You know when you get to a new city and have dozens of things that you want to visit, or on the flipside have no idea what to do or where to go? You try mapping it all out and waste a couple of hours, try everyone’s patience in your group and don’t end up actually using your map because you’ve mistimed everything.
This is exactly what the founders of Citybot were trying to avoid when they came up with the brilliant idea to develop a travel planning app that helps you plan, organize and schedule the best activities for your trip.
Want to see what you’ve been missing?
Citybot is essentially a smart travel planner. It allows you to choose the types of activities you want to do — from coffee sippin’ to cow tippin’ (just kidding) — and then creates an itinerary to help keep you on schedule. The app pulls together suggestions for you based on crowd-sourced reviews (aka Yelp) and offers up to four choices for each activity in a proposed agenda. It’s fairly simple to add or subtract multiple activities and the resulting agenda can easily be shared through social media or via email.
When you download Citybot (it’s free!), you will be asked to sign in via Twitter or Facebook, but don’t worry, it doesn’t post anything weird to your social networks. Once you have logged in, you have the choice of planning a trip to San Diego or San Francisco (currently the only two options, but they say they will be launching in new cities soon.)
Once you tap your given city’s icon (hello, San Francisco), a new page will load offering up a variety of activities from Landmarks & Attractions to Outdoors and Coffee & Tea to Nightlife. Tap on each activity category you are interested in so that Citybot can plan accordingly.
If you have a more specific idea of what type of activity you are interested in, you can scroll all the way to the bottom and tap Narrow down, under Optional. This will allow you to choose more specific types of activities (or in the case of food, the specific cuisine) for the categories you have already selected. For example, if I selected Lunch, then I would have 75 different types of lunch to choose from. Or, if I chose Outdoors, then I could narrow down the activity to Beaches, Botanical Gardens, Parks, Stadiums, Views or Zoos. Pretty sweet, huh? Alternatively, if you have a specific place that you know you are going to, say AQ (an amazing new restaurant in San Francisco), then you can type in the name at the bottom of the main activities page. Once you type in the name of the venue/activity you want to add to your trip, a new page will open featuring a map and options that match your query.
You will also need to adjust specifics of your trip in the summary block at the top of the app. You can adjust the type of transportation you will be using (drive/walk, walk only, public transit/walk) as well as where and when you would like to start and end your trip (it prefills with you ending your day at 2am, I like how you roll Citybot!)
After you have all the specifications of what type of trip you want, you can tap Next: build trip. This will open up a new page with a proposed itinerary and map.
The itinerary that Citybot creates will depend on how many activities you have selected and the amount of time you have specified. The list view of your itinerary is easy to adjust. Each activity row will suggest up to four options. You can slide the bar to the right to view each option or all the way to the left to delete the entire activity.
You can learn more about each suggested activity by tapping on the name. Each suggested place has images pulled in from Yelp that when you tap will open up in fullscreen mode. They also have the handy little Website, Directions and Call buttons available for each activity. What’s really great about the Website button is that it doesn’t launch in your preferred browser, but instead launches the website within the app — I personally hate it when it launches Safari, because then I have to waste time going back to the app to finish what I was doing. Each suggested activity also features the business hours and overall Yelp score.
You can drag the activities up and down to reorder the itinerary, causing the map and time suggestions to adjust accordingly. And when you delete activities, the map will (hey, surprise) adjust to reflect the changes.
Once you have a nice little trip planned out you can email it off to a friend, family or the world via Facebook or Twitter. For the over-achiever, you can save planned trips as “options” or handy little guides for your next visit.
On the main screen, you have the settings icon in the top left corner. This has a few more options than what I was expecting which is nice. You can adjust your pace for the itinerary with a maximum driving distance toggle bar and a Like to walk? rotating picker with the following options: I can walk for hours!; I do, but not for hours; I can walk a mile; I don’t like to walk. You can also adjust your budget from $ to $$$$ (baller!).
Alright, so I get that this is great for people who don’t really know what to do when visiting a new city and want to get the down-low on what’s what and how to get there, but I just don’t believe in Yelp. And unfortunately, Yelp is used to generate the majority of suggested activities. With that said, Citybot does do an excellent job of sifting through all the information on Yelp and pulling together relevant activities that have good reviews, are open and aren’t a million miles away — and it doesn’t bombard you with too many options. The design of the app itself is pretty average, nothing offensive and nothing overly amazing; it does the job. Once this app launches in more cities, I can see it becoming a valuable tool for tourists and I’m very interested to see how the app evolves.