Best App(s) to explore New York with. Part 2. / by Natashia Tjandra

Last week’s conclusion was to keep Urban Daddy: The Next Move App, and Wallpaper City Guide: New York. Let’s see how those compare with Scvngr, Gogobot, Sōsh and Spotsetter.

Here’s the updated Criteria.

1. Easy to use

2. Engaging and makes me want to use it over and over again

3. Accurate information

4. Beautiful

5. Bonus – using iOS touch capabilities

6. Data of the latest places to check out and travel to.

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This week’s contenders are:

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1. SCVNGR (pronounced scav·en·ger)

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Unique Feature Check-ins and tasks are given. When you check-in, you get points. When you complete the tasks, you are given real life rewards. The more daring the task, the bigger reward you get. What makes this interesting is that you are pitted against your friends.

Features Check-in • Location • Tasks • Photo taking • Facebook integration • Friend’s Feed • Profile • Friends • Badges • Places • Rewards • Treks • Social Map •  Notification bar.

Pros

  • Clean, intuitive, easy to use. Loads quickly.
  • Imagine going into your favorite burrito shop, launching the SCVNGR app to check-in. You are being offered the challenge of turning the tin-foil wrapper into an origami sculpture for four bonus points. I totally just made that up. But it’s pretty close to the challenges listed on SCVNGR.
  • All the challenges are either user-created/inspired, or created by the businesses themselves.
  • When you choose a venue to check-in to that screen has three tabs: Challenges, Activity, and Info. The default challenges with every venue is: check-in, social check-in, say something, and snap a picture. You earn points by completing a challenge. The social check-in is a pretty cool challenge. You and another SCVNGR user can bump phones to get twice as many points for that check-in. The more challenges you do, the more points you acquire. Once you’ve gained a certain amount of points you can then create your own challenges.
  • It integrates with Facebook and Twitter. Makes it easy to see what you’re Facebook friends have checked into under the “Friends Feed” section.
  • You have an option to only share your check-ins with your friends or strangers on SCVNGR.
  • The Friend’s Feed displays a list of your friend’s check-ins. It has two sub-categories: Recent and Popular. The neat thing about the Recent tab is it mixes both your SCVNGR and Facebook friends.
  • You can also do a simple search for a user or invite friends 
  • The Leaderboard is where we get competitive. This is where you compare how many points/challenges your friends and you’ve acquired. It doesn’t reset every week like Foursquare, so it’s an overall score.
  • Badges are acquired after reaching a certain status or completing a number of challenges. They are quite nicely illustrated.
  • Places will initially load all venues within your intimidate area. If a venue doesn’t show up you can do a search to add it.
  • Rewards incorporates offers and discounts from vendors.
  • Trek lists challenges for you to complete.
  • The Social Map screen displays a map, with pins of avatars showing recent activities, maximum of up to 24 hours. It shows both mine and friends’ activities.
  • According to SCVNGR.com “Over 550 business are currently paying customers of SCVNGR including museums, universities, and businesses, who use it for things like tours, orientations, and team-building exercises.”
  • SCVNGR also has the more traditional check-ins, the ability to snap and post pictures, and write a quick little review about a location, if you aren’t into challenges.

Cons

  • The only thing wrong with SCVNGR is that not all of my friends know about it.
  • You also can’t interact with the Facebook feed, but it’s at least nice to see where your friends have been to.

Smile factor

A check-in app with a fun twist. It gets me competitive with my friends, I enjoy beating them to a task.

The Verdict

It’s definitely fun and engaging, as I can compete with my friends. We do compare activities and the app constantly become a point of conversation. Now I just have to convince more friends to abandon foursquare for SCVNGR.

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2. Gogobot

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Unique Feature You can create and share online postcards with filters and text, like Instagram, but this app is tailored specifically for travel photos.The Gogobot App also allows users to access the trip plans that they’ve created on their Gogobot.com profiles, including maps, reviews and others.

FeaturesExplore • Share on Facebook and Twitter • Social Network • Plan trip • Postcard • Photos and preloaded filters • Follow friends.

Pros

  • Clean, intuitive, easy to use. Loads quickly.
  • You can create and share real-time digital postcards, find nearby restaurant, hotels and attractions to your current location, and access personalized trip plans.
  • Each postcard is added automatically to a user’s Gogobot Guide on the site.
  • You can navigate Gogobot by searching for places or things and see where a particular user has gone by navigating his or her passports. You can also, choose to discover either the top rated places or your friends’ recommendations.  
  • Lets you add friends from Facebook and Twitter, plus you can share your activities to your Facebook Timeline and/or Twitter feed.
  • Has “Explore” function to search by location and/or category
  • Users can rate and review the places they have been to.
  • The Gogobot App also allows users to access the trip plans that they’ve created on their Gogobot.com profiles, including maps, reviews and others.
  • Additionally, the ‘Nearby’ function lists the best restaurants, hotels and attractions automatically based on a user’s location, making it easy to find recommended places.

Cons

  • There are only 6 recommendations each time the app is launched, depending which friends’ activities are the latest.
  • Users can only see their friends’ recommendations, who you are following and who has Gogobot.
  • My friends are not using the app.

Smile factor

You can create and share online postcards with filters and text, like Instagram but tailored specifically for travel photos. You also acquire points as you share and interact with other members in the community. These points means you start off with a tourist and graduate as an expert, all documented in your “Passport.”

The Verdict

Gogobot is sort of like a Yelp for travel. It is all about big visuals and a social component thanks to tight Facebook (also Foursquare and other services) integration, which I really really like. I can see what my friends recommend, instead of asking them to recommend places to go to and check out. And instead of checking individual apps, toggling between Yelp, Foursquare and etc, I only need to check on Gogobot.

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3. SōSH

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Unique Feature Sōsh models its recommendations off of human behavior. So its less about what’s the closest nearby, and more about what is cool about a place, in the way that you’d explain it to a friend. For that, it pulls in expert commentary from magazines, websites and the social media. These 3 sentences translate to: Sōsh takes all the guesswork out of finding really interesting and awesome things to do nearby, all tightly curated. It’s already big in San Francisco and just recently launched in New York.

Features Bookmark it • Done it • Review • Search • Curated categories • Follow friends • Share on Facebook.

Pros

  • Clean, intuitive, easy to use. Loads quickly.
  • Has “Explore” function to search by location and/or category
  • Recommended places comes with beautiful pictures to browse from and through.
  • There’s a short introduction about the recommended place, with a “More” option, where you can read write-ups from reputable magazines.
  • Connects to a recommended place website, Yelp and Open Table (your pick), so you can find out more information, read reviews and make reservation. Also you can get its opening hours at a glance and location. You can also call to make a reservation or get directions.
  • Sosh also recommends similar places to the one you are viewing.
  • Categories can be filtered by time - This Week, Tonight, This Weekend and Anytime, also by neighborhoods, and other categories such as Date Night, Food & Dining, Good for Groups, Under $30, Nightlife, Get Active, Arts, Classes & Workshops, Sweet Treats.
  • The categories above are displayed on the Homescreen, giving you information at a quick glance.
  • Discovering the latest places is quick and easy.

Cons

  • None that I can see so far, except that it has the same name as another app that improves social skills for the autistic.
  • And the fact that I have only 2 friends who are using this app.

Smile factor

The best thing is that you can bookmark an item and add “done” and “loved it” buttons. I am always reading about a great new place in a magazine and then forgetting about it.

The Verdict

Not having as many friend who’s using the app doesn’t hinder me from accessing information. Although Sōsh doesn’t have the sass or personality as The Next Move by Urban Daddy, discovering all the new and exciting places is easy and quick. The recommendations are tightly curated too.

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4. SPOTSETTER

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Unique FeatureA Facebook account is required to login, the app’s recommendations are prepared and personalized, by pulling data from your social networks. It takes a while, but it gives you the confidence and/or illusion (your pick) that it is personalized. Here’s the really promising official description:

  1. Spotsetter provides personalized recommendations for places to go. "Where to go" is socially relevant and we help answer that through the vast amount of content your friends have already created across all social networks.
  2. These friends set the standard for the best spots and we call them Spotsetters. Not only do they explore all these great places, they also love to share opinions about them.
  3. Spotsetter helps you find these amazing spots and what your friends have to say about them. Find friendly tips, reviews, and photos about these places, no matter where they’ve been shared.

Features Fast map navigation • Integration with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare  • Bookmarks • Search • Browse friends’ activities

Pros

  • Clean, easy to use.
  • Home screen provides a quick glance at friends’ latest photos/places they’ve been to.
  • Recommendations are entirely based on your social network friends, from the places they have been to.
  • You can set up filters by time frame, who the posts are from (two categories: me or friends), and which social networks to pull data from.
  • I like that there’s the map view that shows friends facebook profile pictures in the “pins” dropped on locations. As I can quickly glance through which places and which friends have been to which places. From there I can delve deeper and see their comments and pictures.
  • Auto-complete tool helps you find all the places, friends, and things they’ve said.

Cons

  • There are only 4 recommendations, every time the app is launched, depending which friends’ activities are the latest.
  • You can’t choose which friends’ travel or places you’d want to feature.
  • There isn’t a pull down or refresh feature, which for me can be confusing. I’d want to constantly update the recommendations.
  • As of now, it seems that my featured recommendations are dominated by instagram users that I follow. I wonder what happen to my Facebook friends who constantly check-in.
  • There is no way to deactivate the networks in the app, you have to email to request for disconnection.
  • The map feature only works on one city, the more you zoom out, the less friends you will see.

Smile factor

Entirely friends’ recommendations and comments of a place.

The Verdict

I’m constantly wondering if the places displayed are the most up to date, but i love the map view, with little “faces” on it. Makes it easier too, to scan and find certain places. I don’t like the fact that I can’t automatically de-activate certain networks. As of now, it seems that my featured recommendations are dominated by instagram users that I follow. I wonder what happen to my Facebook friends who constantly check-in. I’d like to see more improvements in the app. I feel like I’ll get bored of it easily, though the premise and concept is brilliant.

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WHICH APP(S) AM I KEEPING?

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Is it of no surprise that I am only keeping The Next Move by UrbanDaddy, because of its entertainment, engagement and anticipation values? Besides I have confidence in the recommendations because of the app’s supposedly tightly curated places.

I am keeping Sōsh as I get the latest and cool ideas on what to do this weekend with a quick glance.

I am also keeping Scvngr. What can I say, I am competitive. This app gives my friends and I another activity to bond over.

I dropped Wallpaper City Guide, as like what my friend Young said, “If it’s interesting, I’ll read and remember it. To allow an app that you don’t use occupy the megabytes of the iPhone memory is a sin, especially if your goal is to discover and learn from as many apps as possible.”

Spotsetter has the most potential but I deleted it, as the UX irritates me because of lack of feedback and what happened to photos or recommendation from my Facebook friends? Having said that, I’ll redownload it if they are updated and improved. Hear that Spotsetter?

Gogobot had too much information for me, besides currently there are only 5 of my friends who have the app. I can’t benefit from that.

Phew! The end. Thanks for reading.