Skobbler, a Berlin-based start-up, said today that it has added a crowdsourced travel guide from Wikitravel and point-of-interest reviews from TripAdvisor to its OpenStreetMaps-powered mapping app for iOS, GPS Navigation.
This long overdue update to the paid app means that users can run local searches to learn out about relevant attractions, as parsed by Wikitravel and TripAdvisor users. In other words, travelers can now find user-generated answers to questions like "Which temple nearby is most photogenic?" and "Which Thai restaurant has the best ratings nearby?"
The user-generated entries are, like the maps, available offline after having been downloaded. Many travelers prefer offline maps, to avoid being hit by data-roaming fees from telecoms.
The app also has a new map engine, which claims to allow a higher level of detail in the presentation and a speed increase compared to the previous version.
OpenStreetMap is the “Wikipedia of maps", or a user-generated effort that’s creating publicly editable maps. Wikitravel is on the rebound after an ownership change.
The addition of user-generated enhancements dovetails with the overall rise of location-based apps that aim to provide context to users, a trend that co-founder of Skobbler Marcus Thielking has written about for Tnooz before.
A challenge to the Mountain View approach
The navi app is the latest creation from Skobbler, which claims 3.5 million downloads for its suite of apps since 2008 and "number-one ranking positions for downloads in 20 App Stores worldwide."
Skobbler that has long attempted to challenge Google at mobile mapping.
Google may respond by increasing its own crowd-sourcing efforts. Google Maps has included layers for Wikipedia entries on its Android app, though not for Wikitravel entries. It also recently acquired Waze.
Skobbler is betting that user-generated content can beat paid-for, top-down corporate mapping on both cost and comprehensiveness. The company points out that it's expensive for companies like Google to send out paid workers in high-tech vehicles to map the world. For crowdsourced map platforms, scaling isn't a problem.
As a side note, Skobbler's PR team is encouraging talk that the company would make a enticing acquisition by a larger entity, given that it has what it considers to be the most sophisticated map engine for mobile devices on the market. The engine enables a user to zoom in and out and turn the map without juddering or reloading.
Skobbler's founder on the future of mobile maps