Dots

It all started with a nice review about our Luxembourg guide on Finding the Universe. One of the points in the review was that we could the maps clearer. Especially the fact that when you are zoomed out you don't realize there is a lot more to see when you zoom in. The idea of showing small dots came up right there, right then.

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.

One million

We are proud to announce that we have reached one million downloads. With over 600,000 iOS apps downloaded and 400,000 downloads from Android devices, we have a pretty good presence in both markets. But even though we're darn proud of this, we will stay composed and cool and keep on working to improve our apps. 10,000,000 is the next big, round number. And that's still a long way to go.

Checking in

Yesterday, we explained in some detail how suggestions work in the new version of our app. Today, let's have a look at another new feature: check ins.

Since we started, we've always wanted our users to be able to record their trips. So the check in functionality we built is not about badges or showing your friends that you hang out in really cool places. It's about recording your trip while you travel. You visit a sight, you take a picture and a little not and you store it. And you don't need an Internet connection to do it. You can check in when you are offline and sync your pictures and check ins when you find a wifi spot. At the end of your trip you have an easy way of showing where you went.

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!

Suggestions!

A new version of our Triposo World app has hit the Appstore. If you've downloaded it already you'll have noticed it looks considerably better than before. For a large part this is thanks to Les Kleuver who has joined our team as VP of UI. But the new version is about more than just its good looks. Its got some great new functionality as well. Lets have a look at what it does and how it works. I'm in San Francisco now and I'm writing this at 7:54 AM. I open the San Francisco guide and click suggestions. And because it's still quite early in the morning it starts with a suggestion for a breakfast place.
Looks like a nice place, actually. Next, I get some advice for sightseeing. Suggestions takes the current weather into account and compares it to the forecast for tomorrow. Today, its not really nice. Foggy and raining - but tomorrow is looking much better.
So right now, suggestions for sightseeing start with a museum. The Golden Gate bridge and a little trip to Alcatraz can wait until tomorrow.
Other things suggestions looks at are your location (we rank things that are close by higher) and the opening hours. We try to suggest only places that are open. It takes a lot of work figuring out all the opening hours of all the points of interest we have, but we think it's worth it. You don't want to be sent to a museum on the day its closed. We'll be tweaking the suggestions bit a lot the coming months to make it even better. My first experiences so far indicate that we will want to boost places that are nearby quite a bit more than we currently do. If you have ideas to make the algorithm better, drop us a line and let us know.

Charting

The Triposo World app is top 25 of all free travel apps in a number of countries - and top 1 in the Netherlands!

Our press release

When our app hit the app store I sent out a few mails to people I know who might want to do a review about, then to some people that had written about us before, and then to some people I had actually never spoken, but was just hoping that they'd pick up on the story. Then I had another look at Presskings.com - a service I considered earlier to send out press releases, but since then they had changed their model considerably. And I must say: I am impressed. It's easy to set up a press release and you get 100 credits for free so you can send it to 100 people from their database of journalists. And they have some pretty good tools to select people that may be interested in your story. It just experimented a bit now and just sent out a few mails. But will use it agaian when we have more news! So well done: PressKings!

The world in your hands

This is a big moment: our World Travel Guide for iPhone and iPad is ready for sale, as the people from Apple call it. Well, it's free, really.
We're proud of it. With just this app on your iPhone or iPad you can travel anywhere and never be lost again, you will always know where you should go to eat or grab a beer, you'll always be able to find a place to crash at night. Okay, before you set off on your trip you need to download the guide to the destination you're headed for. It's free, and it works offline. Personally, I think the app is best appreciated on an iPad. I love just roaming over the world map, downloading guides of countries I may never visit and then zoom into the main cities and pick a restaurant to eat, some sights to see and a bar to hang out. So go ahead: download it and let us know what you think!

My wife is a French bistro

A while ago Jon wrote an interesting blog post about how you can guess the cuisine of a restaurant just by looking at the name:

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.

Last day of the Jamboree

We're packing. The Jamboree is over. We got a lot done in the past few weeks. We introduced vector based maps in both our Android and iOS apps. We had a party for which we invited our users from our app we launched a real Triposo World Guide for Android and we launched our Triposo Labs. And then last night, we were Techcrunched with the website going offline for a while and all. And we had a lot of fun and quite some beers as well.

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.

Vector in iOS

The past few days we have updated some of our iOS apps with vector maps. We're still working on making them better and faster, so stay tuned!

Triposo Labs

For the readers of Douwe's Blog this is old news, so this is for everybody else. We've just launched a new feature on our site, called Triposo Labs. It's a place where we put interesting experiments. In Douwe's words:

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!

The world is your Oyster (2)

A few weeks ago we launched the “Triposo Travel Guide” for Android: a container travel guide in which you can choose which destinations you want to download and then take it with you just like you do with all the destination guides we have.
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.

How we do it

Over the last few weeks we have been very busy with the Jamboree. Thinking about exciting new things, making them and then launching them.
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.

Party time!

Just launched new version of our Amsterdam App in the market. Wait! Another new version of the Amsterdam App in the market?

Yes, indeed. But there's a good reason to update this time. The new version contains an invitation to the first Triposo party ever. Everytime we will have a jamboree somewhere in the world we'll throw a little party and invite all the travelers that happen to be around.



We're not telling you where it is (just that it's in Amsterdam), you will have to download the Android app for Amsterdam (or the one for the Netherlands).

So what about iPhone? No sorry, we didn't make it in time. So this time there will be no iPhone users on our party. Our loss because iPhone people tend to be very nice and friendly. Good looking too.

We didn't build the new version only to invite people for this party. We like being able to contact our users while they travel and interact with them. So we set up the invitation feature in a way that we can use it in the future for lots of other fun stuff.

Vector maps


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!

A cute yellow bird

We've just uploaded two canaries with our new mapping stuff to the App store. We love it and we hope to hear from you what you think about 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...

Mapping tech talk


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.


The mapping stuff Vincent is busy working on, made us go wow - and will make you go wow pretty soon as well, when we launch a few canaries which use the new maps.

Eating out in Erfoud

We combine data from a number of open content sources to produce our guides. It's amazing to see how good the information us that you can find on wikipedia, world66, wikitravel or openstreetmap. So we're always busy trying to optimize our data extraction process: get fresh data, try to match different sources better, make the scoring better. We optimize the scripts that produce our database and we get a new dataset.

We have a number of tests to see if that new dataset is any good, but I like to browse through it by hand just to see how we are doing. Today I had a look at some place in Morocco I know quite well. One of them is Erfoud. It's a small town very close to the sand dunes. Nothing much to do there, besides renting a jeep that takes you to the dunes.

In the new dataset, we have a pretty nice Erfoud guide. There's even a nightlife section. It has one place: a bar where you can get fresh orange juice, and that's how I remember the nightlife of this desert town. And there's a bunch of places to go eating out.

The top spot is taken by...

The snail street vendor. There are street vendors offering snails all over Morocco. I'm not much of a snail eater myself, but apparently this one does a great job making snail snacks. We even have the guys location:

Day one of the Jamboree


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!


We're closed

Today we announce that we've closed a seed round.
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.

A rip and a skip and a roar!

Triposo is a distributed company - we're four guys and so far we have never been in the same continent at the same time since we started. But soon this will change. Next Monday our first Jamboree will start. Being a distributed company is great but every distributed company needs to get together with the team every now and then. Although we have never been boyscouts, we've come to call these gatherings or meetups Jamborees.

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.

The world is your oyster


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.

By train across the United States

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

Going country

We're busy releasing a series of country guides in the Android Market. New Zealand was uploaded last week. Yesterday we added Austria, Poland and Switzerland. Today seven new ones: Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Ireland, The Netherlands, Spain and Thailand.
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.

Douwe's Tryptych

On his blog one of our founders, Douwe wrote three great articles on why he left Google to found Triposo.

Part one: why not to leave Google
Part two: why to leave Google
Part three: why Triposo

It's good reading!

Last to be discovered, first in the Market

New Zealand was the last land mass on earth to be discovered, making New Zealand the youngest country on earth, but it's the first country guide we're launching in the Market!

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!

The dive

Until now, Triposo has been just a project on the side for Douwe and me. But today we're taking the dive: Douwe is leaving Google, I'm leaving Oberon.

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.

Welcome back Zurich

One of the first guides we published was our Zurich guide. It was like a first try and not all the reviews were positive. The design was compared to that of a website from the mid nineties. We've come a long way since. Our guides look like apps, and work like apps and are getting great reviews from users.
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!

iPhone Guides and Android Updates

We've launched three of our guides for iPhone as well. So far they're just for iPhones, but we're doing internal beta tests for a universal App that will work as well on the iPad. We love the way they are looking right now, and we expect that you will do. Here is a sneak preview:





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.