Talking Travel Apps with Stay.com’s Interactive Designer
You may think guide maps are a thing of the past (or only privy to the Hawaiian shirt–wearing tourists). But Stay.com is revolutionizing guide maps with its multiplatform app called City Guides, Offline Maps. Stay.com was originally founded in 2010 by the man who headed up Norwegian hotel site Hotellweb, and it let users create their own travel guides on the web and download ready-to-print PDFs to take with them on their journeys.
Since the world seems to be going paperless, Stay.com spent 2011 creating City Guides, Offline Maps. The app still lets you download guides, but now they’re downloaded to your mobile device. When you arrive at you destination and can’t get coverage, you can access the location's maps in offline mode. More importantly, you can access the site, restaurant and activity recommendations from more than 40 Stay.com experts.
We love the idea behind Stay.com’s app, not to mention its neat design, so we caught up with Interaction Designer Asgeir Hoem to talk about the work that went into creating City Guide, Offline Maps.
- Tell us how Stay.com is able to offer its app in offline mode (without an Internet connection).
The idea is that you download a city while at home on your Wi-Fi. The one-time download includes any personal guides, a range of curated guides, a fully searchable catalog of the places in the city and a complete city map. A city download is between 15 and 50 MB.
When you arrive, you can freely use the app (including finding your location!) without worrying about roaming charges. Any changes you make while offline will sync up as soon as you find a hotspot or connect to your hotel Wi-Fi.
- What was it like developing an app for both Android and iOS devices?
Each platform has its own challenges. Developing for iOS, you are following quite strict guidelines, and the Apple review time adds several days to each update.
The Android platform is more open and lets us push updates almost instantly. However, with an excess of different devices, different screen sizes and different OS versions, it is practically impossible to test every scenario.
- What is your personal favorite feature of the app?
My favorite feature is the Facebook check-ins, which we put on the map for you. Arriving in a new city and seeing that a bunch of people you know have eaten at a particular restaurant makes for an easy choice!
- What does the travel app’s future look like? Can you share any sneak peaks?
We are always focusing on improving our content and adding new cities. In the coming months, we will be redesigning how the featured city guides are created and displayed.
In the future, you will find a lot more exciting guides by interesting personalities on Stay.com. These will be great starting points for building your own city guide.
- Besides City Guides, Offline Maps, what is your favorite app right now, and why?
My favorite app at the moment is TripIt. It has made traveling almost frictionless for me. It even supports the smallest, domestic, bus-with-wings–type airline in Norway. Great tool!
Apps I Love
Hollywood’s Heartthrob Turns App Investor
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio has been one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs since his performance in Titanic, and he has preserved his reputation as a worthy actor with other hit films such as Inception, The Departed and Catch Me If You Can. But DiCaprio is switching gears from show business—whether it be for a side gig or a change in career—by investing $4 million in the app Mobli.
Going off of the tagline, "See the world through other people’s eyes," Mobli is a social network where users can share photos and videos, and the app automatically tags each post with a location or major event in the surrounding area. Users can also follow channels that display photos about a particular topic, such as Leo himself.
Mobli CEO Moshe Hogeg told The Huffington Post in October 2011 that Leo’s not much of a tech guy, but he is very excited to be involved in the marketing aspect of the app. “He believes in the vision of the company and thinks that this is the future of media. He wanted to get on board in the beginning, influence it, and give his input into the company.”