Minneapolis hosts Google app launch party

The latest Android app provides facts and reviews on users’ locations.

by Jessica Lee

Google celebrated the launch of its new Field Trip app with a tech-infused sightseeing tour in northeast Minneapolis on Saturday.

Early adopters explored the city with the latest Android app as their digital tour guide.

With the app, facts and reviews about the user’s location pop up and change as he or she moves around the city.

“It’s just like if you would take me by the elbow and walk me throughout your neighborhood, pointing things out that you thought were cool or interesting,” said Leor Stern, mobile applications developer for Google.

Minneapolis was one of six cities across the nation recognized by Google as “a tech-savvy place” to host the free event.

Stern said the city is hip and “the bicycle-friendly scene in Minneapolis is a perfect fit for the launch.”

“We really like working with Minneapolis,” he said.

From event headquarters at Dusty’s Bar, participants biked, drove or walked as they tested Google’s newest app.

“It’s really like a true field trip like when you were a kid,” said Jess Myers, spokesman for the event. “It’s all about enjoying the day and trying out this new app.”

Users had 29 destinations, such as the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, where they could play around with the app’s features.

The goal of the day was “discovery,” said Greg Nurnberger, who downloaded the app to explore the city Saturday.

Google released the app to the Android Play Store last Thursday morning.

After users choose whether they want occasional notifications or frequent ones, Field Trip runs in the background of their phones, looking for anything notable about the user’s current place.

 “I’ve got information right here on the building I’m leaning up against,” said Shelli Thomson, an event participant. “It just pops up, telling me everything I need to know.”

The app is also designed to read users’ notifications if the phone is connected to a headset or Bluetooth.

“The beauty of Field Trip is it makes everyone a savvy local,” Stern said.

In addition to displaying information from a few dozen of Google’s partners, the app shows restaurant reviews from Google’s Zagat service, deals from Google Offers and city tours from Vayable.

“We keep it dynamic by constantly refreshing the product with new information that comes available online from the publishers we work with,” Stern said. “It’s a continuing process.”

A few of the contributors to Field Trip include Minneapolite — a Minneapolis blog — Arcadia Publishing, Atlas
Obscura, Curbed, Eater and Cool Hunting.

“We’ve been working to develop something like this for a while now,” Stern said. “It’s great to see the day has finally come.”

Field Trip is a part of Google’s long-term goal to weave computers into everyday life.

Stern said an iPhone version would be available in the near future.