Finding hidden gems in cities and countries with new apps

By Reuters

Oct 28, 2014 12:56 AM EDT

News apps are helping users share information about sights and hidden gems in cities and countries around the globe so other people can benefit from their knowledge.

Findery, a free app for iPhone and Android available worldwide, lets people view trivia and stories about favorite locations, whether it's a building, beach, or a landmark like the Eiffel Tower.

"We want to help bring curiosity, adventure and exploration into daily life," said Caterina Fake, founder and chief executive officer of Findery, based in San Francisco.

When users open the app they can read notes and inside tips or view photos and videos by others about nearby locations, which can be viewed on a map.

"I was standing in front of a building I pass a thousand times and found out that Ann Rice wrote 'Interview with a Vampire' there," Fake said of the vampire novel by the American author.

The app includes copious notes about cities like New York and San Francisco and information about countries around the globe.

"We want to ground people in the place they're standing and where they are, which technology has the tendency to take us away from," Fake said.

Findery and other apps aim to enhance the travel experience.

Wikipedia recently re-introduced a feature called Nearby on its free iOS and Android apps that shows people entries about nearby places, landmarks, historical events and monuments.

"It's a great thing to do when wandering through a new city, and it's the number one thing people asked us for," said Katherine Maher, chief communications officer of the San Francisco-based Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging the free distribution of educational material.

HistoryPin, free for iOS, Android and Windows phone, allows people to explore history through photos geo-tagged on a map. Users can also overlay historic photos over the present view with the app's augmented reality view.

People wanting to discover hidden culinary locations can use apps such as  Find. Eat. Drink, for iPhone, and Chefs Feed for iPhone and Android. Foodies profile their favorite restaurants on the apps. 

Craig Palli, chief strategy officer of Boston-based mobile app marketing firm Fiksu, says Findery is likely to strike a chord with consumers, but its long-term staying power will depend on people contributing notes. 

"It will need to hit critical mass. If they can hit scale, I think it's an excellent premise," he said.

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