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Dec 29, 2009 06:13 AM

"Trip Journal": Helpful iPhone App for Chowhounding?

This new iphone app, "Trip Journal", seems like it might be a good app to capture chowhounding data while on trips:

web site:
itunes link:

Obviously, iphone apps mostly draw off the same database of restaurants, which won't include very new or fuzzy places...or menus, etc. So the perfect app will never be created.

But this strikes me as a better solution than constantly jotting down addresses and phone numbers, and more organized than simply shooting photos. And seems especially good for when you're in an unfamiliar place, but passing lots of interesting-looking places you want to note. Shoot a photo, grab the GPS, scrawl a note, and have it all organized linearly for you (so it's easy to reconstruct later than a pocketful of business cards).

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  1. Right! I use an application designed for hiking (Trail Marker: Hiking Buddy) for similar nefarious purposes. You can mark a place and take your own notes on it. Now if this site would just develop a Chowhound application that works on iPhones / Blackberries -- one that lets you sign in to your account, read and post -- we'd be so money.

    1. If you want to use the app for this purpose keep in mind that at the moment notes are not exported in the KMZ, only comments added to photos.
      Also, only the pictures taken from Current Trip and default pictures of the Waypoints are exported, the other photos from Waypoints are not.

      We are working on an Update that will address these issues.

      I am curious, are there specific features you would need for your purpose?

      6 Replies
          1. re: LuciWiz

            I realized you're a developer, but there are two apps being discussed in this thread. I'll presume you googled in via my OP and that you work on Trip Journal.

            Hypothetical use.

            I'm traveling in Osaka, Japan. I'm passing sushi parlors and stores and museums that look interesting, but I don't have time to stop and enjoy every single place. I want to gather sufficient info so that I can stop back later, or, upon my return home, tell people "this place looked great, but I didn't try it".

            Optimally, I'd like to photograph the exterior, annotate that photograph, have it key in GPS (and cough up an approximate address), maybe take further photographs (e.g. the menu of the sushi place, the brochure of the museum, etc), annotate THEM, perhaps type a generalized note not keyed to any specific photo, and have all photos/notes/address divinations appear in a chronological timeline, from which it would be easy for me to later "chop up" clusters of data about individual places on my desktop. But, while still traveling, I'd use the time stream on my iphone to reconstruct what was spotted when/where so I could quickly find my way back.

            All annotations, gps data and guessed addresses should be available to cut/paste as text later (on my desktop).

            If there could be some level of OCR on lettering in the photos, that, obviously, would be fab. If it could take the OCR output, and, in concert with the GPS data, try to determine precise info about an establishment, that'd be full-on awesome.

            I don't think what I'm asking for would be very different from what the app is intended to do, anyway.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              You are right, I was talking about Trip Journal.

              I think the current version + upcoming update should fulfill most of your needs.

              Basically, you would create a new Waypoint at the place of interest. You will receive the approximate location based on the GPS data via Google Maps (Update feature).

              You can add as many notes to the Waypoint as you want. The same goes for photos. Note that you need to navigate to the Waypoint and write notes and take photos from the Waypoint View. If you do it from the Current Trip screen, they will not be associated to the Waypoint, but with the trip.

              You can annotate one comment to each photo (is this enough?).
              The Waypoint default pictures and picture comments will be exported in the KMZ. The notes and extra Waypoint pictures will only be exported with the next Update.

              A small inconvenient might be that you need to install Google Earth on the Desktop to view the KMZ. You can copy the data from the Waypoint balloon and organize it as you see fit.

              Your scenario might also benefit from a feature to export single Waypoints instead of the entire trip - we are floating this idea around.

              You will see Waypoints and Pictures taken on the trip in Google Earth in chronological order. If you used Track Route you will also have a nice itinerary of your trip and see how you got to the locations; this feature drains the battery quite a bit, so it is recommended for routes under 3 hours or for driving with the iPhone plugged in the charger.

              The OCR solution is not planned, but it certainly seems interesting. I guess pursuing this idea depends on whether it is easy to port an existing solution to the iPhone - will look into it.

              Thank you very much for your feedback.

              1. re: LuciWiz

                One concern with structuring this around way points.....what if there are multiple venues of interest extremely close to one another? Will they mush together?

                Can you add capability to create an annotated google map? Here's an example: . I'd love to be able to spit these out on the fly for all areas I explore!

                Finally, I hope the app wouldn't force my data into such a user -friendly, googled-up format that it'd be a pain to work the data into a blog posting, excel sheet, or filemaker me access to ALL data (including my own notes, annotations, GPS coordinates, and approximate addresses).

                re: finding an existing OCR solution, oh, God yeah. One option would be Amazon's mechanical Turk, so there's human intelligence involved. You'd have to micro pay for the service, so there'd need to be some sort of subscription charge to make it worth your while. It'd keep the app size reasonable to have that work done in the cloud, ala Dragon Dictation.

                Hey, anyone else want to pipe in with ways to create the ultimate app for noting chowhounding finds on the fly?

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  I think it is pretty easy to navigate between Waypoints, we provide some arrows in the balloon you can use for this. You can download an example KMZ from here: and look at it in Google Earth.

                  We will have something like that Google Map soon; I can't tell you exactly what just yet, it will be a surprise :)