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Google’s getting into the mobile market, find out when that fully-booked hotel has a vacancy, take audio-based walking tours on your smartphone, and Canon releases a couple of feature-packed DSLRs that show the Rebel range isn’t just for beginners any more.
I guess it’s time for some more Travel Tech News!
New GPS-Based Walking Tours Actually Seem Kinda Cool
I sometimes take walking tours when I’m in a new city — they can be a good way of finding interesting titbits your guidebook doesn’t mention, while getting some exercise into the bargain.
Or, alternatively, they can be a way of losing a couple of hours of your life, wandering round with a large group of people who chatter incessantly and get in all your photos, while looking at nothing particularly interesting.
The problem, of course, is you rarely know which option you’re going to end up with.
What if there was a way of getting all of the good bits, without most of the bad bits? Andrew Mason, the guy behind Groupon, has recently released an app called Detour that may well do just that.
The app closely tracks your location via GPS, splicing in appropriate audio commentary to let you wander freely without having to take your phone out of your pocket. The idea is you just put in an earphone and let the app do the rest.
Detour is initially focusing on half a dozen tours in San Francisco that get away from the main tourist spots — including going inside a few shops that have been prepped to expect the occasional lost-looking visitor. You’ll pay $5 for one tour, or $20/year to access all tours in a city.
It’s a cool idea, if done well. In time, the plan is for it to expand to cities across the globe. It’s iOS-only for now, with an Android version due “soon”.)
Google Now Wants to Be Your Cell Company
In one of the worst-held tech secrets in recent times, Google has finally announced its intention to become a mobile service provider — because, you know, it was a bit short on products already.
On stage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this week, one of the company’s senior executives mentioned that it will be offering voice and data plans on a “small scale”.
Quite what that means is anybody’s guess, but it seems that, at this point at least, Google will become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the US. This means the company can buy wholesale access to carrier networks like those from Verizon and T-Mobile, and then use that to sell cellular plans to it customers.
This isn’t a big deal by itself — there are plenty of other companies in the US and around the world who do something similar — but it will be very interesting to see exactly what Google intends to offer, and why.
The biggest hint so far is that the company isn’t necessarily looking to compete on price, but to offer features like seamless movement between LTE and WiFi networks. All will be revealed, apparently, in the coming months.
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Get Alerted When Your Favourite Hotel Has Rooms Again
Ever gone to book a room at your favourite hotel, only to find out that everyone else had the same idea and there are no vacancies? Yeah, thought so.
Usually you’d just go and book somewhere else, angrily muttering to yourself about how there’d better be some decent toiletries in the shower at the new place or there’s going to be hell to pay. Or maybe that’s just me.
A new app offers another option, however — as the name suggests, Hotel Room Alerts will monitor its inventory of hotels for availability, and send you an SMS or email when a room becomes available again. You just plug in the dates, hotel and room type, and let the app do the rest.
It currently checks 170,000+ hotels around the world, is free to use and has iOS and Android versions available. If you’re not booking at the last minute, it’s worth checking out.
Canon’s New T6 DSLRs Add Even More Features to Rebel Range
Canon’s Rebel range of DSLRs was once very much aimed at entry-level photographers, with specifications to match. Over time, though, several of the features from higher-end models have made their way into the Rebel cameras, and they’re now useful even for those whose skills and expectations are quite a bit higher.
Unsurprisingly, the latest T6i and T6s are no exception. With 24 megapixel sensors, an ISO range of 100-12800, 3″ touchscreen, inbuilt WiFi and full HD video recording at 30fps, these are impressive cameras for the price.
The T6s has a few extra touches, including HDR video, an LCD info panel on the top of the camera and an electronic level meter for keeping those horizons nice and straight.
You’ll be looking at $749/$849 for the camera body, or $1099/$1199 with an 18-135mm kit lens, when they’re released at the end of next month. Pre-orders are available on Amazon and elsewhere now.