Doors Open 2011 mobile apps
Doors Open 2011 begins tomorrow, and for those still making their mind up on what they want to see, using one of the various mobile apps devoted to the festival might come in handy. Although none of these are officilally endorsed by the City, each were designed via Toronto's Open Data program. All of the apps are free, and, for the most part, work pretty well. But given that there's not much point in having more than one on your phone, let's take quick look at what's on offer.
Legend Viewer: Doors Open itinerary (pictured above)
Not specific to Doors Open, Legend Viewer is an app that organizes a variety of activities and events into a mobile-friendly environment. That means you have to take a couple seconds to set it up by entering in the item code for Doors Open 2011, which is doto2011. Once you've got over the mini-pain of adding the event, this app works great. Its intuitive layout has the most visually pleasing venue-based page, it quickly plots buildings on a familiar Google map, and allows you to filter events both both time and location (most just do location). The added bonus of downloading this one is that you might want to use it for something else (like Nuit Blanche) in the future. The Legend Viewer is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry phones.
Arguably easier to use because it's made specifically for the festival, Doors Open Mobile is, however, only available for iPhone users. Once downloaded, this app is revealed to be most useful for the way that it highlights key information using easy-to-read icons (e.g. what type of photography is allowed, and washroom and parking availability). You can also read full descriptions of each venue, map buildings nearby and create a list of "favourite" buildings to check out.
The hokey graphics and bottom banner ads aren't for everyone, but the layout of information is actually quite good here, with options for browsing buildings by "category" (e.g. arts & culture, science & nature, history, etc.) and "attribute" (e.g. kid friendly, green, accessibility, etc.). The colour coding on the map function and the section on Toronto history are also nice touches. The bad news, it's only available for iPhone users and it tends to crash a lot.
Last but not least is the DOTO web-based app, which does what most of what the other apps do but without the need to download anything. This is a good idea and will appeal to a wide variety of phone users. I found it a little slower to load buildings, which might prove annoying for some, but given that there's less selection for non-iPhone users, this might just do the trick.
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