In the world’s great cities you can be carried away by apps that lose you in a potentially infinite drift through the streets. You can also hack an urban map and explore places prohibited to the average citizen. Or you can, with this new idea, embark on a themed tour guided by a kind of audiobook that takes advantage of smartphone technology to keep you entertained and active in the city.

We typically associate audioguides with heavy earphones rented at a museum ticket office. But now artists and storytellers are developing collective audiowalks that can be as absorbing as a good story, and as smart as a personal guide. The following are some apps with the potential to change how tourists and locals experience cities.

Detour

This app leverages the capabilities of the phone (such as GPS and Bluetooth) to take you on a custom-made urban stroll that is always in tune with the pace of your walk, your breaks and your changes of mind. You can, for example, walk somebody else’s city, travel in time and find pleasure and intrigue in even the most common or mundane places. The phone will not work while you pause to observe the world around you.

yapQ

This multilingual platform allows you to explore the surroundings at your own pace, but it also includes descriptions spoken by the computer of countless geocoded pages of Wikipedia. You create your own tour according to your interests, regardless of the city you are in.

The most delicate element about designing these apps is ensuring that the places of interest on the tours are not too prolonged so as not to lose the attention of the listener. Like any narrative, audiotours must keep the audience involved in the story, but also need to know how to avoid all the environmental noises that distract the user from the tour. So far the concept is too recent for us to know its full scope, but is without a doubt a window on the future of alternative tourism and urban avant-garde.

In the world’s great cities you can be carried away by apps that lose you in a potentially infinite drift through the streets. You can also hack an urban map and explore places prohibited to the average citizen. Or you can, with this new idea, embark on a themed tour guided by a kind of audiobook that takes advantage of smartphone technology to keep you entertained and active in the city.

We typically associate audioguides with heavy earphones rented at a museum ticket office. But now artists and storytellers are developing collective audiowalks that can be as absorbing as a good story, and as smart as a personal guide. The following are some apps with the potential to change how tourists and locals experience cities.

Detour

This app leverages the capabilities of the phone (such as GPS and Bluetooth) to take you on a custom-made urban stroll that is always in tune with the pace of your walk, your breaks and your changes of mind. You can, for example, walk somebody else’s city, travel in time and find pleasure and intrigue in even the most common or mundane places. The phone will not work while you pause to observe the world around you.

yapQ

This multilingual platform allows you to explore the surroundings at your own pace, but it also includes descriptions spoken by the computer of countless geocoded pages of Wikipedia. You create your own tour according to your interests, regardless of the city you are in.

The most delicate element about designing these apps is ensuring that the places of interest on the tours are not too prolonged so as not to lose the attention of the listener. Like any narrative, audiotours must keep the audience involved in the story, but also need to know how to avoid all the environmental noises that distract the user from the tour. So far the concept is too recent for us to know its full scope, but is without a doubt a window on the future of alternative tourism and urban avant-garde.

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