We have a big to-do list, because we come up with plans and ideas faster than we can implement them, but we wanted to give this idea a place on it. It took about two months to become top of the list and then a few days to implement, but here we are: the new version of our Android apps has little dots:
We hope you like them. If you do, let us know and we'll start implementing them on iOS as well.
We're not quite done with this last part. We're busy designing a great site where you will be able to relive your trips. But you don’t need to wait. If you download our app you can start recording your trip right away. We’ll make sure those check ins end up in your profile later on. So you can start recording your trips now!
At Triposo we have a database of restaurants that we've collected from various open content sources. When we display this list in our mobile travel guides one of the key pieces of information for our users is what cuisine the restaurant has. We often have this available but not all the time. Sometimes you can guess the cuisine just by looking at the name:
"Sea Palace" - probably chinese. "Bavarian Biercafe" - probably german. "Athena" - probably greek.
So based on the technology Jon describes, we created a little interactive feature in our Labs section where you can fill in any restaurant name and see what cuisine it would most likely be. We call it the cuisine guesser. You can type in your own name (I'm an American diner, my wife is a little French bistro), your favorite singer (Shakira does Sushi) or finally find out what they will be serving in the restaurant at the end of the Universe. As the logo below suggests it's American.
Obviously, the mechanism works best if you use real restaurant names and not people's name. It's actually kinda fun we think to just type in restaurant names and see what happens. We think It's most fun if you set yourself some sort of target.
Here are a few challenges we like:
- What is the name of the quintessential Chinese restaurant?
You're allowed to use three words only. The score to beat is 11.12 which is the score of "Golden Dragon"
- Can you find a restaurant name that scores well both on vegetarian and on bbq?
You're allowed to use four words here. So far I have not been able to come up with something better than "Vegan Salad BBQ" scoring just over 4 on bbq and under 2 for vegetarian, so I guess there is room for improvement there.
- Can you find a restaurant that scores high on eclectic?
The best I could do was "Djanidjan" which has a score of just 2. But I'm afraid it's not really a restaurant name but just a made up word.
The coming weeks we will be working as a distributed team again. We know we can get a lot of stuff done that way too. But we're already looking forward to the next Jamboree. This time it should be some place sunny, because the one thing we can't be happy with for this Jamboree was the weather. It was terrible. Really terrible.
We collect data from all over the web and use clever algorithms to produce travel guides. Obviously before we get something working we play around a lot with that data. Quite often we hit upon something that is interesting, but maybe not immediately applicable, but if they make us go, ooh, that's cool, why not share it with the world?
The first experiment we're publishing, tracks the development of the wikipedia on a world map.
Each geocoded article is plotted in order of appearance showing how the Wikipedia initially focussed on the US and partly on Europe and later spread to cover the world. There are some interesting things you can see if you watch the visualization of the data. Which countries adopted Wikipedia first? Which countries are still lagging behind? And why does this region in Uzbekistan light up before the rest of Asia? And there is actually also some stuff we can actually use to make our algorithm better.
Check it out!
At that time, we didn’t call it a world guide, because in the app you could only download 50 different guides. That wasn't enough to call it a world guide, we felt.
Step by step we’ve been adding new destinations. Places like New York City, Moldova and Tanzania. In the process we found that different places pose different challenges: it was pretty hard squeezing good info out of our sources for Moldova – it is equally hard keeping the file size of our United States guide down to under 100 MB.
So we had to crack a few tough nuts. The Moldova contains a fair number of bars with just minimal info and where we invite travelers who visit them to drop us a few lines when they make it there. For the United States have to leave out some cities where we have perfectly fine content just to keep the file size down. Tough luck for Topeka.
We don’t cover every single destination yet. We're still working on reducing the file size of the United States further (but we already offer separate downloads for major cities). We also had to leave out the guide to Anguilla for example because it had too little information. There are a few other issues that we'll solve in the coming days. When you download the world guide you will see the remaining countries popping in one by one. So even though there are still places missing, we believe that the best way to describe our app is as the Triposo World Guide.
That’s what we’ll call it from now on. We’ve just logged into the Android Market and made the name change. So it’s official: Triposo World Guide. Has a nice ring to it, we think. Makes us feel happy. Happy and proud.
On this blog, we’ve also focused so much on the new stuff we were busy doing, that we didn't give really have time to update some of the important background info. Like how we actually make our guides.
Today, we took a little time to update the How we do it section on our website.
This morning we launched an update of our Amsterdam guide that uses vector maps. We're pretty proud of it already, but we will continue to smooth out the rough edges. The great things with the vector maps is that they show more detail, and take up less space.
Just for fun I looked up a (pretty) old screenshot of our map and compared it to our current. It's not 100% fair given that the old screenshot shows an overview and the new one is zoomed in on one of our favorite bars, but it still gives you an idea of how far we've come...
For all our iOS users: we're working on it!
As things go with canaries, we still have a few things that we want to improve on. We're also still working on an Android version that uses the same maps. Taking the time Apple requires for reviewing apps into account, the Android version may still be the first in the market...
Today, Vincent gave us a tech talk to explain what he's been up to lately. The talk was very insightful, we heard lots of interesting details on Mapnik, PostGIS, GSHHS, nodes, relations and ways in the Openstreetmap. At the end we all felt like little Mercators.
Sunny weather, a stately canal house in the centre of Amsterdam, 6 iPhones, 5 Macbooks, 4 ipads, 3 Galaxy S, 2 huge screens and 1 Yarvik: we're ready to rumble on day one of our Jamboree!
We started with a brainstorm to get in the mood. Jon got us all to share the most crazy ideas and then we voted to get just the 5 ideas that we really wanted to work on. And now: it's time to work!
It's great of course to have some money in the bank with which we can build the things we've dreamed up, but we're particularly happy with the people we'll be working with. We have a great bench of angels with a few xooglers, but also people with great links to Twitter and Facebook and some guys from completely different backgrounds who bring new insights and a down to earth approach to the table. We're excited and proud! Among the names that may ring a bell are Chris Sacca, Taher Haveliwalla and InterWest Partners.
Our first Jamboree is in Amsterdam and it's starting next Monday. With a little help from our friends at AirBNB we've managed to all find a place to crash at night for the coming weeks. We'll be working hard to release new versions of our guides with new great features - and to dream up more wonderful things that we'll be working on after the Jamboree.
Needless to say, we're all very excited. In the words of poet Robert Service:
They are all a-glee for the jamboree, and they make the Landing ring
With a whoop and a whirl, and a “Grab your girl”, and a rip and a skip and a roar.
We have over 50 apps and we like to think that they're all pretty good. But when you travel you don't want to have an app for every city you'll be visiting on your phone. So that's why we started making country guides, but we realize that we can till do better: one app to rule them all. The world app.
Today we uploaded our first attempt of making a world guide to the Android Market. It's not perfect yet, but you can give it a spin and let us know what you think.
Strictly speaking it's not a world app yet. We haven't made guides for every country yet, but in it you will find some 30 different destinations and once we add new ones they will appear in the list automatically.
Douwe has just written a blog post about his journey by train across the United States. With his wife he travelled over 3300 miles from San Francisco. His blog post is not just about the views, but also about Triposo:
Another great thing are the lounge cars where you sit and do a little coding on your laptop while enjoying the amazing scenery of the Rocky Mountains and the slightly less exciting Great Plains. And every time the train slowly rolled into the station of a city we'd like to visit, I would build a Triposo Travel Guide and put it on my phone.
Douwe explains what he finds out while using our guides during his trip. Read more on Douwe's blog
Some more will follow the next few days.
The country guides cover the most important destinations. For the major cities they have complete city guides, with all the sights, places to drink and to eat and of course an offline map. For small cities and national parks they have concise guides that focus on what's really important. We've also included phrasebooks for the languages spoken in the country. Spain is shipped with four language guides: Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galician.
In order to keep the files size of our guides acceptable, we had to leave out stuff: in some cases we left out maps for cities of secondary importance, but sometimes we dropped an entire destination. And even after those tough calls our Netherlands guide is only just under 50 MB (the maximum for Android) and guides for countries like Germany and France are just too big. We'll come up with a solution for this issue, but meanwhile we will focussing on smaller countries. There are enough of those to keep us occupied for some time.
I just uploaded New_Zealand.apk to the Android Market. It's our first country guide so it may still have a few rough edges. We'll be very busy polishing them the next few days. If you want to help us, download the guide and tell us about the things you didn't like!
And we will not be alone at Triposo. Jon Tirsen is another Googler who thinks we're onto something great. And Vincent is another Oberoner joining us. That makes four guys now, committed full time. What can you expect from us?
We will focus on making a world wide travel guide for mobile devices. We aggregate open content from a number of sources and use a clever algorithm to decide what is relevant for you. Wherever you are Triposo will tell you where to go and what to do. We've made a bunch of city guides for iOS and Android based on this approach already and they work pretty well. One of the great things is that they store all the content including the maps on your phone.
We're busy now making complete country guides so we can basically cover the whole planet. Then we'll start adding new functionality to make them even better.
During all of this we'll try and use this blog to share what we're up to. So stay tuned.
Except for Zurich. Somewhere along the road when we change the internal naming of our destinations, we had a small problem with Zurich. It became ZC3CBrich or something.
So while we upgraded all our guides from 0.25 to 0.3, and from there step by step to 0.9, Zurich (or should we say ZC3CBrich) lagged behind. It was still at 0.25.
Today we uploaded the new version. Zurich is back with the rest. Hurray! Welcome back Zuri!
On the Android side: we've uploaded new versions 0.87 for all our Apps and we are working on new version that will include a map for the cities around, as well as more interactive features. Stay tuned.