Google Launches FieldTrip, A Location-Aware App That Helps You Find Cool Stuff Around You

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Google just launched FieldTrip, a new location-based app that, as the company says, is meant to be “your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you.” Just like Google Now can show you location-based information on Android 4.1, FieldTrip runs in the background and will automatically show you a card with relevant information as you walk around. The app, says Google, “can help you learn about everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun.” FieldTrip is currently only available for Android (2.3+), but the developers say that an iOS version is “coming soon.”

The product was developed by NianticLabs, a small group inside of Google that, according to the New York times, specializes in building location-based and social mobile apps. Talking to the New York Times, NianticLabs’ John Hanke said that “the idea behind the app was to build something that would help people connect with the real, physical world around them.”

The data is sourced from publication like Thrillist, Food Network, Eater, Cool Hunting, Arcadia and Google’s own Zagat. These, says Google, will “help you uncover hidden gems no matter where you are.” Users can choose how often they want to alerts and what topics they are interested in. Currently, the app focuses on architecture, historic places, lifestyle, food, drinks and “cool and unique” places.

For each one of these sections, users can choose the publications and information sources they want to include (so if you’re not a fan of Sunset Magazine, you can turn those alerts off, for example). You can also set FieldTrip up to read alerts out aloud when your phone is connected to a headset or in a car dock.

Interestingly, there is also an “offers and deals” section, which will show deals from Google Offers and Vayable’s selection of travel experiences. So far, Google hasn’t offered these kinds of ambient location-based alerts for deals in its own Offers app or through Google Now, but it’s clearly an area that could become very profitable for the company in the long run.

Here is a summary of the app’s highlights, according to Google:

★ 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.