…and what you pay is nothing. While there are infinite ways to celebrate the unbeatable price of $0, the “That’s My Trip” travel app for Android is a quaint initiative for those with minimalistic phones or suffocating phone memory which pales in competition to veteran apps like Trip Journal (Android) and Track My Tour (iPhone/iPad). The brainchild of programmer Karol Kaczmarek and designer Luke Roth, That’s My Trip is a zero-calorie but functional collective for trip-related scribbles and photos, as well as a map to track the location of each post. Both Trip Journal and Track My Tour already do all of this, and do it significantly better. Yet in regards to accessibility, That’s My Trip is both free (Trip Journal is $2.99) and available on Google Play (Track My Tour is only available for Apple products).
The hallmark of all of these apps is their ability to “track” your posts and create a visual timeline of your travels that encapsulates your memories visually, textually, and chronologically – and helps you save face when relating that one time you fought off a polar bear in the Arctic to your friends but couldn’t remember exactly what longitude it occurred at…or something. Otherwise, the actual post format isn’t all that different from Instagram or Facebook, except that there doesn’t appear to be a character limit for diary posts on That’s My Trip. But who really wants to type a 5,000-character entry on a mobile device anyway? Fortunately, because it is so threadbare, it doesn’t consume much memory or disk space and ran quite snappily on my phone (it took about 6 seconds to load 6 posts with photos).
The rugged graphics, though Magellan-worthy, are considerably less sophisticated and clean than, say, those of most iProduct apps, and they lack the smoothness necessary to avoid making them appear distracting on smaller screens. In some instances, the overdone graphics even served to hinder the effectiveness of the posts – although displayed in the screenshots posted on the That’s My Trip blog as within the note space (a beige comment box offset from the cartographic background), on my phone the location and date were posted beneath the box, ever-so-inconveniently overlapping a dropshadow that partially obscured the grey text. And no, it doesn’t matter how long or short my post was or whether or not it included a photo. It’s also not possible to include both a photo and a caption together in one box; even if you post them at the same time, they show up as two separate posts, making it difficult to decipher whether a comment was actually supposed to be a caption.
It’s important to note that the app is still in beta testing, and I’m glad that it is, because there are still some cracks in its system that could use some caulking. First of all, the screen does not rotate for either typing posts or viewing them – a major boon to those of us (like myself) who have slider phones or who prefer to type horizontally on touch-screen phones. If I didn’t want to type long posts before, I definitely don’t want to now. When I tried to delete a post, the dialog box read “false” at the top. I’m not entirely sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it seems like a programming glitch. There doesn’t seem to be any point to the “trip description” as it does not display anywhere in your posts or on your trip menu. Moreover, there are also a few features whose purposes seem to be in limbo, such as the “On a Trip” button, which when selected merely takes me to my most recent diary entries. Alternatively, these entries can be selected with just one more selection from the trips menu, and the “On a Trip” button seems counterintuitive when it would make more sense for your recent trip entries to just automatically show up, rather than the post screen as default considering there’s already an easily-accessible “+” button on the home screen for adding new content. As for the usability of the map function, I can’t comment on it, because the map did not display on my screen at all whether or not I had GPS tracking enabled…which more or less made the whole app a complete bust.
It would also behoove the developers to consider more options before a final release. All security measures accounted for, it would be pleasant to at least have the option to stay logged in, as having to waste precious time re-entering my credentials when attempting to snap a once-in-a-lifetime shot of my proud mug from the tip of Everest before I start to hyperventilate would greatly detract from my posthumous legend status, and an option to search posts within trips would also help detectives pinpoint the exact location of my body after years of excess snowfall on the mountain. On the other hand, for the more zenlike traveler who takes time to ponder the little things in life abroad, options to preview and edit content would be optimal additions. Since the app is assumedly designed for travelers who may take extended trips, it would also be far more convenient if there were some way to archive posts so that the scrollbar on diary entries doesn’t disappear after carrying the weight of 20+ posts.
Although the app claims that you can “share your travel adventures,” where exactly the diary posts go remains a mystery. There are no options to connect to social media of any sort, which seems to suggest that your travel log remains viewable solely on your phone – an enormous limitation in a universe that tempts the demise of stationary data. With the omnipresence of apps that effortlessly contribute content from one end of the earth to another in seconds, an app that holds travel experiences prisoner behind a screen seems futile (and just plain cruel). The developers of the app themselves run a rather intriguing travel blog, but it doesn’t look like they used their own app to contribute to it (many of their posts contain embedded videos; the app does not allow for any kind of html or script). Perhaps the map feature allows for some sort of sharing, but as previously mentioned, I’m not at liberty to reflect on that. (To give my phone some credit, neither does the app description indicate that there is any shareability in any of the features.)
At this point in time, the That’s My Trip app is going to have to undergo some heavy remodeling if it hopes to be competitive in the Google Play market. Until then, vagabonds of the wallflowery kind can bask in the pure, uncluttered modesty of this inexpensive app and wait patiently for it to grow into something more.
Each Tuesday Tiffany Zappulla takes a look into the world of travel technology. Follow her as she explores everything from mobile phone apps to airport security to those funny little microchips in our passports. Subscribe to the Travel Tech Blog.