What would you pay for a totally comprehensive travel app? Something with packing lists, offline maps of your destinations, suggestions for what to see and do when you arrive, as well as an organized space to save your itineraries? I’d fork over several dollars at least. Most travel apps don’t even attempt to cover everything because there’s just too much to do it all well, and instead specialize in one or two areas only, as GateGuru (free, 4 stars) does with airline seat assignment and airport navigation or Packing Pro ($2.99, 3 stars) does with pre-planning and packing. TripRider ($4.99) goes for the whole enchilada, and bites off well more than this little iPhone app can chew. What results is an app that shows you all the categories related to traveling, like budgets and must-see lists, but delivers none of the content. Worse, anything you might expect to find within one of those categories is most definitely not there. Everything—and I mean everything—must be entered manually.
TripRider starts by having you create a trip. Simple enough. Give it a name, list the countries you’ll visit, and note the days you’ll be gone. You can create a profile for other travelers and include them in your itinerary, too.
The experience goes sour rather quickly from there.
The app has no content to offer, no interactive maps, no site-seeing suggestions, no “forward your itinerary emails to this address to have them automatically included” features. If you want maps, you must take screenshots and attach the static images. If you want your itineraries, you must type them in by hand.
The interactive design suffers from painfully amateur decisions. For example, say you create a packing list for a trip by manually typing in everything you need to pack. No sample lists or suggestions are included, although oddly, categories of items, like “clothes” and “documents” are. So you type your lists, fumbling between pages as you switch between the nine categories, and eventually get it in order. When it’s time to pack, you cannot simply check off the items. You must first go to the category page for each sub-list, and even, you must still hit another button for “pack” before the tick boxes become visible.
The lack of included content at first seemed only a nuisance, but became more frustrating and off-putting as I used TripRider. The currency section of the app left me not only fed up, but slack jawed as well. You can select a base currency from the only real database I found in TripRider, then select more currencies you’ll use while traveling. Want to convert a price? Well, hopefully you’ve looked up and exchange rate and entered it into the app manually, as that’s the only way you’ll know how much something costs. This lack of automation is inconvenient for travelers, as well as extremely prone to errors.
And here’s another poor design decision: When you add the base currency, there’s no way to close out of the number pad except to hit Cancel, as hitting Save (the button you’d assume you’d want) brings you back to the main menu.
Perhaps the most egregious problem has to do with security. TripRider has sections where you can upload a photo of your passport and store credit card details, I guess in case you lose them, but the app has no security or encryption, not even an optional passcode lock.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an all-in-one travel app, and perhaps that’s for a good reason, as TripRider for iPhone shows. Traveling encompasses too many different kinds of information to include them all in one place and do any one of them justice. TripIt (for iPhone) may handle your itineraries well, but you’ll have to manage your sightseeing and offline maps with a travel guide app, such as City Guides, Offline Maps (free, 3.5 stars) by Stay.com.
Don’t try to jam it all into one place, and use the apps that do the job well for the two or three components that you need. You’ll still likely spend less than $5.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc