Google Field Trip gives Android users information about their surroundings

The app, which is only available to Android users in the US for now, comes from a 'mysterious' laboratory set up within the company by the man behind Google Earth.

Google has released Field Trip, an Android app that displays information about the area around the user, with subject matter ranging from history to restaurants.

Google-Field-Trip-screenshot

The app, which is only available on the Google Play Store, came out on Thursday for customers in the US. It has been released by a division of the company called Niantic Labs, headed up by former Google Geo product manager John Hanke.

Hanke used to be chief executive of satellite imagery firm Keyhole, which Google bought in 2004 before renaming its core product Google Earth. His Google+ profile says he is involved in a "mysterious project at Google".

That project is now less mysterious. Field Trip runs in the background on an Android phone — the website says it is "coming soon to iOS" — and, when the user passes something interesting, the app throws up a card showing information about the location. No user intervention is needed to make that happen and, if the user has headphones or Bluetooth set up at the time, the app will spontaneously read out the information.

Field Trip appears to pull in data from the APIs of various services, such as Arcadia for history, Zagat and the Food Network for restaurants and bars, Songkick for local music, and Atlas Obscura for interesting and obscure sights.

According to the Field Trip FAQs, users are able to tune the frequency with which notifications arrive (or turn them off entirely), and rate notifications to teach the service about the user's preferences.

"Stay tuned for more information about international availability," the FAQs add.

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