Rating: 5 out of 5
Chimani LLC recently released their first travel app for the iPhone. Chimani: Acadia is a very detailed travel guide covering Acadia National Park in Maine. The guide provides both written and audio descriptions of many of Acadia's features, trails and activities. In short, I believe that Chimani: Acadia is the standard against which other travel apps should be compared.
When I first launched the Chimani: Acadia app, I was greeted with a splash screen that remained visible for roughly a minute while the app's database was configured. It is a pleasing photo of the shoreline and subsequent app launches only displayed the splash screen for a few seconds. Chimani: Acadia is designed to be used when a cell connection is absent, so this one-time setup is a small price to pay for having the app's data stored locally on the iPhone.
The main screen of Chimani: Acadia provides a series of 9 icons related to the different categories of information the app provides. The sets of icons scroll sideways with a swipe of your finger, much like the iPhone's home screen, and there are 25 categories in total. The breadth and depth of information is quite impressive and the user interface is both pleasing and highly functional.
- Information - The Information category provides a list of information centers throughout the park, with a map and description of each.
- Auto Tour - This category provides a list of auto tours through Acadia, including the 21-mile Park Loop. The information is provided both textually and through spoken audio by a professional voice artist. The audio is great for listening to in the car while touring the park.
- Shuttle - The Shuttle category displays shuttle bus information and schedules for those without a car or seeking a greener method of transportation. Bus routes are categorized by main stops and individual route pages the schedule as well as how long until the next bus arrives in a large bold font.
- Favorites - The Favorites function shows links to all of your favorite information within the app. Most pages display a button with a star in the upper right corner. Clicking on the button will add that page to your favorite's list.
- Map - This function displays a custom, interactive map of Acadia National Park. It is styled after an antique map and has contour lines showing the topography. The iPhone's GPS will display your location in relation to the features on the map.
- Ranger Events - The Ranger Events category provides a calendar of events being held at the park. The display shows events for the current day and subsequent days for the upcoming week. Tapping an event brings up details, associated fees and the phone number for registering. Tapping the phone number will dial it with your iPhone.
- Sunrise/Sunset - This function provides the time for sunrise and sunset at three major attractions of Acadia, including Cadillac Mountain.
- Hiking - This section provides information about the various trails throughout Acadia. The detail page of each trail provides a description of the trail, noteworthy landmarks and wildlife plus a link to see the trail on the apps mapping function.
- Bicycling - The Bicycling feature functions very similarly to the hiking section, but focusing on trails that are more conducive to riding on with two wheels. There is also some overview information about biking within Acadia.
- Camping - The Camping section resides on the second set of icons on the main screen. Tapping on it provides general information about camping in the park as well as details about the two main campgrounds in Acadia, Blackwoods and Seawall. The screens relating to each campground also provide links to maps.
- Tide Chart - This screen provides tide charts for 5 areas of Acadia National Park. There are also useful tips regarding the tides in these areas, such as ensuring your family doesn't get caught on Bar Island due to the rising high tide.
- Lighthouse - The Lighthouse category provides profiles of the 4 lighthouses within Acadia and links to maps of each.
- Points of Interest - This category provides details about a variety of points of interest within the park, including bridges, ponds and monuments. Each profile provides an overview of the landmark, links to a map and a link to related points of interest.
- Museum - The Museum category provides profiles on a number of area museums. The museums cover a range of topics, including natural history, maritime history and cultural history.
- Parking - For those who are driving their own vehicle to Acadia, the app provides listings for a number of parking areas with maps and nearby points of interest.
- Restrooms - Everyone needs to take a pitstop periodically and the app ensures you can find a restroom near your location within the park.
- Ranger Station - This category provides listings of each ranger station, a map of each and details on what services the station provides.
- Picnicking - The picnicking section provides an overview of picnicking within the park, listings of each picnic area, maps and links to related points of interest.
- Swimming - There are two swimming areas within Acadia and the app provides information about each.
- Birding - There are 273 species of birds in Acadia National Park and the Chimani app provides great information and tips on birding within the park.
- Boat Launch - Boating is a popular activity within Acadia and the Chimani app provides information on all of the boat launches within the park.
- Fishing - Freshwater and saltwater angling are also very popular within the park and the app provides detailed information about what fishing is available and the applicable regulations.
- Horse Riding - This category provides an overview of horseback riding on the park's carriage trails.
- Accessibility - Chimani: Acadia details handicap accessibility within the park.
- Support - This category provides information on how your family can support Acadia National Park.
The Chimani: Acadia app is perhaps the best example of what a travel app should be as any I've seen. There is a wealth of information available within the app and all of the information is stored locally on the iPhone so it is accessible even without a network connection. The fit and finish of the user interface is great and makes for excellent usability.
In my testing of version 1.1 of the app, I did discover a few small bugs. Periodically, tapping the back arrow on the top left of a screen would crash the app and bring me back to the home page of my iPhone. However, I could reload Chimani: Acadia without issue. Another bug that cropped up now and then would display the same set of icons on third pane of the main page as there should be on the first pane, in which case you could not access some of the features of the app, like birding and accessibility.
There are also a few instances where the certain aspects of the user interface didn't quite meet the overall high level of fit and finish across the app. For instance, on the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail profile page, the map button and the related points of interest link obscured some of the text of the page. It would also be a great addition if the app's audio could be played over Bluetooth to an automobile's handsfree system - although, I'm not even sure if iPhone OS 3 or iOS 4 support doing that.
Beyond the minor bugs and interface issues, the app is extremely well done and offers a ton of information about Acadia National Park. Visitors to the park who own an iPhone would be well advised to invest $9.99 in Chimani: Acadia. It is a wealth of information about Acadia National Park right on your handset.