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Google’s Field Trip is a mobile tour guide that fits comfortably in your pocket

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A new Google app just might replace the tour guide. Field Trip, a standalone location app is a newly launched product built by Niantic Labs, a small team at Google focused on building social media and location features. Field Trip notifies its users with relevant location-based information that pops up automatically as a card on their smartphone.

It’s an intriguing new app that uses “ambient intelligence,” as reported first by The New York Times, that could offer a taste of what’s to come from Google’s Glasses. In an interview, John Hanke, a vice president of product at Google, and the head of Niantic Labs, explained to the New York Times that the tech is a precursor to what we may see when augmented reality becomes a more prevalent part of our lives. “What we’re doing is essentially building the information framework and tools to enable that kind of (augmented reality) experience in the future,” Hanke explained.

The app always runs in the background so it can see exactly where you are and even how fast you’re traveling – it can even identify whether or not you’re traveling in a car and time its notifications appropriately without flooding your screen. And relevant information, like restaurant reviews from sources like Zagat, Thrillist, Arcadia, Songkick and others, can be accessed on a card-like display that opens up through the app.

If you’d prefer not to put up with incessant alerts, you can adjust the frequency with which you’d prefer to receive notifications. You can also filter the publications that you’d like to receive informational updates from.

There’s clearly some overlap between Field Trip and Foursquare, although these apps were built for different purposes. “Field Trip enables serendipitous discovery of interesting places, events and stories all around you,” Hanke told Digital Trends. Foursquare, on the other hand helps its users discover new places to eat, play, or shop. But the location-based similarity is there, and Google is just a few social recommendation features shy of encroaching on Foursquare’s business. In fact, like Foursquare, Field Trip offers deals, although they are limited to Google Offers and Vayable. 

The app provides social sharing options via Facebook, Google+, and Twitter and you can download the app for Android phones. An iOS app is not yet available but in the works.

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