There's no question that photos are an incredibly persuasive form of travel inspiration, but a basic internet search for your desired destination runs the risk of delivering images that are inaccurate, imprecise or woefully out-of-date – so it’s not much help in the planning department.
Teleportd (a iPhone app) and Skylin.es (a website and a mobile app) are two
new photo search engines that operate in real-time, helping a traveller to –
let’s say – get a sense of the vibe of a Paris arrondissement before booking a
hotel there. Run a search on either Teleportd or Skylin.es using the names of each
arrondissement, such as "Marais" or
"Saint-Germain-des-Prés", and both will display photos that were
recently taken at those locations, based on geo-location information from the
device that took the image.
The two apps
are similar in functionality.
Teleportd is a free, iPhone-only app that was launched
by a Parisian company earlier this month. It searches within photos that have been
recently uploaded to Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and PicPlz, and are geo-tagged
to major locations, like Tokyo and Toronto. While the upper half of your iPhone
screen reveals recently uploaded photos, the lower half displays the location
of each image on a Google Map. As you zoom in to a particular part of your map,
the app reveals slightly older images of the destination, taken up to one month
in the past. Changing locations is intuitive: just click on a different part of
downside, Telportd is a data-intensive app. Unless you have an all-you-can-eat
data plan with your cellular provider, you'll only want to use this tool when
you have access to free wi-fi.
Skylin.es is a free app available for Android and iPhone
that launched in May by a company in Amsterdam. The app allows you to search
for someone, something or somewhere among images that have been uploaded in
recent months to the photo services yFrog, Instagram, Twitpic and Mobypicture.
It filters images based on location data and publicly available
information, like captions, found with the photos on social networking sites
like Facebook and Twitter. Skylin.es' interface requires trial-and-error to
figure out. Typing in "Marais" (without the quotation marks) doesn't
fetch any photos; neither does "Marais France". But searching for
"Marais Paris" finds many photos taken at spots in the Marais
district in Paris. Like Telportd, the site is also a data hog; be sure you have
free or affordable Internet access when you use it.
Sean O'Neill is the tech
travel columnist for BBC Travel