Inkling, the interactive digital publishing company, started out with textbooks on the iPad, then moved into consumer titles with its ProChef cookbook, and now has partnered with Frommer’s to publish iOS travel guides.
The first seven guides (for Japan, France, Spain, Great Britain, Costa Rica, California and Alaska) are available on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
“Frommer’s has so much high-quality content, it’s a good mutual fit with us,” said Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling. “And the photography is a big part of this. There are thousands of high-res photos Frommer’s commissioned, many of which were not used in the print editions. Here, they can be added into the digital version at no additional cost.”
For those of us accustomed to traveling with dog-eared books stuffed into a backpack or briefcase, these new digital guides come as a revelation.
They have a weather widget built in, with the current weather conditions and four-day forecast for any city you might visit. There is access to Wikipedia, Google and relevant websites.
There are separate map overlays with hotels, restaurants and attractions for each venue.
Plus, there are the latest news updates from on the scene sources. “We issue free content updates in real-time in case there is something you should know about when visiting,” said MacInnis.
The Japanese guide has Kanji titles next to the English, so you can get help from locals finding an attraction.
The French guide has recorded translations for making your tourist phrases more likely to be understood (except, of course, in Paris.)
There is also, as with all Inkling titles, the ability to make your own notes and engage in conversations with other travelers as well as with the authors of the Frommer’s guides.
MacInnis notes this represents a “hybrid” of the crowd-sourced and trip adviser models for travel guides.
Inkling is expanding to the web in June. MacInnis envisions a pattern whereby travelers will do the initial research for their trip on computers, share what they find via the iPad and then primarily depend on their iPhone when they are actually traveling.
The initial seven guides (many more will follow) are priced from $9.99 to $14.99 each.