Google Field Trip gives Android users information about their surroundings

Google Field Trip gives Android users information about their surroundings

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Android, Google

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.


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.

Topics: Android, Google

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Yep

    Google Now is significantly more robust than Siri in, pretty much, every common area!
    • Excellent...

      Just what my Android device needs - yet another app running int he background sucking up battery life... and sending my location information to Google for assimilation. Thanks but no thanks.
  • cool

    i havent tried this out yet, but imagine how awesome this could be if it were implemented in google glasses. Walking around without even looking at your phone but still basically having a personal tour guide in your ear everywhere you go.
    • You have been assimilated

      Robert Hahn
    • Then it would be called

      nokia city view!
      • Or Bing Local Scout

        on every Windows Phone out there.
        Ram U
      • Or it could easily be called

        An allowed invasion of one's privacy...
  • Warning, what's with "from now on" agreement your forced into?

    Yikes! Setting up the app brings a warning that you agree to allow Google to track you "from now on"... GPS is permanently enabled, regardless of battery useage. No thanks. It also crashed my MOBO players pop-up player so I will have to start it again to finish watching Director Vance and company fight the bad guys .. My battery is limited enough already without forcing an app. to run GPS all the time... Sounded like a fun app. but too power hungry... Can anyone assuage my concerns? ASSUAGE = ALLEVIATE = CALM , (sort of ...). Please and Thank You !
  • Re: "Runs In The Background"

    I wonder how it will manage that on a single-tasking Iphone...
  • Better than Apple Map

    Cool app. This sure kills any apple maps they have in iOS6. Now they just need to improve the Netflix app and add 1080p to it. For those who don't have Netflix in your country, you can use UnoDNS to unlock geo-block contents and get US Netflix and Hulu.
    John Kimbell