Jason Morris, an ex-colleague of mine from $BIG_COMPANY, has released his latest app to the iTunes App Store. It’s called Hostel Hero – and pretty much delivers everything I would have wanted for budget accommodation when travelling.
For those of us attending WWDC in June this year, it may prove to be very cost effective as well as useful for the traveller. It works on iPhone and iPod touch and caches data for thousands of hotels and hostels across the world and integrates it with Phone, Email and Google Maps. The caching of the data means it works great for offline viewing – pretty essential for backpackers and travellers not wishing to pay up to Â£6 a megabyte for data (and I’ve griped about roaming charges before!). You can also book your room from within the app as well as view photos of the accommodation.
Did I mention it’s free?
The app has had some excellent reviews already and has recently joined my arsenal of apps on my iPhone due to my current increase in travel plans. You can view the Press Release, a guided tour and the demo video at the Hostel Hero web site.
Jason is also the man behind PlayTripper – another essential app for the frequent traveller or long-term backpacker. I’m guessing he’s passionate about the subject matter, had the skills and intent and developed something he would use. Perfect formula for a great app.
Over 3G, the downloads are a little slow due to the amount of data involved so it’s clever to use WiFi for those bits – and the download progress bar is misleading – it finished before hitting 1% even on 3G. The UI is also a little plain – using Apple’s standard widgets and it could do with a bit of colour and design I think. The main subject of DevDays last week was the application of design to software where it crosses with User Experience. The table views are also very long due to the amount of countries, cities involved and a side-picker like the Address Book would be a big advantage here. There are no luxury hotels listed – no Marriots or Hiltons – and that I’ll take as a negative rather than a positive – it’s great for the cash-conscious traveller but this could appeal to a wider audience with a bit of buy-in from the big names too. The app is consciously designed for the budget traveller so I guess I’m being picky – it’s still a hundred times better than hitting Google for budget accommodation.
I’d be much more inclined to use this for myself (work travel) rather than use it to book a getaway for me and the wife (leisure travel) – that’s the only caveat I would add. I’d also like a bit more information, maybe some filters, for locations that might be kid-friendly. I know that’s a little bit of an oxymoron for budget travel but when I travel it’s more likely to be with kids. Even just for finding hotels and hostels around Ireland and Northern Ireland – it’s already proved it’s worth to me.