News that Google would soon begin testing a new mobile travel application leaked out last week, and now we have more details, including screenshots, of what that app will look like. The app, called Trips, is being trialed with a small group of testers, and will allow users to keep track of past and upcoming trips, while also making recommendations about tourist destinations, restaurants, local transportation options, and more.
Access to the Trips mobile app is only being made available to members of Google’s Local Guides program.
A revamp and rebranding of Google’s prior City Experts effort, Local Guides launched last year as Google Maps’ competitor to Yelp’s Elites. As with Yelp, program members are offered a variety of rewards and benefits in exchange for writing business reviews, posting photos, and helping to fill in and correct Maps information.
One of those benefits, as Google previously indicated, is early access to new Google products and features. This appears to be one example of that perk in action.
According to the initial leak, Local Guides were invited to be among the first to try a new “travel assistant app for Android and iPhone.”
What’s interesting about the new app is that it’s able to pull in your trip information just by scanning your Gmail messages, similar to how Google’s virtual assistant, Google Now, also works.
That makes it slightly competitive with TripIt, which has the larger goal of helping to automate collection of your trips into a single interface, then provide useful services on top of that, like tracking points, getting flight alerts, setting reminders, changing seat selections, sharing trips with others, and more.
However, in the case of the Google Trips app, it seems the focus is less on mimicking the somewhat utilitarian nature of most travel planners and companion apps, and more on the fun that comes with exploring a new destination.