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Google Field Trip for Android Review: Freeware

As Apple Maps finds itself, Google releases an Android travel app called Field Trip.

Field Trip, available now in Google Play from Google’s Niantic Labs, mashes up Google Maps with a pile of other databases like those from Zagat for restaurant reviews, plus The Food Network, Sunset Magazine and other location-based resources. It’ll make your phone vibrate if, based on your source selection, there is something of potential interest to you nearby.

It’ll even whisper into your earpiece just what that attraction is. Here’s my review.

Screen Shot Google Field Trip App

I clicked all of the sources and waited.

Crickets.

I live in the historic town of Sonoma, California, where the crickets come out every night. But I am also within walking distance of several Zagat-rated restaurants, one Michelin-starred eatery, a bunch of wineries and numerous historical landmarks. All Field Trip found was one historic house a half-mile away.

Other so-called augmented reality programs I have tried turned up dozens of listings nearby.

Screenshot Field Trip

On the other hand, I drove through the most touristy neighborhood in the Napa Valley and up popped a number of restaurants plus a couple of other attractions. There were options to vote thumbs up or thumbs down and navigate to them using Google Maps. But they were all within feet of my location. I wish, like other AR apps, Field Trip offered an option to extend its range.

Field Trip has a clean, fast interface, but for the moment its content is pretty thin for where I live. Google is promoting Field Trip in several large cities so it may work better there, even though its corny ad shows a pasture similar to one just a few blocks away from where I live.

But Field Trip could be a baby step in the direction of something more.

Think about it. Google grabbed headlines in the travel industry when it last year purchased ITA Software, which powers at least parts of Bing, Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia and Hotwire. Google promised the Justice Department that it would be nice and the sale was approved.

ITA now powers Google’s Flight Search. This year Google pounced on Zagat restaurant reviews and last month bought the massive database of destinations and attractions of Frommer’s Travel Guides.

Frommer’s isn’t integrated into Field Trip … yet.

You know where this is going. But how far could it go? Google’s increasing control of content is bothering some folks.

But what is content, anyway?

And how far do you have to go before content becomes supply chain? Google Offers is part of the app. How far will Google go in verticalizing travel, one of the largest but most competitive spaces on the web? Does it indeed want to go there? It has some people in the travel industry a bit concerned.

Field Trip was designed by Google’s Niantic Labs. The Niantic was a whaling ship that brought treasure-seekers to San Francisco during the Gold Rush.

“Hark, whale off starboard!”

Field Trip is available only for Android at fieldtripper.com and on Google Play.

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