Mobile Tourist Applications: Design Criteria, Status, and Trends

Mobile Tourist Applications: Design Criteria, Status, and Trends

Michael Kenteris (University of the Aegean, Greece), Damianos Gavalas (University of the Aegean, Greece) and Daphne Economou (University of the Aegean, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-655-1.ch002
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Abstract

Mobile guides have been in the spotlight for the past decade or so and are becoming increasingly available in various forms to tourists visiting places. The majority of these guides are to be used via a network connection and some as proprietary standalone mobile applications installed on-device. Some are solely navigational assistants used in large cities for exploratory services and others are used indoors as museum guides. This research chapter studies three main categories of mobile applications, namely, mobile guides, web-to-mobile, and mobile phone navigational assistants, using a detailed set of evaluation criteria to extract design principles that can be used by application designers and developers.
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1. Introduction

The convergence of information technology, the Internet and telecommunications industry have generated massive changes in the tourism industry field. The tourism field has witnessed those changes as a result of the evolution of technologies used to spread information amongst tourists and the industry. Amongst other activities, tourists use information technology to search for destination information regarding prospective places to visit and the industry makes use of such technologies to offer information to tourists. In addition, due to the increase of Web 2.0 technologies such as social networks, blogs and wiki’s, tourists seek out information from their tourist peers. There are numerous Websites on hand that offer this sort of personal information space to tourists such as tourist blogs, tourist diary notes, and communication technologies to connect with family and friends and with others.

In parallel, an increase in mobile phone usages for services other than voice calls and text messaging are also observed. This is owed to the mobile phone transcending from a traditional voice communication device to an instrument facilitating an interaction of the three major sectors noted above (Mobile Phones, 2009). The mobile phone sector is showing a large increase in mobile phones with personal navigational systems and at the same time there is an increase in the usage of the mobile Web platform (Press release, 2007). However, by nature, mobile phones will always have differences in comparison to the desktop computer; let it be screen size, input methods, or just capabilities. Also, there has been some advancement in mobile Web technologies, gone are the days of WAP based Web pages which have been replaced by dynamic XHTML pages and partial scripting compliance, making the mobile phone a strong predecessor of traditional Web technologies (e.g., mobile blogs, mobile Webmail, mobile sites). However, the mobile phone is still evolving which brings about problems in the making of standards. This has brought about the need for solutions which can compensate on constraints of mobile browser capabilities and the lack of device standards compliance. Current trends are showing an increase in the need of mixed mode Web applications running both on the static Web and the mobile Web (e.g., gmail, google maps, facebook, youtube). One of the most popular solutions of using the mobile Web in conjunction to the static Web is the use of robust stand alone applications running on the mobile phone which compensates on constraints of the mobile Web browser. Yet, due to the large number of mobile devices available amongst users each having unique features brings about issues of porting these mobile applications to fragmented mobile phones types readily available. Most mobile application developers build separate applications for each of the mobile devices the developers want to target bringing about large development overheads and the use of many man hours. This in turn has brought about issues of development platforms and different variations in porting to mobile phone devices.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Tourism Guide Applications: Aterm that refers to applications supporting the tourist on the move by means of location-based and context-aware services. They provide the tourist, for example, with personalized on-site tourism information about points of interest (POIs) (e.g., environmental and landscape attractions or gastronomy), or assist the tourist in organizing an individual tour.

Mobile Positioning Technologies: Mobile Positioning Technologies allow the detection of the position of the mobile device. The term mobile positioning is sometimes used interchangeably with the term mobile location. However, mobile location refers to the location estimate derived from the mobile positioning operation. There are various means of mobile positioning, which can be divided into two major categories - network based and handset based positioning. The purpose of positioning the mobile is to provide location-based services (LBS), including wireless emergency services.

Standalone Mobile Applications: Mobile applications installed locally on mobile devices that do not require constant network connectivity to download and process data.

Web 2.0 Technologies: Web 2.0 technologies are commonly associated with web development and web design that facilitates interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Examples of Web 2.0 services include web-based communities, social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups and folksonomies.

Map-Assisted Applications: Applications provides used to support user orientation and route finding by means of an interactive map.

Mobile Web: A term that refers to the world wide web as accessed from mobile devices such as cell phones, PDAs and other portable gadgets connected to the Internet either through a wireless LAN or the infrastructure provided by mobile network operators.

Navigational Assistants: Also known as Personal Navigation Assistant (PNA) or Portable Navigation Device (PND) is a portable electronic product which combines a positioning capability (such as GPS) and navigation functions.

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