Review: Dubai 2012 iPad app PDF Print E-mail

The app is a nice alternative to hardcopy tourist guides, featuring videos and images for top destinations.

Dubai 2012 is a great travel app that is styled to replace hardcopy tourist guides. Well, for the more tech savvy travellers, at least.

The app is essentially a digital travel brochure with information on must-see destinations in Dubai. It also has multimedia features, including descriptions of the destinations as well as images and videos.

At $0.99 from the iTunes store, the app is much cheaper than most tourist books. The low price also makes it a great buy for travellers who are just stopping over in Dubai for a day – frequent flyers will know how popular Dubai is as a transit destination.

Look and feel
 
Dubai 2012 has a clean design, with bright images and clearly marked menus. The iPad’s display allows for gorgeous, high-resolution photos to whet even the most reluctant traveller’s appetite.
 
Information is also neatly organised into categories, including dining, hotels, nightlife, shopping, sightseeing and outdoor. Flipping between categories is easy, as icons for all the categories are found on the right of the screen.
 
Unfortunately, the media within the app makes for a hefty download. Although the app is listed in the iTunes store as only 4.2MB, users will need to download a further 420MB of data before they can use the app – a feat that is probably best suited to Dubai’s broadband speeds.
 
 
Usability
 
The iOS platform lends itself to a great, interactive user experience. Of course, many people may loathe exchanging their hardcopy travel guides for an app version. However, users who do will find the app provides features that a book simply cannot, such as embedded links and videos.
 
Navigating the Dubai 2012 app is made simple with clearly marked icons to the right of the screen. By tapping these icons, the user can look up information under any of the categories, and there is also an icon that takes users to a map of Dubai. Tapping the two arrows at the bottom of the description pulls up a scroll menu of the various pages at the bottom of the screen. This lets users flip through the different categories.
 
The map includes transport routes, and all destinations in the various categories are also clearly marked on the map. This makes it incredibly easy for users to not only choose their destinations, but also to map out detailed itineraries, letting them get the most out of their time in the city. As someone who travels on a tight budget, I find local transport routes an absolute must, as relying on taxis eats into the sightseeing and dining budget.
 
The videos are also a wonderful way for users to get a taste of what the various destinations have to offer. For example, a video of Jumeirah Beach gives users an idea of what a walk on the beach at sunset is like.
 
Most of the descriptions include embedded links, which users can select to navigate to more information or booking details for that particular destination.
 
This app is well suited to users who would like to plan extended stays in Dubai. It is also a terrific tool for users who have only a few hours in the country. This is because the app gives users a sneak peek into what Dubai has to offer so that they can choose their favourite spots and maximise their time on the ground.
 
 
Of course, the app will also provide some much-needed entertainment for users flying into the country. Even users who aren’t going to leave the airport would do well to buy the app and do some exploring from inside the airport.
 
The app did fall short in terms of features offered by traditional travel guides. Unfortunately, destinations are not rated, and there is little pricing information. This limits the ability of travellers to budget for their trips. However, users can access most pricing by tapping the embedded links, provided they are connected to the Internet. I would argue that a rating and rough price guide should be included, given that WiFi is expensive when airlines allow connectivity onboard flights.
 
Also, while users can bookmark their favourite destinations (a great feature), they are not able to add notes. Personally, I like inserting pencil notes to my travel guides, adding my own descriptions to must-see places as well as destinations to avoid if I were to return to the country, or pass the guide on to a friend who is planning a trip.
 
The app also has a page of essential contact information, including emergency numbers and contact details for various embassies and taxi services.
 
In a nutshell
 
The Dubai 2012 app is a cheaper and more eco-friendly option to a hardcopy travel guide. I would definitely recommend it to iPad users who are planning a trip to Dubai. I will also be on the lookout for similar travel apps before I go on my next holiday.
 
IN SUMMARY
 
Good: Interactive; beautiful photos and videos
Bad: Users can’t add notes; no ratings or price info
Rating: 8/10
Price: $0.99 from iTunes

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