Sep 27 AT 3:13 PM Dustin Earley 20 Comments

Google’s Field Trip app is your always-on virtual guide to the world around you

Google field trip

In Google’s vision of the future, your phone is your guide to the physical world around you. Information should auto-populate your device based on where you are, and what you’re doing. Google Now is the perfect example of how this philosophy can be implemented to boost productivity, while Niantic Lab’s new Field Trip application shows us how to use it for fun.

Field Trip is a new app out of Niantic Labs, a company purchased and operating under Google, that aims to be “your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you.” The concept behind Field Trip is exactly the futuristically awesome stuff you’d expect to see out of Google, and it couldn’t have been implemented better.

Field Trip works like this: points of interest, including “architecture, historic places and events, lifestyle, offers and deals, food drinks and fun, movie locations, outdoor art and obscure places,” are all listed on a map. Field Trip runs in the background of your device, and whenever you come near one of those points of interest, Field Trip will notify you and present you with a card featuring information on the location.

For example, I live in Lansing, Michigan, the birthplace of the now out of business Oldsmobile. By looking around on the map in Field Trip, it was brought to my attention that I live less than two miles away from the original Oldsmobile manufacturing plant. I had no idea.

The information on points of interest are provided by Thrillist, Food Network, Zagat, Eater, Sunset, Cool Hunting, WeHeart, Inhabitat, Remodelista, Atlas Obscura, Daily Secret, Songkick and Flavorpill. This in itself makes Field Trip an incredibly powerful app. A one-stop-shop for information, provided by the best companies in their field, on just about everything interesting in the world around you. That information being provided to you automatically makes it even better.

You can tweak how often you are sent notifications on points of interest when you are near them, as well as whether or not you want Field Trip to read information on the cards provided. You can also choose to have information from cards read through Bluetooth audio devices. So let’s say your driving around in a new city, on a road-trip for example, and you have your Android device connected to your Bluetooth stereo in your car. You can set up Field Trip to read you information on points of interest through the speakers in your car. Vacations will never be the same.

My only personal gripe with Field Trip would have to be the gratuitous use of textures in the design of the app. The whole thing appears to be written on parchment paper, and looks a little gaudy. I’m going to chalk this up to Niantic, since Google’s apps are all clean, modern and texture free. Other than that, I can’t get enough of Field Trip.

You can download Field Trip for free from the Google Play store. For right now, it appears Field Trip is only working in the United States. If you get a chance, let us know what kinds on information Field Trip was able to pull up near you.


Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • zerosix

    Awesome. It’s always great to find out something new about things that you know for years.

  • Burnd

    All this effort and even an inspiring video for an innovative and free app. I love you Google. :]

    • masidu

      Looking for unique design accessories or cool gadgets for your iPhone? IPhone 5 (New iPhone) Accessories! iPhone 4S / 4 / 3GS Accessories! Good news! 30% off! There Free Shipping oh! Do not miss it!

  • Ryan Shyffer

    This feels like it should be an add-in to Google Now on Jelly Bean devices. It is very similar to the places cards you get through that app.

    • Zagrash

      I was thinking the exact same thing, that would be a pretty natural extension to Now.

      • epps720

        I can only assume that they would eventually integrate it.

        Heading into NYC this weekend, will be a great opportunity to test it out

  • van

    What a surprise, not available in Australia.

  • halo0

    Nice. Weekend trip to Atlanta starts tomorrow, should be able to test it out :)

    • Mike

      Let me guess, AWA?

  • herbivore83

    A cool idea, but very limited in scope. I will be watching this to see when it comes to the Rockies.

  • PacoBell

    Wow, that video…I can easily see how that could be taken the wrong way. LOL!

  • Glen

    Not ‘the world’ only the US.

  • andro

    Google is interested in true innovation. Not swipe to unlock.

  • vforvortex

    I dont see any cards for me to check out near by. Its a good concept. I would prefer this to just be incorporated into google maps. where you can choose to turn on feature or not and would fit alongside “local” in google maps as well.

  • Mark

    Another US only app. Smartphones are worldwide, especially android phones. Why do we not get any Google love in the countries that show Google love.

    • Monk

      Totally agree. More than 70% smart phone share outside US and no love for us?

      where are play movies, play music, play books, full Google now and now this???

      we should start banning android to get some attention…

      • andro

        They gotta start somewhere. This v1.0

  • aranea

    I downloaded it and already found stuff around me. The look of the app is very comfortable too.

  • thekaz

    Wow. I’ve lived in this town for 11 years, and still found out some interesting stuff. The old pictures of my neighborhood are interesting, too…

  • BruceCLin

    Seems like a perfect app for Google Project Glass.