Rama, a free iPhone app, brings a whole new meaning to curation, crowd sourcing and touring historical places. Rama mixes all the three together with a sustainable revenue model to give users a high-class app experience and an unguided tour in unchartered places.
How does it work?
Rama is a free iPhone download. Once downloaded, the app provides a list of sites in select cities where you can tour. Each tour costs between $0.99 to $2.99, and the narration lasts through out the length of the tour which is given upfront in miles. A tour of Jim Morrison’s Grave in France costs $1.99, lasts for 30 mins and runs for 0.5 miles. Beijing’s Imperial Garden tour runs for 3 miles and costs $2.99.
The text quality, albeit the introductory one, is very high. It is so good that it will make you want to buy the tour even if you are not in Baltimore or Beijing.
What can I do with Rama?
You can discover the buildings of St. Mark’s square in Venice, or get an insight of the Sistine Chapel in Italy. You can get lost in discovering Pompeli in Italy, walk along the border of Jerusalem(Israel and Jordan) or discover temples of Dieng Plateau in Indonesia. The places of interest listed in the app, are well, extremely interesting. Best part is, you know what is listed and purchase that particular tour.
What could be better?
The app doesn’t seem to use the GPS location to suggest tour places at the beginning. GPS kicks in after the tour is purchased. Right now the number of places are limited to select cities across the world. Also the places are listed and there is no provision to search for particular city or place. Places in China, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan and few other countries are covered. Not much of an issue, but I haven’t found any Indian city on the list. Probably because of lack of contributors, and not lack of places of interest.
The app is limited to iPhone, which alienates Android users. Though the Android version is coming soon.
Rama works only with 3G and WiFi. This is rather limiting because, apart from the GPS connectivity, I assume, the rest of the content is static as Rama provides historical content. Rama will soon come up with a offline version.
The app lists the American cities starting with Baltimore and goes on in an alphabetical order to American cities. Then it goes on to list the countries in the Alphabetical order. Not a limitation but rather an idiosyncrasy. I found this rather intriguing.
Interested people across the world provide the tour content for Rama. Rama’s team fact checks the content before making it an in-app purchase. All the tours are in-app purchases and once Apple takes its share, the rest is shared between Rama and the content creator. A smart win-win solution which is also sustainable. The incentive to add excellent content or to add more places is always there.
If you are a tourist or a history buff who happens to be in Israel or Combodia, you will learn a thing or two from Rama. Download it.