Saturday, September 03, 2011

Touring New Zealand by phone

I was checking Twitter today, and I saw a Tweet from nzhistory.net about a new, free iPhone app, Roadside Stories, from the Ministry for Culture and Hertiage.

Sounded interesting, so I followed the link to the site where I found they described it as:
“…a series of audio guides that follow major road trips in New Zealand. The stories cover the places you’ll pass along the way – their people, their history, their cultural and natural significance.”
I was intrigued by now, and then red of the app itself:
“The Roadside Stories app contains 11 tours of New Zealand, featuring over 100 stops, each with a four-minute audio file and photos. You can download the tours before heading out on the road so you don't have to worry about paying for mobile data. Each tour includes a map to help you find the locations.”
I downloaded and installed the app on my iPhone and tried downloading the tour of Auckland to Hamilton. The app suggests downloading the tour beforehand so in can be used without an Internet connection. Very wise advice, because my home wifi connection is faster and cheaper than using data connection on the phone.

But there’s more to it than just an app.

The tours are on YouTube, grouped into playlists. The tours are also integrated with Google Maps, and you can subscribe to the tours as podcasts through iTunes—all of them or just the tours you’re interested in. All 110 MP3s are available as a single 550MB download, too.

I think all of this is fantastic—and a great idea. My only criticism is that there’s no mention of an Android app, and I think there should be one. Still the availability of the tours on YouTube and as podcasts does help make tours accessible to those without iPhones. It just could be better.

Anything that encourages people to tour New Zealand is a good thing, and things that make that touring easier is better still. So far, this seems to be a both. It’s also nice to see government using technology in new ways.


Roger Owen Green said...

I'm sure that some programmer is pulling out his or her hair: "We do this REALLY nifty thing, and this dude complains that it's not on Android?"

Arthur Schenck said...

ONE sentence. I sure hope that they wouldn't take offence at one bloody sentence! ;-)

Roger Owen Green said...

well, you know how programmers are; they see the failings in everything.

Arthur Schenck said...

Well, then, we have something in common: On this blog, for example, I see my errors, not always what was good or correct.