(Quick note: This will be the last blog article of 2010. We will start again in January bringing you the state parks from the perspective of the park staff. We have really enjoyed this first year of the Arkansas State Parks blog and appreciate your comments. See you in the new year!)
Just in time for the holidays, Arkansas State Parks has offered up a FREE iPhone app for our users. We know this is something that not everyone can use but it is our first step into mobile communications and we hope that those of you with an iPhone will enjoy it. For the rest of you, we are working on ideas for you. The new year will bring many surprises and treats for our online community (including other smartphone users). One of the best ways to keep up with us on the go is through our various social community sites most of which are usable on the smartphones. Below is copy from the news release for the new iPhone app. It explains a little more about why we went in this direction.
For travelers, mobile phones have evolved into hand-held guides for those on the go. Arkansas State Parks has launched its new iPhone app, the Arkansas State Parks On-The-Go Park Guide, a fully interactive and engaging guide to Arkansas’s 52 state parks, according to State Parks Director Greg Butts. Designed by Aristotle Internet of Little Rock, this new mobile application is available for free download from the iTunes Store.
Butts said, “Arkansas State Parks iPhone application offers a new way to stay connected with the state parks while traveling. Besides helping users connect to the diversity of parks throughout Arkansas and the many activities offered in each one, the app will also help us connect to the younger generation of park users.” He continued, “An easy way to download the app is by visiting the Community Page on ArkansasStateParks.com, our park system’s official website. Here you can explore Arkansas State Parks’ blogs and social networks, discover new Arkansas vacation and getaways choices in our state parks, watch videos of the Arkansas state parks, and share travel tips online.” Butts noted that the new app can be downloaded for free at http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/iphone or by searching “Arkansas State Parks” in the Apple iTunes store.
The application’s features include quick access to park information, quick search based on both location and type of park, listings of park programs scheduled for the next two weeks, maps showing where each park is located, quick dial to contact the park, special notices from the parks and/or the state parks director’s office in Little Rock, and quick information on the nearest state park and trails to your present location or the city you will be visiting.
According to Joe Jacobs, manager of Marketing and Revenue for Arkansas State Parks, “Whether you live in Arkansas or are just traveling through our state, the Arkansas State Parks iPhone On-The-Go Park Guide will help you find just the right park for you. Locate a park by type including camping, historic site, lake, lodging, mountains, museum, or search by activities such as picnicking.” He said, “You can find a park near you and get contact information, details on activities and programs, and a link to that park’s website for more information. There’s even a map to help you find the park.”
Jacobs emphasized that the decision to develop an app for the iPhone operating system verses other systems was financial. “In October 2010, the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch phones accounted for over 83 percent of the smartphone access to ArkansasStateParks.com, and with budget limitations, the decision was made to address those users first,” he said. “We are currently researching options to create a mobile environment for other users such as Android and Blackberry, and expect to have something for them in the next year.”
He noted, “One of the most popular outdoor activities to enjoy in an Arkansas state park is hiking, so trails information is an important component of the iPhone app, too. Find a trail near you, look it up by location, difficulty or type. We have trail choices for everyone.”
Updates to include directions to the parks from wherever you are and social media integration are planned soon. “We will continue to improve the app and have already started working on the first update,” said Jacobs.
Also remember you will need to update the phone to iOS 4.1, an Apple requirement, to download the app. Also, the app is fully integrated with our online calendar of events, online trails database and special notices. Hope you have a great holiday season! When it gets crazy around the house, visit a park with your friends and family. In the meantime, see you on Facebook & Twitter!