New iPhone app mTrip offers super-local Web content

App to guide you

The new iPhone application mTrip is a travel guide and then some: It uses the latest in smart phone technology to make it easier to stay on track in a foreign locale. The app takes advantage of a smart phone's GPS and compass features, along with access to high-speed wireless networks, to mash up super-local Web content with the world that surrounds you.

It works like this: You turn on the application, hit the augmented reality button and then look through your phone's camera at the Brooklyn Bridge or the Empire State Building. Icons pop up that show you other points of interest, or restaurants within a half mile of your location, whether the restaurant is open, and what reviewers are saying about it.

The mTrip developers partnered with Sparks, a massive travel guide company, to provide content but also rely on user-generated reviews and suggestions. There is a spot in the app that allows you to send a new place back to mTrip for reviews and additions to its list.

The app also has something called mTrip genius, which works similarly to the genius feature in iTunes. You note whether you want more or fewer parks, churches or monuments, and it designs an itinerary for you.

Overall, I felt the app was a bit busy, offering perhaps so much that it could distract the user from the travel at hand, but developer Frederic de Pardieu noted that it is not necessary to use every feature offered.

"We give you options," he said. "You do with them what you like."