Nativoo (free app for iPhone/iPad) is the latest entrant I’ve discovered in the never-ending quest to invent a technology that will plan an entire trip for you.
The idea is that you select options from various menus, and the Website (or in this case, the smartphone/tablet app) books your room and plans your sightseeing activities.
But how well does Nativoo perform this daunting task?
When you first launch the app, you’ll be asked to either sign in with your Facebook account, or register a separate Nativoo account. (I chose the former.)
Then you’ll be asked to either “Choose your destination” or, if you let the app know your current location, pick “Closest destination to you [San Francisco, in my case].”
When I selected “Closest destination to you [San Francisco],” I was given these options (which you’ll also get if you select “Choose your destination”):
- “Create a full trip”
- “Create a quick trip”
- Four “Most viewed trips – San Francisco” that were 1-3 days long.
“Most Viewed Trip”
I decided to see what the itinerary would like like for a three-day “Most viewed trip” entitled (in Portuguese; the app’s developer is Brazilian) “Os mais vistados.”
- Day 1 listed seven tourist attractions, giving the distance (in kilometers) to each.
- Clicking on “Day 2” or “Day 3” produced lists of different attractions.
- Hitting “Add Attraction” gave me a list of yet more places to see.
- I could “Favorite” or “Remove” attractions from the list for each day.
- But there was neither rhyme nor reason for how these attractions were grouped together on any day, and I know from living in the area for over 40 years that it isn’t possible to visit more than 2-3 of the attractions in any single day. Unfortunately, the Nativoo app doesn’t have a feature that lets you plan the most efficient way to see the ones that you do “Favorite,” nor to easily switch the days on which you would visit specific attractions.
- When I asked for directions by bus, the app list bus routes, but neither schedules nor fares.
- Clicking on “Car” produced a route map, but no driving directions. The same was true of “Walking.”
- But because I was viewing a trip someone else had taken in the past, and had allowed the app to know my current location, the directions to attractions were given from my home twenty-miles from San Francisco, not from a hotel where I might be lodging in San Francisco.
- Hitting a “Replan” button allowed me to customize the “Most viewed trip” by favoriting and removing attractions, and then saving the trip to a name I specified.
Creating Your Own Trip
Nativoo looked to be more useful if one “created” a trip “from scratch” rather trying to customize on the app’s “Most viewed trips.”
If you “Create A Full Trip” the app will:
- Ask for the starting date of your trip.
- Ask you for the number of days (1-8) the trip will last.
- Let you pick a hotel (listings include overall description, facilities, lowest price, link to hotel Website, reviews, and in-app booking).
- Hotels can be selected by “District” or from a map, and arranged in order based on “Distance” (from a specified landmark), “Popular,” “Rating,” “Price, “ or “Name.”
- Attractions and things to do can also be selected by “District”, “Category” (e.g., “Museums and Libraries,” “Shopping”), and ordered by everything but price.
- The app then asks you “What kind of trip?” you want to take: “Romantic,” “Family,” “Adventure,” “Cultural,” “Just relax,” or “Best of” and to set the “Trip Intensity” (the default is “I want to see a good bit of the city.”).
- Then hit the “Create trip” button and Nativoo will prepare a detailed itinerary.
- “Create quick trip” will provide a list of suggested attractions to see on a one-day visit.
Unlike an app like Google Maps, you can’t enter just any destination in Nativoo. You are limited to the twenty-five cities, a few in the U.S., some in Europe, and others in South America, listed in the app.
“Exploring” A Location
Tapping the “Explore” button at the bottom of the app’s screen brings up categories such as “Restaurants,” “Things to Do,” “Tours and Activities,” and “Places to stay” for the city that you have selected. But I couldn’t figure out how to add them to a “Trip.”
Hotels, restaurants, attractions and activities are rated using a 1-5 star system, often with links to Foursquare reviews.
Phone numbers and Website links are provided, along with hours or operation if applicable and, if there is a cost, it will be stated as “Less than” or “From” an amount in dollars.
Technical Problems Beyond Your Control
Nativoo works on an iPad, but only in vertical (portrait) orientation. The app won’t rotate to horizontal (landscape) orientation, which could be a problem if you have your iPad positioned that way in a cover or keyboard case.
When My iPad was sitting vertically on-end in the slot in my Logitech Bluetooth keyboard, it frequently fell off the keyboard when I tapped on the Nativoo app’s screen. Fortunately, the iPad wasn’t damaged when it landed back-down on my desk.
Although you can click on a hypertext link for a place listed in the Nativoo app, that Website will display in vertical orientation. So Websites that have not been “optimized” for viewing on mobile devices could be hard to view with the iPad in vertical orientation.
Trip “Saving” Doesn’t Work
Although I thought I had “saved” three different trips that I had created, the app inexplicitly didn’t save any of them.
You can post a link to a “Trip” on Facebook. And while the link to the first trip I created was posted to my Facebook Timeline, when I clicked on the link to it in Facebook I got an error message indicating that the trip had not actually been saved to my Nativoo account.
And The Envelope, Please!
Sorry, Nativoo. Your performance “bombed,” and I won’t be giving you the Oscar for “Best Trip Planning App” this year.