Made in Dubai: the smart app tour guide

The app currently offers tours for 78 historical sites in 25 countries, which can be accessed without an internet network once downloaded.
The app has tours for 78 monuments for now. Reem Mohammed / The National
The app has tours for 78 monuments for now. Reem Mohammed / The National

The Dubai-based travel technology start-up Guiddoo was set up last year as a smartphone alternative to expensive tour guides and travel books for leisure travellers.

Entrepreneurs Nidhi Varma and Vineet Budki have now launched the Guiddoo app, that allows travellers to download tours, maps, images, textual and audio information about sites – from the Taj Mahal and the Colosseum to Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. The content is collated from registered tour guides, online sources such as YouTube and through collaborations with tourism boards.

The app currently offers tours for 78 historical sites in 25 countries, which can be accessed without an internet network once downloaded. An upgraded version, to be launched on Monday, includes new destinations and tourist spots, allowing for in-app booking of activities, hotels and a 24-hour help service. In the future, they plan to develop services with Google Glass and Oculus.

After downloading the app from Apple and Android stores, users can access free features with their social-networking accounts or through Google. For now, audio tours to all destinations can be downloaded for a one-time fee of Dh7. The creators will revise the payment model, bumping up the cost of each destination to about Dh18 in the new version.

The app currently offers two components: the walking tours and basic trip-planning information. Selecting a monument will unlock audio and HD-video capsules, a site map, timeline, history and trivia.

The app brings together various internet sources, which can be accessed even if you’re struggling with the network in a foreign country. The trivia section is compelling for young travellers. For example, under Petra, users will find titbits about the shooting of Transformers and ­Indiana Jones.

When I tried the app, the audio and video features of some monuments, including the Tower of London and the Fountains of Bellagio, took time to load. When they did, there was a clear explanation of the significance and a brief history of the destination. The app can be used as a personal journal. Users can record their experience, take photos, upload them on social media and post reviews. Information such as the weather, operation hours and ticket prices, can be viewed, too.

This is a handy app for concise information during the pre-planning phase of a trip. However, the abridged tour guide, with a two-minute audio introduction and virtual videos, can’t replace the range of topics a human tour guide can cover. Not yet, anyway.

Visit www.guiddoo.com

aahmed@thenational.ae

Published: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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