USA Today is hoping to cash in on the wave of interest in new iPhone applications with a travel-related service, AutoPilot, which became available Wednesday at the Apple App Store.
Sponsored by Hampton Hotels, the free app's features allow the user to stay abreast of trip and flight itineraries, orient themselves with a GPS-enabled location tracker, find and contact travel service providers like rental cars and hotels through a digital directory, stay abreast of weather conditions and read USA Today's travel-related blogs. AutoPilot's flight-tracking feature includes up-to-the-minute information about 16,000 airports, 1,400 airlines and 100,000 daily flights.
Hampton Hotels' sponsorship gets the brand a number of special customized integrations -- including the ability to map hotel locations and book hotel reservations, as well as a directory and suggestions for local restaurants and entertainment around each of Hampton's 1,700 properties across the U.S.
This is just the latest in a series of mobile initiatives from USA Today publisher Gannett. In 2008, Gannett acquired a stake in text4info, a mobile service that enables the newspaper publisher to leverage its directory information via mobile devices with SMS codes.
Also on Wednesday, the newspaper unveiled a new multi-publication content offering created in partnership with Tecnavia Press. Subscriptions for USA Today's e-edition can now be purchased as part of a bundle of subscriptions for e-editions of other local and regional newspapers, all created by Tecnavia.
Tecnavia's e-editions are exact replicas of the printed newspapers, enhanced with digital functionality, including audio-read-back, search, downloads and emailing of individual articles, text enlargement, video and live Web links.