Building a Free Custom Tour App with Whitepoint

Everybody wants their own custom app. What few realize is that beyond the substantial upfront expense, you now have ongoing expenses, tour app updates, and you’ve got to drive traffic to that app as well – just like a web site.

And for most, driving traffic to a web site is a tough enough challenge.

So Many Custom Apps, So Little Time

Before we get into how Whitepoint offers free custom tour app capability to almost anyone, let’s clear the air on one topic: There are already a lot of apps out there.

Custom tour app for a village view

You bring a unique perspective and viewpoint to your subject – whether it’s a town, a school, an exhibition, or a piece of real estate. A custom tour helps you communicate that perspective.

Launching another tour app means taking on more marketing duties to push that app. Jeremy Olson details the uphill challenges in a great Smashing Magazine article on app marketing.

Save yourself some of that trouble. Whitepoint has designed its tour app building platform so that you can focus more on the content generation for the tour, than developing, packaging, and getting people to download yet another app.

Leverage an Already Existing Free App

As a result, when you build a tour using Whitepoint, you’re not generating another new app – your tour (called a scape) is immediately available via iOS and Android from the free Whitepoint app.

Yes, people will have to download the Whitepoint app to access your tour, but you’re already starting out with several advantages including an existing user base on a tested tour app technology.

This also means that people won’t technically be downloading your standalone custom app – instead, they’ll be viewing your own custom Whitepoint scape. If you have a physical location, we even have nifty stickers that you can use claiming your location as a Whitepoint site and providing the QR code for download. And, that’s one more thing you won’t have to do.

But Wait, There’s More (To this App)

Your scape is also simultaneously available to desktop Web surfers with our ScapeViewer ™ technology. That means that with a simple snippet of code on your web site, you can link the same tour that your app users are taking. No app download necessary.

This also means that you’re immediately synching content delivered via iOS, Android, and desktop browsers at one time and in one place: at the Whitepoint Authoring Panel. And, yes, that’s right – you’re not updating content for three different platforms separately.

So, How Do You Get Tour App Capability for Free?

For most, Basic Authoring is more than enough capability. If additional capabilities are needed – including custom branding opportunities – there are options with expanded features for that. Get started with Whitepoint right now.

For your visitors or tour users, the Whitepoint app download is free.

And, how do you start building your scape? Take a look at our YouTube video on beginning authoring. In short, it involves little more than building a Facebook profile, adding pictures, and tagging them.

A Real World Example: The Arts Community

There are a number applications for Whitepoint across countless industries. For example, let’s look at the arts:

Odds are that you’ve thought of a similar application given the above examples: How about real estate tours? Office tours? Medical office tours?

And, once you have your scape built, you have a lot of flexibility in terms of driving your business. We’ve studied a few innovative ideas for content delivery using Whitepoint, including Google TV and tour kiosks. You can also save your scape to dedicated tablets which visitors use to access the tour app onsite.

This is all fun stuff – and it’s a lot cheaper and less time consuming than taking off with your own custom app development project. Got ideas or comments? Just send them to us below or by Twitter, Facebook, or Google +. We’d love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, happy #whitepointing.

Updated March 28, 2016.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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A Smarter Walking Tour: Art On The Riverwalk

A river and two hundred years of shipbuilding have helped shape the people and unique identity of Milford, Delaware. Now more people are learning about that identity thanks to artists, students, residents, and some corporate sponsors through their Art on the Riverwalk Tour project.

Walking Tour Scape Image - Art on the Riverwalk Tour

Image from the Milford, Delaware Art on the Riverwalk Tour scape in the Whitepoint tour app. The numbers represent the scene points.

Some years ago, one of the ships that had been built in a Milford shipyard in the early 1900’s was rediscovered. The Augusta was restored and now enjoys a new life as a reminder of Milford’s past and also as a new source of inspiration.

For the town’s Art on the Riverwalk Tour project, eighteen sculptures inspired by the Augusta were created – many by artists and students teaming up – and are now displayed along Milford’s Riverwalk.

The resulting walking tour amid these sculptures, along the river, and through the town is creating new ways for locals and visitors to discover and engage with Milford.

A Featured Whitepoint Scape

We’re proud to present Milford, Delaware’s Art on the Riverwalk Tour as a featured Whitepoint scape.

Walking Tour - Sculpture on Milford, Delaware Art on the Riverwalk Tour

Image from the Milford, Delaware Art on the Riverwalk Tour scape in the Whitepoint tour app. This scene image captures a sculpture by Cathy Walls, with a whitepoint for more information.

This smarter walking tour was arranged with each of the sculptures representing a scene along the Riverwalk tour. The whitepoints – opportunities for visitors to get more detailed information about points along the tour – provide alternate views of the individual sculptures, pictures of the artists, texts about the works and links for more research.

The Art on the Riverwalk Tour is available to all free of charge via the Whitepoint app on iOS and Android, whether visitors are walking the river or just joining the tour virtually from the comfort of home.

To all involved in the Milford, Delaware Art on the Riverwalk project . . . Great work! Cities across the world can learn from your example.

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A Helpful Guide to the Art Basel Miami Week Fairs (With Tips!)

It’s that time of year again – Art Basel arrives in Miami along with all the excitement and satellite art fairs. For first time visitors, the whole experience is overwhelming enough.

Miami art fair guide screenshot of fairs in Wynwood.

Screenshot from the Whitepoint guide to Miami art fairs.

And, often a reliable guide to all of the fairs can be difficult to find.

We’ve prepared a Whitepoint guide to where fairs are concentrated – you can view it via the link below or download our Android app and search “Miami Art Fairs.”

Some Art Fair Tips (Especially for First Time Visitors)

  • Don’t think that you can see it all the art or even all of the art fairs. You won’t be able to. Focus on a few areas of interest or geographical areas and work from there. Our guide is helpful for planning it out.
  • Pace yourself. Take a break in the afternoon. There are evening events – lots of them. And, you never know when you’ll get sucked into one. Besides, you can quickly get a headache from all of the art if you start in the morning.
  • Pick up cards and handouts. You won’t remember all of the art and people you think you’ll remember.
  • Bring something along to carry those cards and handouts. You can quickly accumulate a lot of art related stuff at the fairs. Bring a bag – nothing is worse than having to go back and do a hotel drop.
  • Plan your stops (but not too much). Fairs are concentrated in South Beach / Miami Beach and also in Wynwood. Our guide to the fairs has them broken down by geographic area, and that can help you plan. But remember to include plenty of buffer and relaxation time. After all, you are at or near the beach.
  • Enjoy. Don’t stress. With all the people, visual stimulation, and points of interest among the art fairs, it is easy to get stressed. Take time and enjoy what you do see. Don’t forget to enjoy some of the fantastic South Beach cuisine as well.

And The Link to the Whitepoint Tour / Guide . . .

Is your fair not yet listed? Let us know . . . email info@whitepoint.mobi.

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A Low Cost Android Tablet Recommendation

Android was the recommended OS in our previous blog post on providing a self guided tour app.

We actually have been digging a little deeper into the topic for some time. To test how much hardware life one could expect at what price point, we gave a toddler a low cost Android tablet.

The thinking was that the toddler would be the worst case scenario in terms of letting a museum visitor or tourist run off with a tablet.  (Insert your industry specific joke here.)

Our Low Cost Android Subject

We settled on the Zeepad 7.0 Allwinner, 7″ single camera Android tablet for our extended evaluation. This unit was – at the time of writing – available on Amazon.com for $59.99.

Zeepad tablet running Android - complete with Whitepoint app

Zeepad tablet running Android – complete with Whitepoint app, gel skin, and dirty screen protector.

We also added a screen protector. Be sure you get a custom fit one – not one you have to cut to fit. This mistake will cost you time and a headache. Our Zeepad shipped with a custom fit screen protector, but the . . . er, toddler screwed ours up.

Finally, we added an “almost-Whitepoint-red gel skin. This was money well spent at about $10 – $15. We highly recommend this for public applications.

Here’s what we found:

  • First off, the Whitepoint app ran beautifully on the Jelly Bean version of the OS shipping with the Zeepad.
  • Even with erratic toddler turn on / turn off behavior, there have been no issues charging, powering up, or powering down.
  • Wifi connectivity and setup has been flawless.

Here are our two complaints:

  • The power button seems cheap and flimsy, though we (including the toddler) have had no related issues even after several months.
  • The gel skin we bought for the tablet hinders the power adapter plugging in smoothly. We just pull the skin back and plug it in to charge.

When you think about a per tablet investment total of less than $70, even this price point for a self guided tour app roll-out would work for many non-profits. And, like those silly handheld audio tours, a museum or walking tour could charge a small amount to use the Android self guided tour.

Or, Spend a Little More for Your Android Device

For more money, you can get an even more solid Android hardware device. We have experience with the Toshiba Thrive and Samsung tablets, for example. These are a great value and still come in at a lower price point than using an iPad for your self guided tour.

Custom Brand Your Android Tablet

You also have the option to use a custom branded Android tablet. These can be surprisingly economical.

Interested? Let us know how we can help you with tracking down a custom branded tablet for your self guided tour app installation. You can email us at info -at- whitepoint.mobi or on Twitter @WhitepointMobi.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Building a Mobile Museum App: Five Things to Consider

Mobile museum apps are in the news quite a bit. And often, it is the lack of an app that gets attention. In research we’ve done at Whitepoint, we’ve made some interesting discoveries that might help as organizations approach building mobile museum apps.

Here are a few of them:

1) What is the purpose of your mobile museum app?

Are you looking to attract new visitors? Are you looking to engage visitors once inside? Is the app purely an educational tool with the side benefit of generating new interest?

This answer is important, because its affects the design and development of your mobile museum app.

2) Is the app just for the outside world or does it serve a purpose inside your museum?

Depending on your answer to question number one, you may in fact need multiple apps or at least a very flexible single one. Does it work as a museum guide? If not, are you just developing another version of your existing web site?

3) Expense, both upfront and ongoing.

As we detailed in an earlier post on building a custom app, there are tremendous expenses upfront – and not just in the development of the app. Again, depending on your answers to numbers one and two, you may incur marketing-related expenses as well. Plan on that. Maybe even find a way to experiment before diving in.

4) Curatorial voice and updating.

Once you build a custom mobile museum app, the work is just beginning. Is there content? What kind is it? Who writes it? Does anyone want to write it? Are you just formatting a copy of your web site to upload in Google Play and the App Store?

You’ve got to keep the content fresh.

5) iOS and Android

The arts community, for example, has a clear affinity for iPhones and iPads. We’re not sure if paleontologists though are big Android people. Maybe they are. There are lots of things to consider regarding your development platform, but keep in mind who your target audience is.

If you’re targeting new visitors outside your walls and you’re in the arts, maybe Android is a good place to start. If you’re providing the tablets or iPads to deliver your mobile museum app in house, Android tablets are a lot cheaper to provide. Maybe your space is small, and a single kiosk makes sense.

Regardless, the adoption trajectory for Android is such that it must not be ignored – even though you might prefer iOS.

Happy #whitepointing.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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