We’ve all been there: on vacation in a new and exciting city, only there’s much more to do in the city than you’ve got time for. Whether it’s Rome, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, most of the best cities to visit have fare more than you can do in a single day – or a single weekend. On trips like that, you have to make sure to manage your time well. Take too long at the Statue of Liberty and you’ll lose your chance to go up into the Empire State Building. Spend too long trying to find the Trevi Fountain and you’ll never make it to the Colosseum before it closes at dark.
A smartphone can help take some of the stress out of visiting such cities. After all, you’re carrying a map of pretty much every place in the world in your pocket, and there are dozens upon dozens of apps designed to help tourists find what they’re looking for. What most of these apps don’t help you with, though, is time management. They may tell you how long it will take you to get from Chicago’s
Sears Willis Tower to the Adler Planetarium, but they don’t tell you much about how long it will take you at the Planetarium.
That’s where the new TimeTraveler app from Yahoo! comes in. Unfortunately, TimeTraveler doesn’t quite do what the name implies: if you were expecting an app that turned your phone into the TARDIS, I’m afraid you’ll have to keep looking. No, what TimeTraveler does is help you plan your trek through a city by showing all the points of interest on a map, then telling you how long it will take you at each place.
When you open up the app you’re presented with a selection of 29 of the most famous cities in the world. We’ll use Boston as an example, since that’s one of my favorite cities to visit:
Once you’ve picked your city, you set a start point, an end point, and the amount of time you have. Let’s say you’ve just finished lunch at Cheers (which is right across the street from Boston Common), and you want to make it to Fenway Park for an evening baseball game. You want to be there in plenty of time to get your beer and your hot dog and get to your seat by the time the game starts, so you give yourself 5 hours:
Once you put in all the details, TimeTraveler plots your route and picks attractions along the way that you can do in the amount of time you’ve allotted. Once it’s done, it shows them to you in a handy list:
If you tap the round icon at the bottom, you’re can check out a map that shows your start point, end point, and the attractions TimeTraveler has picked for you. You can also identify other points of interest along the way, including restaurants and hotels. You can also see pictures that others have taken of attractions in your area.
From the list view, tapping on any of the attractions on your route brings up a card that shows some basic details of the attraction. Details include business hours, location, and some information about why the place you’re going is famous. Of course, business hours are subject to change, and the owners are under no obligation to inform Yahoo! when that happens, so you should always double-check the hours of any place you plan to visit.
Though I have not, like Johnny Cash, been everywhere, man, I’ve done a fair bit of travelling in my time. I’ve often found myself in a new city feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff there is to do in the little bit of time I have. As such, I’ve used a lot of different apps for tourists. While they all have their pros and cons, there’s an awful lot of overlap in the kinds of things they do. Truth to tell, most of them don’t do a lot more for me than I can get just by using my iPhone’s built-in Maps app.
TimeTraveler, however, stands out from the crowd in a big way. Though it may not put a flux capacitor in my phone, it comes as close as it possibly can to the next best thing. It’s available today as a free download from the iOS App Store, where it’s currently at the top of the list of featured new apps. For more information, you can check out Yahoo’s TimeTraveler page.