Stay.com says it can now put a city in your pocket, and in fact, it kind of can.
The Oslo, Norway-based company is launching mobile apps so users can access its social travel guides on their phones. And you won’t have to worry about getting a huge data roaming bill or having to stand around an unfamiliar city while waiting for a map to load — before you leave for your trip, you can download the guide (including a full map) for any of the cities to your phone, then it’s stored on your phone for whenever you need it.
The idea of downloadable travel guides isn’t exactly new. For example, NileGuide’s Guide to Go app includes offline access. What’s cool, however, is that Stay.com isn’t just giving you a document, but an interactive map that’s full of recommendations. Founder and CEO Joachim Paasche says that since the Stay.com apps use vector-based maps, they don’t take up all that much space (usually less than five megabytes). You can see content from TripAdvisor and TimeOut, mark locations that are of personal interest, request suggestions from friends, and see where those friends have checked in on Facebook. If you’re using the app in offline mode then go online again (say if your hotel has WiFi), you can open the app and it will automatically update and sync your data.
The company says there are now 116 cities in the system with a total of 21,000 location descriptions.
I’ve played with the app and above all, I was impressed by the speed. It took less than a minute to download the San Francisco guide, then I could open it, zoom in on a location, and scroll around without any noticeable lag — a nice change from the constant load times of the iPhone Maps application.