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Learning about Charleston's history, while fun, can be quite a stressful experience: Where are we? Where is it? What is it? Is the tour booked up?
Tour books and maps have been an essential part of that quest ever since tourism began, but portable devices have been changing all that.
Already the iPhone functions as pretty good travel companion, connecting you to the Internet's bounty of knowledge. But one local company had a vision on how the iPhone could be used to make the ultimate self-guided tour. The product of that vision is "Charleston City Slicker." Packed into the 381 MB application is a location-aware, video-rich, high-quality tour guide of historic Charleston.
The program sorts places of interest by their distance from you. Nifty.
And it all comes together like this: You trek around town with the iPhone in hand and either punch in specific locations for directions on how to get there, or device will highlight places that you are near.
Once you arrive at a destination you open that location's entry, say on the Circular Church, and text, photos, and videos are all inside. -- There's an hour and ten minutes of video in the application. That's right, in it, which means you don't have to stop and wait for it to download while your trekking around, on the flip side all that video does take up the space equivalent to around a hundred songs.
All-in-all it's a pretty good experience, even as a local I've enjoyed the convenience and depth of knowledge in the videos. I look forward to pulling it out as I walk around the older areas of town.
There are certainly areas where the user experience could be more polished. The program may not be something your mother would want to use over the old-fashioned human-being tour guide, but if you're iPhone savvy the program is a more convenient and at $9.99 it's cheaper than dishing out for the real thing.
Also worth noting is that the program generally only covers places in the oldest part of town (south of Market Street and east of Meeting Street), but that's pretty much on par with what you'd get on a standard tour.
And the program's been pretty well received, the idea was one of the first 4,000 excepted in the iPhone Developer program, chosen as an AppStore Staff Favorite on September 6, and Apple App of the Week on September 8, and has a 4 (out of 5) star rating by customer reviews on Apple.