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GuidePal City Guides: Your personal city tour guide on Android

August 31, 2012

Going on a vacation means a lot of things. Relaxing, recuperating, re-energizing, and, don’t forget, discovering things. If you’ve decided to give yourself a gift in the form of a vacation, you’ll be aware of the advantages and the disadvantages of traveling. The top problem is, of course, getting lost.

Thankfully, Google Maps has been a great help in that department, but it’s still a bit too broad. You can see establishments and buildings, but which of those little dots is a good place to grab some coffee or rest your feet and listen to a live band?

GuidePal City Guides is here to make things easier for you. This app promises to make any tourist feel like a local by providing them insider tips for major cities. Do away with that embarrassing map that practically screams tourist; GuidePal City Guides will give you the best that the city you’re in has to offer.

Once you launch the app, you’ll be prompted to sign in with your Facebook account or you can create a GuidePal account. Once you pick a city, you can see its Guide, Map, Nearby, and My Trip tabs at the top of the screen. You can access various sections under each tab.

Under the Guide tab, you can get a brief history of the city, quick facts, useful tips for getting around the city, and places to be. What’s especially nice about the locations that GuidePal has for you is that each location comes with its address, phone number, website, opening hours or general information. Those little details easily eliminates the hassle of asking your tourist guide. If you’re particularly intrigued to visit one spot, make sure to tap on the heart icon.

The Map tab shows you a snapshot of the area you’re in, with a cluster of icons to give you an idea of what you can do around the city.

GuidePal makes good use of your smartphone’s camera and gives you an idea of what establishments are near you via Augmented Reality. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t in Athens, Greece but I was able to experience a demonstration of how the Nearby function works. Hold it up in landscape mode and turn this way or that. GuidePal shows you locations in your area so you can head for the nearest restaurant or shop.

The last tab is My Trip. After you’ve had an idea of what places you should check out while at your vacation destination, you can view all of your favorited locations in one place.

You can opt to download the maps to your Android device so you won’t need to pay costly data fees or attach yourself to a Wi-Fi spot just to get around the city you’re in. Be warned that it may take a while to download the maps.

Some of the snags that I experienced with GuidePal were minor but a little annoying. When I narrowed my search to Asia, for example, it brought me to the very bottom of the list. When I went up and ended up pulling down the list, in turn refreshing it, I was brought back to the complete list of maps. When viewing a city’s map, I could not zoom in and understand the mess of icons I was seeing. The app could be greatly improved if it allowed the user to be able to see each individual app so they could get a sense of their bearings. Speaking of zooming in, each city’s history is shown in text that might be a little too small for some users. Unfortunately, you cannot pinch to zoom either.

It’s also worth noting that GuidePal is by no means extensive. It seems that only major tourist destinations are available. Don’t expect GuidePal to be able to help you out if you’re planning to visit the Philippines or
some other less-traveled locations.

Despite these issues that I experienced, GuidePal is definitely a good way to get around a city without bringing a bulky map and looking like you’re a total tourist. Get insider trips and get the most of what a city has to offer by downloading GuidePal City Guides from the Google Play Store today.