Google, or more specificially NianticLabs@Google, has released a new local discovery application for Android named 'Field Trip', a 'guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you'.
The Play store description of the application is actually excellent.
Field Trip runs in the background on your phone. When you get close to something interesting, it pops up a card with details about the location. No click is required. If you have a headset or bluetooth connected, it can even read the info to you.
Field Trip can help you learn about everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk next to those places.
The hyperlocal history experts of Arcadia will unveil local lore in places you never expected. Trend-setting publications like Thrillist, Food Network, Zagat, and Eater will point out the best places to eat and drink. Experts at Sunset, Cool Hunting, WeHeart, Inhabitat, and Remodelista will guide you to the latest unique stores and products. Atlas Obscura and Daily Secret help you uncover hidden gems no matter where you are. Songkick and Flavorpill guide you to local music.
What did you discover today? Enrich yourself with a Field trip during your commute. Live like a local when you travel to new places. Eat and shop off the beaten path. Or simply discover the obscure history about your neighborhood during your next walk to the park. Get ready to see this world with new eyes!
★ 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.
So that's the sales pitch, what is it like?
First off, on your phone (there's no tablet optimised UI yet), it looks gorgeous. It's got a level of polish that - dare I say it - we're more used to seeing on iOS apps than Android apps, with faux textures (used in a good way), excellent high resolution graphics and an intuitive UI. You can choose how often your phone alerts you to interesting things nearby (often, occasionally or off) and exactly how often you get alerted will depend very much upon where you live. I do like that you can even set the application to read new notifications to you via text-to-speech over a Bluetooth connection when in the car. :)
Field trip is only officially available in the US for now, but appears to work in the UK too with varying levels of success depending on where you live (there's not much round my way, i'm interested to hear about where you live!). The 'card' UI could potentially lend itself nicely to Google Now integration in the future, i'd quite like to see that!