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Our Favorite Walking Tour App Is Free Before It Shuts Down

By Matthew Phenix

04.27.18

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Peter Coyote’s chatty tour of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is one of the highlights of the soon-to-be-lost Detour library.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Peter Coyote’s chatty tour of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is one of the highlights of the soon-to-be-lost Detour library.

Gobbled up by Bose, the excellent Detour app is going away soon. Until then, though, its brilliant trove of narrated neighborhood explorations is yours for the taking.

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Detour, we hardly knew ye. The audio walking tour app for iOS and Android devices, launched to acclaim in 2015, is going away, gobbled up lock, stock, and barrel by the mighty headphone maker, Bose. But there’s a silver lining: From today until the lights go out on May 31, every tour—and there are dozens of them, including walks in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, and the company’s hometown, San Francisco—is completely free. The tours were formerly available as individual in-app purchases.

The location-aware app—launched by Andrew Mason, the cofounder and ex-CEO of Groupon—is one of the very best uses of your smartphone’s GPS chip: Detour knows exactly where you are on the route and pipes into your ears pinpoint-perfect commentary from locally relevant narrators. (“You see that pink house across the street to the right?” asks actor and author Peter Coyote during a tour of his old stomping grounds, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. “That’s where Janis Joplin lived.”

The app also experimented indoors, producing a terrific series of 15- to 45-minute tours of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art with such eclectic narrators as documentary filmmaker Errol Morris and famed French highwire artist Phillipe Petit.

And although Detour’s library of tours—and the app itself—will disappear at the end of May, Mason suggested in an email to users that the content would reappear in Bose’s upcoming augmented reality platform. 

Download the Detour app here. And go for a walk.

>>Next: Essential Gear for Serious Walkers
 

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