Virtually explore the world for business and pleasure with Tour Wrist

Jul 7, 2011
Tech

I haven’t gotten around to renewing my passport, so when it comes to seeing the world, virtual reality is my only option at present. Thanks to Apple’s new OS, when I downloaded app Tour Wrist to my iPad, my iPhone automatically snagged the universal app, so I was easily able to give both versions a […]

I haven’t gotten around to renewing my passport, so when it comes to seeing the world, virtual reality is my only option at present. Thanks to Apple’s new OS, when I downloaded app Tour Wrist to my iPad, my iPhone automatically snagged the universal app, so I was easily able to give both versions a try.

The concept of Tour Wrist is a bit social, a bit business and a bit travel-centered. Within the app, users will find virtual tours of everything from famous landmarks and pretty landscapes, to hotel properties and rental apartments. When “touring” a locale, Tour Wrist uses your device’s compass to display a 360-degree view of the site, which users can swipe around using touch. If you want more interaction, users can turn on gyroscope and physically turn to see the surrounding environment, making you feel like you’re standing on a beach or mountainside.

I first tested Tour Wrist on my iPhone 4 and was impressed with what I found. Some of the included tours aren’t terribly exciting — Realtors are using the service for house tours, for instance — but the images loaded quickly and the gyroscope was extremely responsive. Tours you like can be shared via email, Twitter and Facebook, and you can see more information on the location through the “Info” and “Links” buttons.

Because of my mostly positive experience with Tour Wrist on iPhone, I expected the iPad’s bigger screen would make the app truly stellar. The iPhone and iPad versions are identical in terms of features, but the iPad app was incredibly unstable — almost to the point of unusable. Tour Wrist crashed constantly. When I could get far enough to load a scene, the app constantly prompted my iPad to recalibrate the compass (this occurred maybe once on iPhone). If the app didn’t crash at this point, both the gyroscope and touch options were choppy when moving the viewer. The few scenes I was able to view did look stunning on the larger screen, but the iPhone version definitely wins in terms of functionality.

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Tour Wrist’s content is fine if you’re open to browsing through the available selections or sticking with the tour of the day, but it should be noted that the search bar doesn’t work well in either app incarnation. I was able to pull up a generic Chicago search, but when trying to directly access the “Field Museum” tour I had no luck. (The app did show me the tour, among others, when I searched for only the word field.)

Tour Wrist offers a good concept, and now that the Tour Wrist AmaTour API is available to let users create their own tours, the app is poised for growth and shows promise. Even so, developers need to improve the search function and stability issues for Tour Wrist to score a higher rating from me.

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