Armchair audio tours

It can feel a little bit like magic when VoiceMap tours point out a revealing detail at exactly the right moment, to show you something you’d normally walk by without a sideways glance. But it’s actually a spell that has been carefully produced by our editors, who help every single one of our publishers with the ins and outs of automatic GPS playback.

That’s why we’re surprised by our data, which suggests that for a surprising number of VoiceMap’s listeners, automatic playback doesn’t matter at all. In fact, over the last 12 months, about 15% of them have started tours more than 100 kilometres from their starting points. And about a quarter have used the VoiceMap app’s Continuous Play feature, which is designed for listeners who might be at home washing the dishes, or on their way to work – or on an aeroplane at the start of a trip.

How to use VoiceMap like an audio book or podcast

The starting point screen for Annie Sargent's tour Montmartre: More than Meets the Eye.
The starting point screen for Annie Sargent’s tour Montmartre: More than Meets the Eye. Continuous Play is at the bottom right.

There are three ways to play a VoiceMap tour once you’ve downloaded it:

  1. Start Tour, which has a button that activates when you’re close to the starting point
  2. Resume, which starts the tour at the location closest to you, wherever you are
  3. Continuous Play

If you select either Start Tour or Resume, VoiceMap uses automatic GPS playback. After audio at one location ends, you only hear the next location’s audio when you get there – or you skip tracks manually. Continuous Play works differently: GPS playback is disabled, and the tour plays one location after the other, from beginning to end. Continue reading “Armchair audio tours” »

How to Record Your Voice Using Apps for iOS and Android

Not everyone is an audiophile, into the latest and greatest amplifiers and Hi-Fi’s, or a Sound Engineer with the know-how of the properties of noise, or even a techie nerd into all things gadgety. And that’s OK. I am all of the above and I’m here to (try and) help you!

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re wanting to record some audio on your phone, and get decent results. But, you’re not sure where to begin…

Well, most phones have some sort of recording app already, but it’s probably quite limited in functionality, and quality – and for the purposes of your recording, we want the best audio that is possible! No point in making a recording that has incomprehensible, unusable sound, right? Right!

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Storytelling in Games vs. Location-Aware Fiction

Kate Gorman is a storyteller with a background in theatre, film, and writing novels. She’s passionate about sci-fi, virtual realities and, naturally, Star Trek. To her, getting her own holodeck – a virtual reality facility from the Star Trek Universe, often used for participating in interactive stories or recreating familiar environments – would be a dream come true. But sadly, we don’t live in the future yet and creating such a device would cost a lot of money, so instead she used what is available to her : location-aware, GPS storytelling. Making use of a real-world environment, she produced a four-episode audio walk series in Washington D.C. using VoiceMap’s storytelling platform, creating a sensory experience that is similar to what someone in a virtual, interactive reality might have.  

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Recording Great Audio on iOS Devices

Creating a walking tour with VoiceMap is easy and lots of fun, but there are also a few new things to be learned. Recording the best possible quality audio for your walk will mean more people enjoying and sharing your route. Remember, during a walk, your voice is all they have! This tutorial will help you to create the best possible audio using your iOS device.

Installing a Voice Recorder

1. Go to the iTunes store and download Recordium (free).

00-recordium-logo

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How to Effectively Link to Your Audio Tour Online

There are a few things you can do to maximise the effectiveness of a link to your audio tour so that it helps bring in search traffic from Google. Think of this post as a very brief beginners guide to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Keywords are key

The text that you use to link to your audio tour in an article, blog post, or press release influences how easily people find your tour in a Google search. Using a plain URL (www.voicemap.me, for instance) or the word “here” does very little to help people find your tour using Google. Instead, try and identify the most effective link text.

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How to Create Promotional Content for your Audio Tour

There are plenty of different types of promotional content that will help you boost your audio tour’s sales. Read on for four that are effective and easy to create.

Q&As

Q&As are a great way to communicate a bit about who you are, why you created your audio tour, and what people will get out of the experience. They’re also quick to put together, and often easier to get published elsewhere than press releases.

We’ve come up with a handful of questions to save you time (and spare you the awkwardness of having a Q&A session with yourself!) Answer the questions that appeal most, add an introductory sentence or two, and you’re ready to send the finished product to blogs or publications that may like to publish it. Don’t forget to add a link to your tour on appropriate keywords.

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Creative and Time-Efficient Ways to Promote your Audio Tour

In Cape Town, the locations along several of our city centre routes are intriguingly marked with geotag-shaped stickers, and it really gets people talking. The stickers invite passers-by to “listen to stories from the District Six Museum” – or The Book Lounge, or Mogalakwena Gallery – and list a couple of the audio walks that feature this particular location, with instructions for downloading them.

The businesses and organisations we approach are generally thrilled to hear that they are already included (at no cost) in the commentary of a walk that passes right by their door. In those cases, placing a custom-made sticker in their window is a win-win situation – assuming that the commentary is flattering, of course.

Location-aware audio connects a voice to a place. The real trick is finding ways to inform people that the voice – and the story – exists. Stickers, posters and signage are among the most effective ways of doing that.

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4 Questions that your Press Release Should Answer

Audio tour apps are exciting and new, so getting websites and other publications to run a press release or article about yours shouldn’t be difficult. Press releases are a great way of communicating to specific audiences, and editors are often happy to have the work taken out of writing something themselves.

We’ve done our best to take some of the work out of the process for you, too. Read on to find plenty of examples from press releases – which you can reword to reflect your own personality – along with the four essential questions that a press release promoting your audio tour should answer.

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9 Tips for Sharing Your VoiceMap

If you’ve ever shared something you created online, you’ll probably have experienced the positive network effects for yourself. But how do you go beyond your personal sphere of influence, and into the world? VoiceMap’s major sources of both visitors and customers are Facebook and Twitter, and here we give you a few tips on how to optimize your interactions on social media.

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Recording Great Audio on Android Devices

Creating a VoiceMap audio tour is easy, intuitive and a great way to tell your stories, but there are also a few new things to be learned. Recording the best possible quality audio for your tour will mean more people enjoying and sharing it. It’s your voice that will be giving directions and telling stories, so this tutorial will help you to create the best possible audio using your Android device.

Installing a Voice Recorder

1. Go to the Google Play store and download Smart Voice Recorder (free).

smart-voice-recorder-logo

Continue reading “Recording Great Audio on Android Devices” »

Looking past the obvious in LA: Aric Allen on Hollywood

“Location-aware audio walk” doesn’t trip off the tongue, does it? It’s a phrase for a technical medium, with lots of moving parts, and sometimes VoiceMap’s storytellers get bogged down by all of our publishing tool’s many mechanics.

The result is a list of facts instead of stories, with the things that are physically most obvious at the forefront – the monuments, buildings, and landmarks that get mapped out right at the beginning of the process – instead of the stories that made the walk compelling in the first place.

Continue reading “Looking past the obvious in LA: Aric Allen on Hollywood” »

Using a GPS Logger

When you start your VoiceMap, the first step is plotting your route. If your route goes through a city, it’s easy to do using our online tool. Landmarks and streets are easily visible, and you can flip between the map, satellite photographs and street view. But for routes on outdoor paths, it can be hard to see where to put the line. Isolating small landmarks that aren’t visible on maps is tricky too, and it’s best to use a GPS logger application.

Continue reading “Using a GPS Logger” »