Posted on 22 August 2011.
Chris Backe of Chris in South Korea fame, has been working on an iPhone app called Seoul Taxi. designed to make life easier for visitors and residents alike, the app concentrates on making your communications with Seoul’s many and varied taxi drivers something of a more pleasant experience. Chris was gracious enough to give me a free copy to review.
Designed for iOS 4 , the app is specifically for iPhone and iPad Touch and gets scaled if you use it on iPad. I can understand the choice here, if you are going to a destination I guess you are more likely to take your phone with you. On the other hand the iPhone’s display is a little small for your average middle aged taxi driver. Having to hand one’s phone over to a taxi driver is always a dodgy proposition while in contrast holding up the iPad’s 10 inch display is fine for even the most far sighted of Seoul’s taxi drivers!
The app lists over 2000 destinations in Seoul including over 800 restaurants and close to 100 hotels as well as other destinations ranging from art galleries (who knew there were so many galleries in Seoul) to over 150 bars.
Now if you know where you are going and are strictly using the app to assist you in your taxi dealings, simply enter the name of your destination and hit search, odds are you’ll get the info you need.
Once you have found your destination you are presented with a couple of options. Selecting “Taxi Card”will display the address information in big , bold, white-on-black Korean which you then show your driver. Being an iOS app, hitting the phone number will place a call to the destination – particularly good if your driver still hasn’t figured out where to go from the address and hitting the location address option will bring up Google Maps just in case the taxi driver still has no idea where to go.
one of the best features of Taxi Guide Seoul is being able to share the taxi card information. You are able to send the address to people via MMS message – handy if you are meeting a group of people and need to give them directions. Finally you can create your own cards for destinations you find that Chris and his developer HoodHot have yet to discover.
The big advantage of Taxi Guide is its ability to be used off line – visitors to Seoul don’t want to be paying expensive roaming charges.
However this means some features that would otherwise be standard in an app like this are missing. Any app that deals with destinations these days needs Foursquare integration. It just makes sense that upon arrival at your destination you would “check-in”. And for the legions of people intent on sharing every aspect of their lives, Twitter is also missing. Elsewhere, Seoul is constantly changing and apps like this need frequent updates. Future updates will have to be potentially large downloads, where as a “live” app might be able to handle the dynamic nature of Seoul more efficiently. A way around this might be to make users own notes able to be uploaded and shared beyond just their friends.
the only other quibble I might have is the price. while I scored a free copy for review, HoodHot’s other apps for other destinations in Asia range from $4.99 at launch to a whopping $9.99. I would have to say I would not be prepared to pay that much for an app that has no social media integration and lacks the ability to upload and share user created information, and especially when there are a number of (albeit slightly more complicated) free alternatives, such as Google maps and even Foursquare which provide address and direction / destination information.
Bimbo Rating ★★★✩ – half a star off for lack of social, 1 star off for price.