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A Rough Tech's Guide to Istanbul

Several days in Istanbul last week woke me up to the fact that Apple's iPad is not only pervasive and disruptive technology but it's increasingly ubiquitous as well. Only a matter of two years into to its production cycle as a piece of commodity electronics, it shows us the shape of things to come.

Aside from watching other tourists wandering around with their iPads held up in front of them, using its camera to take photographs of Istanbul's magnificent historical sites, my own served two specific purposes.

The first of these was having several guidebook 'apps' and interactive sites, pre-loaded with city maps. Wave goodbye to maps and guide-books, which must be a financial blow to the small army of hawkers outside Hagia Sophia, trying to make a few Turkish Lira, selling both.

There was real comfort being able to explore the old quarter of Istanbul, without any chance of becoming lost. The GPS on my iPad and my iPhone not only gave me an exact position on the city street map but helpfully pointed-out the nearest historical attraction with a direct link into either Wikipedia or the Istanbul tourist guide. Without it, I doubt I would never have discovered the fabulous subterranean cistern museum, hidden away in plain sight.

Trip Advisor is now maturing rapidly as a useful guide to just about everything the business or occasional traveller needs and of course it conveniently suggests the best and most recommended tourist locations within easy walking distance of any GPS position. This is something that restaurants and hotels in many countries desperately need to come to grips with, as they don't realise that their business can be made or killed by bad online reviews.

What comes next in the technology within the next five years is obvious. Augmented reality, either by simply viewing through the iPad or Galaxy screen and camera or through the arrival of Google-driven spectacles.

I'm anticipating to be able to visit the Top Kapi palace museum one day and point my device at any exhibit and have all the historical and item information overlaid on the screen, much like a heads-up display, as already happens on my 'Night Sky' astronomy app on my iPad.

As for what come after this, one can only imagine but in only two short years, 'Rough Guide' tourism has changed forever.

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