Screencaps from the TripCast iPhone app from JeepEnlarge Photo
A couple of weeks ago,we covered a great new app for the 2011 Grand Cherokee. Now Jeep has released a very different application called TripCast, which allows you to share photos, videos, audio, and notes from vacations, road trips, or afternoons at the park. TripCast has the potential to be another win for Jeep, but it'll need several upgrades to get there.
TripCast is, at heart, a social network in miniature. Users create a profile and add friends; then, when it's time to do some adventuring -- preferably, in a Jeep vehicle -- users set TripCast to start tracking their journey. Along the way, users can flag spots and post photos, video, audio, or written commentary, then share that content with friends on Facebook or Twitter, or via email.
On the plus side, TripCast is 100% free, and it's already available for download from the App Store. (Contrary to the press release, it can't be downloaded directly from JeepTripCast.com.) Once you start a trip, TripCast uses GPS to track your progress automatically, which is not only courteous but also safety-smart. We also like the iPod integration (so you can listen to your tunes from within the app), and the Points of Interest, which are special, pre-set markers identified by the friendly folks at Jeep.
On the downside, TripCast is essentially another social network, and none of us really want to join another social network, do we? The app would be much more appealing if developers had left out the registration part altogether and settled for using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or some other network as its social base. At the very least, they could've made the registration process less convoluted: not only do you have to invite friends to join the network, you also have to friend yourself. Which is fine for Sybil, maybe, but not everyone.
Also on in the negative column: TripCast is iPhone only, the user interface isn't very intuitive (though it's better than the semi-comparable TripJournal), and -- worst of all -- TripCast is very, VERY crashy. As in, it closed six times on our 3GS (running iOS4) within the space of five minutes. We were tempted to chuck it out the window, but we stuck with it, for your sake. You owe us.
If you're the sort of person who reads the owner's manual on every new toaster, you might enjoy a skim of the TripCast press release below. Otherwise, you can visit the iTunes store and download it now -- just be prepared for a little frustration until Jeep sends out some updates.
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The Jeep® brand today announced the launch of TripCast,™ an easy-to-use, free, iPhone app and Web site that enables consumers to plan a trip, share an electronic scrapbook of the adventure and upload photos, video, audio clips and status updates to Facebook and Twitter. The application allows family and friends to follow a traveler's trip in real time via the Web or an iPhone. Also included in the application is a "Points of Adventure" function which offers those looking for their next adventure more than 250,000 outdoor recreation spots in the United States.