I’ll quickly introduce the apps I used.
OffMaps is an iPhone map application using the OpenStreetMap data. That data is now surprisingly complete for many European cities and even includes many POIs such as restaurants, bars, public baths and many more.
OffMaps compiles that POI data into easy to use guides that also allow for offline search. Also you can download the full map of a guide or any area you choose to use it offline.
For the guides you need to pay extra. You can either buy single guides or – as I did – just buy the flat rate so you have great local information wherever you go.
The only information I missed was restaurant recommendations instead of only the locations. And routing does not work offline.
The Memonic iPhone application downloads the whole collection for offline use. So in Paris I had access to all my Items without trouble.
All our traveling in Paris was either on foot or by public transport. Métro is a generic public transport app with data for many cities. Among others of course Paris. Once the data is downloaded you can get routes offline. I didn’t get to like the user interface during my few days of working with it but it always gave me correct answers very quickly.
Lonely Planet Paris City Guide
When the “Eyjafjallajökull”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyjafjallajökull came upon us, Loney Planet decided to make some of their city guides available for free for some days. So I downloaded their Paris guide and used it in Paris.
In summary I didn’t like it at all. For starts, the information was too short, contained almost no links between different places and many copy-editing errors such as completely duplicated paragraphs made it into the product. But the real killer was lack of access. The app relies too much on search and doesn’t offer a good browsing access to find interesting places.
It does contain some restaurant recommendations and I did try one of those and liked it. But I ended up relying more on OffMaps even for that task.
Stanza is an E-Book reader for the iPhone. It provided me with reading material for the train rides.
I also relied heavily on built-in applications. Calendar for storing itinerary information, Contacts for knowing where to send postcards to, Notes for some on-the-road information and the Clock for waking up in the morning.
The goal of this mobile site was to get a broad device coverage. As we’ll create an application for the iPhone, it was especially important to get a nice site for all the other devices. During his talk Adrian mentioned the Yahoo! Blueprint framework and I was sold quickly.
The basic architecture is relatively simple:
The really nice thing is that as a developer you don’t have to worry about any of the device detection, HTML generation, CSS fiddling, etc. That’s all handled in the “Yahoo server” box.
For our internal evaluation I gathered the following list of advantages and disadvantages:
- Very broad device coverage
- Fast development
- Image compression done by Yahoo
- Less code
- Mobile frontend hosted by Yahoo without any SLA (but transparent to the users, we can still serve it using the m.memonic.com domain)
- No HTML (we have to convert HTML to XForms XML – that’s a problem for detail pages on Memonic)
- No custom design (though to some extent that’s coming next year)
- No integration in Google Analytics (but we probably can use Yahoo’s own statistics tool for the mobile part)
- Currently no price plan
Based on that list we decided to go with Blueprint for the moment. The architecture means, that whenever we have to migrate away we can probably re-use our existing code and build something similar to Yahoo! Blueprint ourselves. That would actually be a really nice open source project.
For now: thank you Yahoo! for offering a wonderful service.