News that Google would soon begin testing a new mobile travel application leaked out in April and TechCrunch were quick to cover it.
The app, called Trips, is being trialled with a small group of testers, and will allow users to keep track of past and upcoming trips, while also making recommendations about tourist destinations, restaurants, local transportation options, and more. Access to the Trips mobile app is only being made available to members of Google’s Local Guides program. A revamp and rebranding of Google’s prior City Experts effort, Local Guides launched last year as Google Maps’ competitor to Yelp’s Elites.
As with Yelp, program members are offered a variety of rewards and benefits in exchange for writing business reviews, posting photos, and helping to fill in and correct Maps information. One of those benefits, as Google previously indicated, is early access to new Google products and features. This appears to be one example of that perk in action. According to the initial leak, Local Guides were invited to be among the first to try a new “travel assistant app for Android and iPhone.”
That makes it slightly competitive with TripIt, which has the larger goal of helping to automate collection of your trips into a single interface, then provide useful services on top of that, like tracking points, getting flight alerts, setting reminders, changing seat selections, sharing trips with others, and more.
However, in the case of the Google Trips app, it seems the focus is less on mimicking the somewhat utilitarian nature of most travel planners and companion apps, and more on the fun that comes with exploring a new destination.
As an app built using Google Maps data, Trips lets you find things to do – both inside and outdoors – around your location. It also helps you manage reservations, find nearby food and drink, access a list of saved places, and plan how you’ll get from one place to the next.
For this reason, Trips would likely have more of an impact on local travel guide apps, instead of more comprehensive trip planners.
This latter feature is found in the “Getting Around’ section, which offers details on the different options, including public transportation schedules for things like buses and trains, plus information on taxis and ride sharing services and more.
Also useful is that Trips allows you to browse your saved trip information even when you’re offline.
Much of what Trips offers can actually be found in Google Maps, thanks to the enhancements of that app over the years to offer more information than just maps and navigation. However, the Trips app puts this information into a standalone, native interface complete with a Material design and easy-to-use layout.
While the app being tested is available on Android, Google had said that it would be available on iOS, as well. The company has not yet confirmed further details about the app or its launch plans.
When asked, a Google spokesperson only provided this comment on the Trips app:
“We love to travel and are hard at work dreaming up new ways to make the travel experience hassle-free. While we do that, sit tight and keep on using our amazing tools like Google Flights, Hotel Search and Destinations on Google to plan your next adventure.”