world around you by discovering points of interest based on different categories. You can setup the app to find things around you in specific subjects like Architecture, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Food, Drinks & Fun, Cool & Unique, and Art & Museums.

Field Trip
Field Trip
Food, Drinks & Fun
Food, Drinks & Fun
Lifestyle
Lifestyle
Cool & Unique
Cool & Unique
Nearby
Nearby

In the Field Trip app you can see things around you on a map using Google Maps, in a list on the Nearby tab, Recent places you have been near, and Favorites that you can save by logging into your Google account. Once you sign in with your profile, you also have the ability to sign up for the Fieldtripper newsletter by email that will send you suggestions to your inbox.

Within each of the interest categories, you can select the feeds that contribute to the suggestions. These are taken from all over the world, so you can drill down and choose to leave out some that are in other languages or not specific to your geographic location if you opt to do so. I like to keep everything selected because you never know when someone in Germany will travel to your area and suggest something new to try. Also, in each subject you can select on a sliding scale to show more or less from each particular source. Field Trip additionally allows you to set the frequency of your overall notifications from Explore (frequent), Feeling Lucky (occasional) to Off (disabled).

Speak When options
Speak When options

Settings for Field Trip can be customized to turn notification sounds on and off. Bluetooth can also be enabled if you want to have your sounds come through instead of through your phone or tablet speakers. A cool feature is the speaking aspect of the Field Trip app. You can choose to have titles and descriptions, just titles, or nothing spoken to you by the app. Furthermore, you can tell the app when to speak.

I love the Field Trip app for discovering new stuff around home for a staycation, exploring a new area, or just learning more about places you’ve already visited. You can share the information you discover through Google+, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, text, etc. right from the Field Trip app. Feedback options are available for each article so content can be improved over time. Each card for the points of interest features more detailed information including a Google Maps link for easy directions. Here you can see info on McKechnie Field and Bonefish Grill in the app.

McKechnie Field
McKechnie Field
Bonefish Grill
Bonefish Grill
Detailed card
Detailed card
Feedback
Feedback

I can’t wait to explore even more to find exciting opportunities around me that I didn’t know existed from restaurants to entertainment and cultural offerings. Have you tried out this new app? What do you think? Any favorite discoveries so far? Let me know what you think.

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Disney Story App Review

Recently, Disney released a new free app called Story for Apple iOS devices running 5.1 or later. According to the developer notes in the App Store, the Disney Story app is optimized for iPhone 5. Although I have an iPhone 4S, I had no evident issues although the app was not designed for my particular model of phone.

The basic premise behind the app is that the pictures and videos you take tell the stories of your life. You are able to view shared stories on a unique website that is created for each Disney Story created in the app. If you choose to share just keep in mind that those who can see your Facebook or are invited to the email will be able to see the story, so please don’t publish private information like addresses or phone numbers. The information provided by Disney from the App Store indicates that the unique Disney Story websites will not be able to be searched for or found without the unique web address. Any pictures or videos uploaded, but not shared are deleted from the app’s server after seven days.

I found the app to be very user friendly and intuitive for anyone familiar with an Apple device. The Disney Story app accesses your camera roll to organize pictures and videos by date and location. This makes it very easy to see stories of your life appear before you to share with others.

Disney Story in App Store
Disney Story in App Store
Tech Spec Requirements
Tech Spec Requirements
Getting Started
Getting Started
Basic Instructions
Basic Instructions
Story Started
Story Started
Renamed Title
Renamed Title
Mickey Theme
Mickey Theme
Straightforward Menus
Straightforward Menus
Theme Options
Theme Options
Uploading to Email
Uploading to Email
Ways to Share and Follow Disney Story
Ways to Share and Follow Disney Story
Selecting Moments to Start a Story
Selecting Moments to Start a Story

Once you have downloaded and installed the app, make sure you login to or create a Disney account. This is necessary in order to share your stories. When you have selected what kind of story you want to tell by date and location by choosing pictures to start from in My Moments, you can start creating your Story. The Story is limited to 20 pictures, but allows you some creative latitude in layout and editing the pictures to zoom in and out. It is very easy to add pictures from your camera roll, delete unwanted pictures, rearrange the order of pictures and even take new pictures and video straight from the app. After just a few minutes of playing with Disney Story, I created a story of my own. You can see it here.

Here is a video from the Apple App Store showing the sizzle reel for Disney Story: httpv://youtu.be/FemQuheA4mw

I think this is a fantastic app that will allow people to very easily create and share stories with friends and families while on the go. You don’t have to wait to get back from vacation to share that story about the first time the kids met their favorite characters in the Magic Kingdom. You caught it all on video and in pictures and can email it off to grandma and grandpa while you are right there still in the park. It will be a great way of sharing the magical moments your family and friends experience on a small scale with those who aren’t there or even with all of your Facebook friends. I love the Disney Story app and look forward to using it more to share stories with friends and family that aren’t able to join me on my adventures. Creating these little vignettes is a quick and easy way to share your stories one moment at a time instead of in a large album of your entire vacation. I hope you all will take the time to download this new app and I look forward to seeing your stories!

Do you have the Disney Story app? What do you think? Have you used it yet to share your stories? Tell us about it!

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Sea World / Busch Gardens App Review

This week I’d like to focus on two great apps for smartphones from Busch Gardens and Sea World. I have often being accused of being attached to my phone while in the parks, but in this case, this is a good thing. These apps are amazing! They have some great features that I will explore a little further with a bit more detail.

First off, the layout for both Busch Gardens is similar as you can see from the pictures below. On the first screen upon opening the app for the first time after downloading it, you will be asked to choose which park location you’d like to choose from to install that specific park’s information on your phone. Seen below are the screen shots for the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Sea World Orlando. The next screen you will see is the home screen with a built in compass. The screen is broken up into categories of Animals, Search, Shows, Attractions/Rides & Wait Times, Restrooms, Stay Connected, Food and Explore More. I have also taken a picture of the park maps with some of the search options.

 

Across the bottom of each screen you have the Home, Events, Camera, Map and More options. With the Busch Gardens map above I just zoomed out to see the whole park. For the Sea World map I opted to search for the companion restrooms at the park.

Since the features are practically identical for the two parks, I will focus just on one from this point forward since I went to Sea World most recently and much of the functionality is brought out best while in the park based on GPS location.

Animals

For the Animals section you are able to sort alphabetically by name or distance from your current location within the park.

Search

Search allows you to type in a keyword and gives your results in alphabetical order, but also shows your distance and a brief description. If you are wanting more specific information about dolphins, click on the listed links.

Shows
A'Lure Directions
A'Lure

One of my favorite things about the app is the show listings. I love all of the shows Sea World to offer and the function of sorting by name, distance or show time is great! I used this to find my way to explore a new show for me: A’Lure. It directed me and kept constantly updating my distance to the show.

Ride & Wait Times

Similar to shows, Ride & Wait Times allows you to sort by name, distance or wait time if you are looking for something to ride.

Restrooms

Again with the Restrooms you are able to sort by name or distance. If you want GPS directions, just click on the name of the restroom and the app will direct you with step by step map using GPS.

Stay Connected

On the Stay Connected tab, you can get more information on Sea World by following them on Twitter, liking them on Facebook, following the Sea World blog or signing up for the email list.

Food

Much like the other categories, with Food you can sort by name or distance. Once you select a location you can see more like sample menu items and pricing.

Explore More - Up-Close Tours
Explore More - In-Park Dining
Explore More - Animal Interactions
Explore More - Adventure Camps - Sleepovers
Explore More - Quick Queue

For the Explore More section of the app you can learn more about Tours, Camps, Animal Interaction programs, the Quick Queue program and the All Day Dining Deal (which I highly recommend).

Events

Events lists upcoming things like concert series and special events for the next few months along with more information and specific dates.

Camera

I absolutely loved the Camera function of the app. It was so cool to take pictures in the park and add fun borders right then to save to your phone to upload or send to friends and family. However, this was the only part of the app that I had some issues with it acting a little buggy going back to my phone’s home screen instead of to the app’s home screen when I was done take the picture.

Map

You can see the interactive footsteps on the map once you have selected your destination. Along the top you have options of searching or pre-selected categories of Animal Connections, Shows, Rides, First Aid, Restroom, Nursing Facility, Defibrillator, Drinks, Snacks & Refills, Companion Restrooms, ATM, Amenities, Dining, Lockers, Guest Information, Events, Gifts & Souvenirs, Smoking, and Clear All. You can select multiple options at the same time and can move the map around as well as zoom in and out. Also included is the ability to recenter the GPS to your current position.

More - Contact Us/General Information

If you are wanting to contact Sea World or get more general info about the park, like their address for GPS, you can find this under the More – Contact Us/General Information section.

More - Park Hours

Park Hours is pretty self explanatory and shows the hours for each day of the month when you click on the calendar.

More - Directions

The directions tab is particularly useful if you don’t have a GPS program. When I went to the Directions my phone verified my current location and calculated distance and time based on GPS.

More - Weather

There is even a built in Weather app to give you the forecast for the day.

More - Commitment

If you are wanting to learn more about Sea World’s mission and pledge to environmental education and protection, visit the Commitment section under More.

More - Car Finder
Car Finder
Car Finder
Car Finder

I think my favorite thing using the GPS was the Car Finder function. When you park your car you drop a pin to mark the GPS location of where you parked. When you are leaving for the day you can revisit the car finder to find your car! No more do you have to try to remember where exactly you parked. I found this to be very reliable and it even recognized when I reached my car.

 

All in all, I am very impressed with the Sea World and Busch Gardens apps. Even though I know my way around the parks well enough to not need a park map, it is nice to have the GPS to show you the shortest distance or alternate routes to get where you are going. There are tons of great features that these apps offer using the GPS technology and search functions. I use these apps pretty much every time I’m in these parks, especially for the show times to see what I can catch on a whim and also for wait times and exploring what is in the area. Honestly, the only thing I had any issues with was the camera function on occasion. I’d say it worked fine three out of five times I tried it. I think these are some of the nicest apps for parks in the area and wish some of the other parks would adopt some of these features and ease of use. Check them out next time you’re in the area or even if you just want to check to see what is going on in the parks in advance of your trip!

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