The Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic is less than two weeks away and as part of the planning process (and really just cause we're pretty nerdy), we've created Passbook 'passes' for each of the events.
Passbook is a technology added by Apple to the iPhone and iPod touch in iOS 6 for managing things like tickets, loyalty cards and the like.
Our passes are available for free on the VIMFP Web site. To add them to your Passbook, visit that page from your iPhone or iPod touch and tap the Passbook icon beside each event. You'll be asked to verify that you want to add the pass and then you're off and running. If any of the event details change (such as the venue for the cocktail meet-up), you'll be notified automatically via a notification.
For folks running Android, there are some third party apps on the Play Store that support this functionality.
NOTE: You don't need one of these passes for entry to any of the events. Attendance is free and open to all.
Smartphones like the iPhone and Android devices revolutionized personal navigation with GPS and Google Maps, making it easy to navigate to anywhere you want to go. The one big omission? Indoor support.
GPS, the technology used to pinpoint your location on the globe, requires line-of-sight to satellites in the sky. It doesn't work indoors and even the tall skyscrapers in large metros can cause problems for reception. To combat this, phone designers have used other technologies like Wi-Fi radios to triangulate indoors. Typically, this gives a low level of precision, far less accurate than GPS.
Google, a constant pioneer in mapping technology, started working in earnest on indoor maps this past January, using this technology. With a heavy mesh of Wi-Fi base stations inside a building, the system can, reasonably accurately, determine your location just like it would with GPS. A preview of that support is available on Android but it's not widely deployed and not available on iOS as of yet.
This morning, The Venetian announced a new version of their iOS and Android app that includes similar technology to provide indoor mapping and navigation for people wandering around the MEGACENTER complex. I haven't tested it yet myself but it looks pretty great... or at least the idea is great, if it works.
This is an important moment. Eventually, indoor mapping will be something that users come to expect but for now, it's an 'oh wow' feature as people realize they never have to wonder how to get to the restaurant for dinner again.
I'm looking forward to a lot more of this sort of thing and the minute that it's practical for Vegas Mate, expect to hear more about the details.
Are you coming into town next week for CES? Is this your first time in Vegas or maybe even in a casino? We've got some tips that you might find helpful for getting around, finding a charger, getting online and more...
Got more to add? Feel free to share your tips in the comments.
Also, if you're heading to Vegas and have an iOS device, pick up Vegas Mate in the App Store.
Vegas Mate 3.2, an update originally designed to support iOS 5 but then ballooned as time went on, has hit the App Store. Here's what's new:
- iOS 5 compatibility: now compatible with Apple's latest version of iOS.
- Add your own custom items to your trips, even if they're not in the Vegas Mate database. Create, sync and share trips that include anything you want.
- Add trip notes: win/loss details, air travel details - whatever doesn't fit into a normal trip schedule.
- Both custom items and trip notes export via email, sync between devices and can be printed.
- Share your reviews on Facebook easily.
- Navigate between tourist tips by swiping left and right.
- Push Notifications: allow yourself to be notified of new content updates and other breaking app news.
- Extended Notifications: if you want extra Vegas news, enable this option in Settings.
- Added the ability to copy a photo into the clipboard. Tap and hold when viewing a full-size photo.
- Increased the font size when writing a review to make things easier to read.
- Photos should display much more quickly, even on 3G connections.
- Improved search accuracy for certain search terms.
- User interface improvements.
- Fix for a bug that prevented you from saving photos to your camera roll.
- Fix for a bug that prevented you from emailing photos.
Thanks to user John W. for help finding the above two issues.
- Fix for a bug that could cause a crash when downloading trip templates.
If you're running (or are about to be running) iOS 5, this is a must-update. There are a bunch of things Apple changed that we now accommodate.
In addition, the other big items are:
- Ability to add anything to a trip - any custom item you might want.
- Trip notes to store anything that you might want.
- Push Notifications - both a 'standard' level but also 'extended' push for those people that want breaking news and other big stories pushed out to them. Enable that in the Settings app under Vegas Mate.
- Swipe navigation for Tourist Tips - turns out this is a much nicer way to read these.
I was originally expecting this update would come out in early September but since iOS 5 is only now upon is, here is. Thanks for your patience and thanks for being Vegas Mate customers.
Three years ago today, the first version of Vegas Mate was made available on the iTunes App Store. Since then I've been through dozens of updates through three major versions.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my customers, supporters and friends. It's incredibly rewarding to produce a product that so many people have told me they love.
Lots more to come with Vegas Mate in the future, stay tuned.
So... the Las Vegas Review-Journal has an app. Did you know that? I didn't... Until today.
It was released June 30th.
Sure, we had heard they were working on one but I hadn't seen it on the store. Or mentioned on the RJ site. Maybe I missed it. After having seen the app, I have more questions than anything else.
First off, the app is iPhone only. It's not designed for iPad, a device far better suited for reading news. That strikes me as odd. Second, the app isn't called 'Review Journal' or anything remotely similar. It's called 'Las Vegas News'. What's even more odd is that it doesn't appear in searches for 'LVRJ', 'review journal' or the like. When you submit an app to the App Store, you can add search tags to help users find your app. It seems they have failed to do this - I had to have someone give me the search term to find it. Are there ads directing you to this app on their site? I haven't seen them.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the price: $5.99. While that doesn't seem like a lot of money in the real world, in app terms that's like charging $40 for a movie ticket. It implies a significant value. The top ten apps in the news category range from $0.99 to $4.99. That's not counting quality free apps from outlets like USA Today.
I have a lot of experience with app pricing and $6 surprises me regardless of the value of the news they are providing. I have no problem with a developer charging a fair amount for their app but it should be priced based on what the market will bear. I will be shocked if this is a hit for them at this price.
For $6 you get... ads! Yes, even after charging a relatively high price, they're still including ads in the app. This is not the kind of thing that endears you to mobile users where screen space is at a huge premium. The mobile banners take up about 1/6 of the screen.
I'm wondering if this should even have been developed. As the 'app guy', you might be surprised to hear me say that. Well, I believe that apps can be great but the Web is also a fantastic platform on the desktop and on mobile. An iPhone app that just presents the same stuff people see on your Web site isn't much use to anyone. Sure, you can do cool stuff like push notifications for breaking news but lets be honest, the RJ doesn't have a great track record in that department either.
If you're going to build an app, it needs to prove it has a reason to exist by including features that can't be done (or not done easily) on the Web. It seems like it was created because it was on a marketing person's checkbox, one of my complaints about the many Vegas casino apps out there.
Like many news organizations, the RJ now has a mobile specific site designed to make it easier to read on smaller screens. This practice is not entirely without controversy - some make a strong argument that a well designed Web site doesn't need a separate mobile version and that users with sophisticated smart-phones would rather just get the full features of the 'real' site. This is even more true with larger devices like iPad and thus companies like the New York Times just show the real deal (or have custom apps).
Some of the issues I've noticed with m.lvrj.com:
1. You're sent to the mobile site by default and there doesn't appear to be an easy way (any way?) to access the real site on an iPhone.
2. The desktop site and the mobile site appear to be at least somewhat out of sync. For example, there's an article about Pinnacle appearing on lvrj.com right now that doesn't appear on the mobile site - in fact, the entire business sub-section seems a day old. I'm guessing the mobile site isn't directly published by their CMS - looks like the content is delayed somewhat. Not exactly a great feature for a news site, to be missing the latest content.
and perhaps the biggest issue:
3. If you follow a link to a specific story from a tweet or email on an iPhone or Android device, you don't get the story, you get the mobile index. No context and no clues as how to find the story, if it's even on the mobile site (see #3). This behavior seems at least partially dependent on the referring site - when clicking through from TWHT I got the real site but when I clicked the link from an email (no referrer), I get redirected.
Hopefully these are just temporary bugs that will be fixed soon. What's weird is that I'm getting the results inconsistently, as if different requests are hitting different Web servers that aren't all configured the same way. At first I thought I was crazy or had done something that locked me into the mobile site. I don't think that's the case but if you get different results or know a work-around (other than changing the user-agent), please post a comment.
I haven't been able to nail down a specific access pattern but between lvrj.com, www.lvrj.com and reviewjournal.com, I can usually get the full site on the iPad if I try.
To compare, here's the normal site and then the mobile site on the tablet screen. If I could choose, I'd just stick to the real site and have them focus their time on improving that, creating a better experience for all users.
From a story in today's Las Vegas Sun about sportsbook apps coming to smartphones:
After launching its first application for BlackBerry phones in September, the company has introduced the application for Android and will soon be compatible with iPhones.
Apple requires all App Store bound apps to go through an approval process. They don't tell us where these reviewers are but most people seem to think they're in California, Massachusetts and Texas. Per state law, this app only works inside Nevada's borders.
Is Apple going to come out to Nevada just to review this app? If so, that's not an option that is generally available to other developers and would obviously cost money. Is Leroy's going to break gaming regulations to allow Apple's testers to opt out of the location targeting? Maybe some sort of simulated test mode that tries to straddle both requirements?
This issue may be unique to the iPhone and thus maybe not all that interesting of a story in the general sense... but it shows how technology is intersecting with gaming almost continuously these days. Perhaps telling is the fact that Apple removed specific language that prohibited gambling apps several months back, opening the door to non-simulated wagering.
On this topic, I'm certain that there is more to come.
I see that my pal Chuck at VegasTripping has soft-launched a new feature called Itinerary. Basically, it's a tool to help in your trip planning, allowing you to keep better track of all the great Vegas info you get from VT and all over the Web.
What does this have to do with Vegas Mate?
Well, back in like August or so, we were talking about ways we could do some work together. Well, allowing Vegas Mate 3.0's new trip feature to sync with the MyVegas community seemed like a good bet so that's what we'll be doing.
We're still working out the tech details but you should expect it to work kinda like you'd imagine. More info in the coming weeks.
I'm excited for Chuck to see this launch - I know it's something he's been thinking about for quite awhile.
I'm very excited and happy to announce that Vegas Mate 3.0 has been approved and is available now in the iTunes App Store. 3.0 is the biggest update to Vegas Mate since the app was first released in 2008.
For iPad users, this version is 'Universal' - that means that the single download runs on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. If you formerly used the version of Vegas Mate on the iPad, now known as VM Classic, this replaces that. It includes all the features of the iPhone version.
For both platforms, 3.0 brings a new trip planning feature. Think of this as 'favorites on steroids' - add your hotels, restaurants and shows. Include details, confirmation numbers and anything else you might need - the app can even remind you before your big dinner so that you don't lose track of time at the craps table.
That's just a taste - there are a ton of other changes, bug fixes and performance enhancements.
Of course, I've got a list of stuff for 3.0.1, 3.1 and whatever comes after that. Right now though, I'm going to relax a little and hopefully enjoy the holiday.
A big thank you to all of the folks that did beta testing. The app is better because of your feedback and bug reports.
If you like 3.0, I ask that you please, please consider leaving a review. It's hugely important for us when it comes to promoting the app. From your device, tap here to leave a review.
Screenshot gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lasvegas/sets/72157625528652767/
NOTE: For users that had previously purchased the iPad version of Vegas Mate but don't also own the iPhone version, please see this page. I'd like to work with you to get you upgraded if I can.
Today is the last today to vote in the Trippies. I'm/we're nominated in the following categories:
I'd very much appreciate your vote!
Happy to say that this blog, along with my app Vegas Mate, the recently re-done RateVegas.com Web site, the Vegas Gang Podcast and my Twitter ramblings are all nominated for awards in the 2010 Trippies.
I'm honored to once again be nominated and I hope you'll consider voting for the above as you cast your ballot. Voting only takes a few minutes.
Vote Here: http://www.vegastripping.com/trippies2010/
Just a quick post to indicate that I've posted a few photos from this past weekend. Some are of the event setup and some are just around town, including Aria's new high limit slots, Lakeside Grill at Wynn and other randomness.
Big things are happening in the Vegas Mate universe and the product that's currently available for the iPad will be phased out of active support in the coming months. It will be replaced with a universal version of the iPhone app - that means that when Vegas Mate 3.0 for the phone comes out, it will run on both iPhone and iPad, no more separate versions. I'll be writing more about the details and how I made some of these decisions in future posts. I've put a lot of thought into all of this.
At that point, the existing iPad app will be renamed 'VM Classic for iPad' and will not receive any further feature updates. It will still be able to download and share reviews, photos and the other great content Vegas Mate users are used to.
The upgrade to the upcoming universal app will be free for existing owners of 'Vegas Mate for iPhone'. I'm aware that there may be some users that purchased only the iPad version and do not own a license for the iPhone version. I'll do my best to work with you so that you're satisfied, within the constraints of the App Store system. We'll cross that bridge when we get closer to the release.
Vegas Mate 3.0 is scheduled to be released before the end of 2010.
Yours truly has a piece running over with our good friends at VegasTripping.com about mobile apps in the hotel and casino industry and why they're all missing the mark.
I've closed comments here because I'd rather you comment over there on the story itself.
Yes, it's true... our first iPad contest back in March was a huge success - so much so, it's time to do it again!
You can win one of Apple's shiny new tablets to be your very own, simply by submitting reviews of your favorite hotels, restaurants and activities into our iPhone/iPad app, Vegas Mate, or view the Web site at RateVegas.com.
The winner will be announced LIVE during the Vegas Podcast-a-palooza on October 30th at The Flamingo.
All the details after the jump.
This morning, I awoke to an MGM press release announcing their new iPhone app, featuring augmented reality. Of course, anything iPhone and Vegas related immediately gets me interested so I dug in.
For those unfamiliar, augmented reality (AR) is a technique by which a user sees a live video stream with computer graphics overlaid, based on their location. So for instance, you hold up your phone and on the screen you see what the camera lens sees but with information painted on top, typically points of interest, etc...
This app, Vegas Reality, is in the App Store now and I took it for a little spin. This will probably sound like sour grapes to some but honestly, I wasn't all that impressed. The app has several downsides in my mind. First, it only includes MGM Mirage stuff. Understandable I guess but that means that over half The Strip has no annotations at all.
Once you drill down on a resort, there's a little bit of high-level information, less than you'd find on a typical resort Web site. The augmented reality bit only shows you the names of the resorts around you, basically the same info you'd get from reading the marquee.
The app does integrate Twitter, a feature that's also in the forthcoming 2.6 version of Vegas Mate for the iPhone.
All that said, the app is free (search for 'mgm mirage' in the App Store) so there's no risk if you want to try it for yourself. If you're not in Vegas, it simulates your location as being at the corner of Tropicana and LVB. The app requires an iPhone 3GS or greater and does not work on the iPod touch at all.
One important question - AR requires the use of the video camera but that technology was recently banned at Luxor and Excalibur. Is this app not welcome there either?
I actually built about half of an AR feature for Vegas Mate 2.5 but I dropped it for an important reason - augmented reality isn't very useful in most real-world situations! Walking around with a phone in front of you isn't very desirable and due to the limitations of GPS technology, it doesn't work well inside, a place where something like this could be awesome if done right. Maybe someday, if we can get this kind of thing embedded into sunglasses...
I can imagine the pitch meeting for this app - AR looks fantastic in a demo but most users try it once and then put it back down. The AR revolution never took off. Trust me, we won't see people walking down The Strip, phones held aloft looking for these annotations anytime soon.
I expect more and more apps for all platforms from the resort companies. So far though, they're treating them more like they would Web sites. If they want to really knock people's socks off, they need to understand this is a new medium and adjust strategy accordingly.
This shows that sort of thinking but with a technology itself (AR) that's a bit half-baked.
I'm prepping updates to both versions of Vegas Mate, coming very soon.
Vegas Mate for iPad 1.2: Submitted to Apple a few days ago, it features proper landscape support as well as a few other tweaks. It's a relatively minor update.
Vegas Mate for iPhone 2.6: A bigger update than the iPad version with photos, Twitter integration, some UI tweaks, global search and a lot of other changes. I hope to have this submitted by the end of the week.
Both updates will be free for existing customers.
I'm excited to get these out to folks, especially the iPhone update, which has been in the works for awhile. After this, the next update will be for the iPad and include a big new feature. Following that, a major overhaul of the iPhone version, something I'm not ready to discuss yet.
In addition, both products now have dedicated Web sites with product info and support questions, including screen casts if you're not familiar with how the products work.
Happy to announce that we have winners (yes, more than one!) in our first major contest.
The grand prize winner is 'Eric', who won a $500 Apple gift card so that he can pick up an iPad! Eric, check your Yahoo.com e-mail to see if you're the Eric I'm talking about.
If Eric doesn't get back to me by 7pm tomorrow night, I'll pick another grand prize winner and update this blog.
Since I got so many great entries, I wanted to have more than one prize. I awarded two second place prizes, $100 Apple gift cards:
* Kara C.
* Eric R.
I've already heard from Eric. For Kara, the same rules apply - 24 hours to get back to me, as stated in the email I sent you earlier today.
I was floored by the quantity and quality of responses to this contest. So much so that I'm working on my next giveaway. This was a lot of fun and generated over 2,000 new reviews in the Vegas Mate database, something that benefits everyone that uses the app. Win-win-win (Wynn?)
Anyway, please stay tuned for info on upcoming contests and a huge thank you to everyone that participated. I truly wish I could give everyone an iPad.
As for Vegas Mate, on the iPhone I'm working hard on version 2.6 which will include photo galleries, some Twitter integration and a few other improvements. On the iPad, I'm working on 1.2, which will include an entirely new landscape mode. It's funny, until I had an actual iPad to use, I didn't realize how little I'd be holding it in portrait, so I need to re-do the UI a bit for the iPad app. Both updates will be free for existing users.
I'm working on a Vegas Mate update and one of the things I'm looking for are great Vegas tourist tips.
You have any great tips to share? If so, leave 'em in the comments and I may use them in a future update!
One of my favorite tips: if dining alone, many restaurants have a bar that you can often just walk up to, reservation or not.
Our iPad giveaway contest is now coming to a close and this Thursday, 7pm PT, we will pick a winner LIVE on UStream.
Here's the URL for the live stream:
NOTE: You don't have to be present to win but the original rule about contact within 24 hours applies. Details in the original post.
If you need a reminder what this contest is all about, there's still time to enter:
Just a reminder that we're giving away an Apple iPad on May 6th to a random person leaving reviews through Vegas Mate or through RateVegas.com.
All the details are here:
Enter and win!
Vegas Gang is back!
Win an iPad! Details here: http://www.ratevegas.com/blog/2010/03/submit_your_veg.html
* Station Casinos Re-Org
* CityCenter's First Hundred Days
* CityCenter vs. Perini
* Atlantic City Mini-Casinos
* Closure of CalNeva
Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to email@example.com.
I'm starting a contest and giving away an Apple iPad as the prize!
The more reviews you submit, the more chances you have to win. It's that simple.
Have some opinions after your last trip? Share 'em - win a prize...
Full details after the jump.
NOTE: This contest is now closed.
Last Friday, Apple told developers that in order to be considered for the App Store at the launch of the iPad on April 3rd, we had until this coming Saturday, the 27th, the get our apps in to even be considered for Day Zero. I wasn't sure if I was going to have something ready but there's nothing like a deadline to get your ass in gear.
I've been working on iPad concepts since the device was announced in January. For the first three weeks, I doodled and fiddled but didn't really produce much and wasn't sure what direction my apps would take. I've always known I wanted to do something along the lines of Vegas Mate but it wasn't clear how that would translate to the larger display - a significant user interface adjustment.
Well, I'm, happy to announce that v1.0 of Vegas Mate for iPad has been submitted to Apple for review. I can't tell you if it will be in the App Store on 4/3 but we've got a good chance.
Continue after the jump to learn more and see what the thing looks like.
Vegas Mate, my Las Vegas travel guide for the iPhone and iPod Touch, is about to be updated again, to version 2.5. This will be the tenth update to Vegas Mate since it was originally released in August 2008.
What's new in this version? Nearly 13,000 words of updated or brand new content, along with some other tweaks and enhancements.
As I look at the future of Vegas Mate and other related apps (ahem, iPad ahem), I see good content as being right at the core of delivering a top-notch product. With that in mind, I hired my good friend, highly acclaimed freelancer Steve Friess to produce a few words (sometimes more than just a few) on virtually all of the hotels in the Vegas Mate database.
The result is a fantastic update full of a ton of information (some of which was new to me!) I couldn't be more happy with the way it has turned out and I'm sure you'll love it too. It's really fantastic.
My plan is to submit 2.5 to Apple in the next few days so it should be available relatively soon - maybe a week from now if the stars align properly. Vegas Mate updates are free to all existing customers.
In other news, I'm happy to say that a new Vegas Mate Web site is practically done (I cringe whenever I look at the current VM site). It features more info on the app as well as several screen casts showing the app in action.
This time on the show:
* Fontainebleau + Ichan
* Resort Fees
* Harrah's + Planet Hollywood
* Harrah's iPhone App
* Vegas Gang Trivia Episode #1
Check out the show: http://www.vegasgangpodcast.com/2010/01/vegas-gang-43-january-21st-2010
Feel free to leave comments below. Trivia questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org - we might use yours on the show.
The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that Harrah's will be launching an iPhone app sometime this month.
This sort of thing is inevitable - I expect more of this to come.
What's not really mentioned in the article though - GPS doesn't really work indoors. On the iPhone, it falls back to cell-tower triangulation which is not very accurate (it could tell you that you were on The Strip but not that you were specifically inside Caesars) - that's a problem that I combat with Vegas Mate too. I'd invest in high-quality interior maps if I could use them that way.
Now, the other way an iPhone can locate itself is through registered Wi-Fi access points - if Harrah's is installing and registering Wi-Fi stations, that would improve the ability to locate indoors (for Vegas Mate too - it all works the same way). That would be great for everyone.
The author also refers to the app 'text messaging' users. I assume they mean Push Notifications, which are like text messages but are not really the same thing. It's a pretty high level article so I guess the specific details aren't too terribly important.
I haven't tried the app yet but I certainly will. In the meantime, the far more comprehensive Vegas Mate is on sale this week for the bargain price of $1.99.
Update: Is this 'Caesars Palace' app on the App Store the app they're talking about? If so, it's already out... and quite basic. Looks like basically a brochure in app form. Also, it appears to download each screen of data as you move through the app. That means it won't work offline for iPod Touch users. If this is the app they're talking about, count me underwhelmed.
Vegas Mate for iPhone and iPod Touch is on sale this week in honor of CES 2010. Instead of a normal price of $4.99, it's $3 off - just $1.99. This week only.
Enjoy kiddies. In other news, I bought an Android 'Nexus One' phone to test and to learn more about Android programming. No promises about VM for other platforms but you never know.
Vegas Mate 2.0, the latest release of our popular iPhone application for Las Vegas tourists, is now available via the iTunes App Store (opens in iTunes). 2.0 is a free upgrade for existing users and costs $4.99 for new users.
Vegas Mate is an interactive, location enabled travel guide that includes tons of information about hotels/restaurants/attractions both on and off The Strip, as well as user reviews and other useful information. This release represents months of work - most of the app internals were re-written to take advantage of iPhone OS 3.0 and beyond, which is required for this release.
Here's a sample of the new features:
* Over-the-Air Content Updates - We can now push out content updates over the air without having to push a new release through iTunes. This means we can be more current with the constant openings and closings in Las Vegas.
* Restaurant Menus - Many of the restaurants now include viewable menus.
* Favorites - Mark hotels, restaurants and activities as favorites, useful for trip planning and re-visiting top spots.
* News and Events - Read news stories from many Vegas sources ; view upcoming events.
* Massively improved map system.
* Updated user interface.
Special thanks to all that helped test the release, with extra special thanks to Joe P., Chuck S. Monster, and Mike Ch.
A screen cast of v2.0 is available here: Vegas Mate Screen Cast
Releases of Vegas Mate will continue in earnest - there's a list of features for 2.1 and beyond already on the drawing board and I expect a 2.0.1 with a few little bug-fixes will be in the works soon.
Happy to be back after a little bit of a break. Lots to talk about, as always.
* MGM Mirage Expands to Egypt
* Tropicana Atlantic City Sells to Ichan
* Fontainebleau Files Chapter 11
* City of Dreams Opens on Cotai
Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to email@example.com.
The first version of Vegas Mate was released in August of last year. It was my first effort for the iPhone, which at that time had just started allowing developers like me to create applications to be sold on the iTunes App Store. I'm very happy with how Vegas Mate has done since then. I don't disclose sales figures but there are thousands upon thousands of happy users and it seems to be going strong. So what's coming next? Lots.
In March, Apple gave us developers insight into new features they were adding in iPhone OS 3.0. This free iPhone system upgrade ($10 bucks on iPod Touch) includes stuff like copy and paste, MMS, integrated searching and a lot more. Under the covers, there are a ton of new hooks and tools that developers can use to make their software better. With this in mind, I began working on Vegas Mate 2.0 to incorporate the new stuff.
iPhone OS 3.0 will be released next Wednesday the 17th and I'm hoping that Vegas Mate 2 will follow about a month later. It's basically a complete re-write, taking advantage of many of the new features that Apple provided. The revised plumbing allowed me to add a few things I've wanted in there for quite awhile.
Vegas Mate 2.0 will be a free update for all existing users and yes, it will run on the upcoming iPhone 3GS announced this week.
Here's some of what's new in Vegas Mate 2.0:
* Over-the-Air Content Updates - existing versions of Vegas Mate required a full update via the App Store to get content changes in there. I've done 9 updates since last August but with how quickly Vegas is changing, I wanted something far closer to real-time. Now all content updates will occur wirelessly from our server.
* News, Promos and Events - I'm integrating some popular RSS feeds as well as info on current promotions and events. This isn't designed to take the place of a regular news tool, just a quick hit of info for travelers that's Vegas specific. More about how this works as we get closer to the release.
* Designate Hotels, Restaurants and Activities as Favorites for Quick Access - There are hundreds of items in the Vegas Mate database. Users can now mark items as 'favorites' and see them from a new screen. This should hopefully make trip planning with Vegas Mate easier.
* Restaurant Menus - Where available, I am adding the ability to view restaurant menus from the app. VM2 will launch with a number of restaurants that will quickly expand.
* Live, Google Maps Right in the App - The current version of Vegas Mate has maps but they didn't include all of the richness that the native 'Maps' application provides. That's all changed now with full maps embedded right into the app.
* Updated User Interface - The UI has received a lot of spit and polish all over the place.
* New Content - As always, the quantity and quality of in-app content has increased.
Now, it's possible I may change some of these features before launch but it's looking pretty dialed in at this point. I love working on Vegas Mate and I'm glad that so many of you enjoy it too. I've got a 'potential features' list a mile long but I always like to hear other ideas, even if I don't end up using them.
We're back with another episode! It can be downloaded here.
This time around we discuss:
* Boyd Offers to Buy Station Assets
* Wynn Resorts Q4 2008
* iPhone Card Counting Software Makes the Rounds
* 2008 Gaming Abstract Figures
* M Resort Opens Sunday
Feel free to leave your comments below.
Vegas Mate 1.5 has been released on Apple's iTunes App Store.
This new version, free for existing users, includes several new features:
* Ability to filter restaurants by cuisine or cost.
* Group 'Expert Help' by category.
* Drastically increased amount of 'Expert Help'.
* Several user interface enhancements.
* Tons of great new Vegas content.
If you're not already a Vegas Mate user, it's available in the App Store here.
Do you publish a Vegas Web site or blog and have an iPhone or iPod Touch?
If so, send an email to vegasmate AT ratevegas DOT com and request your free code to our Vegas Mate application.
While supplies last (Apple limits the number of codes we can give out).
I've posted a new screen cast for Vegas Mate to its site, for those that are curious what the app looks like.
Also, a special thanks to Matt Farley who was kind enough to submit some content updates for the Downtown hotels.
I'm happy to announce that Vegas Mate 1.1.0 has been released (opens in iTunes). As with all updates, this is free for existing customers.
The biggest new feature in this version is the ability to read, write and share reviews and ratings for everything we cover, right from your iPhone or iPod Touch. No more waiting until you get home to rant about how great (or terrible) something was.
The reviews are sent to our RateVegas.com database and shared with other Vegas Mate users.
Along with that, there's a ton of other little tweaks and improvements. More info, including a video walk-through, is here: http://www.vegasmateforiphone.com
Are you a Vegas Mate user (thanks)? Has it been helpful for you? Feel free to submit a review in iTunes - it helps quite a bit when users do this.
As Chuck at VegasTripping.com notes, the Eastside Cannery opens tonight.
I don't have this hotel in the RV or Vegas Mate databases yet and it brings me back to a question I've been asking myself for some time - should I remove a lot of the 'locals' joints from RateVegas and Vegas Mate?
Those pages get far less traffic than Strip and even Downtown properties and having them there means more upkeep and more data to clutter navigation. Is it worth it?
I'm sure I'd keep places like GVR and Red Rock and of course The Palms, Rio and other near-Strip joints. I'm talking about nixing the Fiesta, Texas Station, etc... If I'm going to do it, now is the time, especially for the iPhone app. Thoughts?
My first iPhone application, Vegas Mate, has been published to the iTunes App Store.
More information is here:
to see the listing in the store (opens in iTunes) click here:
The app has been 'in review' for over a week and I already have a significant update ready that includes three dozen new hotel reviews and a few bug fixes - that will be sent to Apple shortly.
Unlike paper-based travel guides, Vegas Mate's content updates will be consistent and available for free.
Vegas Mate uses the location-aware nature of the iPhone and iPod Touch to help you sort through the hundreds of choice on and near The Strip.
I'm proud of the app and excited about features I want to add down the road as well as other apps I want to build. It's only getting more interesting from here on out!
Steve Friess has a great article in the Las Vegas Weekly about digital media and Las Vegas.
Clearly, something I'm interested in. Besides the podcast and this site, I just submitted my first Las Vegas related iPhone/iPod Touch application, Vegas Mate, to the iTunes App Store for review - it should be for sale very soon.
I'd love to do another Podcast-a-palooza and have main-stream media participating - it could take the event another couple of notches above where it was this year. I have hope.
Greenspun owned Vegas.com has launched a mobile site for cell phones and smart phones featuring show and event info, as well as some hotel and restaurant data. They also have a text messaging interface for some cell data.
It seems like a reasonable first effort, though the mobile site does require a ton of link clicking/tapping to get to the goods. I expect it to improve and maybe someday be the primary driver of their business.
Anyone that's followed this site for any period of time knows that I'm pretty bullish on mobile for stuff like this. I've had a cell phone/BlackBerry site for 2 years, an iPhone optimized site for one year and in maybe a month or so, a native iPhone app that integrates with the GPS for even more 'wow' factor (I was just going over icons with the designer today).
Vegas Gang #10 is up - http://www.vegasgangpodcast.com
This episode focuses on the CityCenter walkout and the economy vs. Las Vegas. We cover a few stories on the specifics, including an entry suggesting that LVS is heading for Chapter 11. That may be an extreme outcome but its an interesting discussion point.
Also, a little bit on the iPhone and its impact on Las Vegas.
Enjoy the show and feel free to post your comments here.
UPDATE: Stiffs and George's has a story about Palazzo's underwhelming performance: http://www.lasvegasadvisor.com/blogs/dmckee/index.cfm/2008/6/13/Oops-he-did-it-again
So, I know it's no secret - I've mentioned it before on the podcast and in comments here - I will be releasing an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch specifically for Las Vegas travelers.
I'm not going to reveal too much now but it will include a ton of useful info, updated regularly and much of it prepared specifically for the new app. There will also be a couple of things that take advantage of the device's special features like ability to determine it's location.
I've been working hard on this for a few months - I had a learning curve in getting used to the tools that Apple provided.
So, when will this be out? It'll be at least a few more weeks before I start a real testing program and then release shortly afterwards. I haven't set a price either, but it will be inexpensive and I hope for anyone that visits Las Vegas regularly, very worthwhile.
I'll be announcing more details here in the future, so if you're interested, stay tuned.
If you run a Las Vegas blog, podcast or Web site and have an iPhone/iPod Touch, drop me a line at (editor at ratevegas dot com) - I will be providing free copies for you to test out and tell your readers about.