From watersports to boating tips, St. John App has tons of information about Love City.
After getting his feet wet in the smart phone application design field with walking tours of European cities, long-time part-time resident Ignacio Willford has started to focus a little closer to home.
“I started with a travel app for doing walking tours for major European cities,” said Willford. “I have Rome done and everything I need to bring Paris and Prague on line. I came down here this time to finish my European apps and said, ‘Why not do one for St. John.’”
Willford, who has been spending time on St. John for a decade, developed the St. John App last fall and already a few hundred people have downloaded the app. St. John App is available for iPhones for $1.99, with free updates, and Willford is currently working on an Android version as well.
The easy to use app includes everything a vacationer might want to know about the island, from beaches and hiking trails to helpful tips and driving maps. While hand-held maps contain some of the information found on St. John App, Willford’s beach maps also include maps of the best snorkeling areas, all just by tapping the page.
Another highlight of the app is that once its downloaded, the information is contained on the phone, so spotty cell service won’t stop one from pulling up a snorkeling map of Francis Bay.
“Connection is so sporadic in many areas; one of the great things about the app is that once you download it, it all lives on your phone,” said Willford. “You don’t need to have cell phone service to access the maps or information.”
Restaurant and bar listings for both Cruz Bay and Coral Bay are included, at no charge, along with phone numbers just a tap away, the use of which does rely on phone service for calling.
Looking for an activity? Everything from Carolina Corral to Sadie Sea is listed and St. John App users can call the businesses by just tapping the screen.
The St. John App also includes educational material including a historical time line of the island and driving tours with historical information. Beautiful photographs, from a manta ray at Francis Bay to a sea turtle at Leinster Bay — some of which were taken by Matt Horvat, help keep the viewer engaged as well.
There is also useful information about snorkeling safely, the best parking areas and the best way to get around the island.
While the app is the perfect vacation companion for tourists, even local residents have been seen using the user-friendly app, Willford added.
“It’s an easy way to find all these phone numbers if you’re looking for a restaurant or a boat charter,” he said.
With no special training on smart phone application designs — except for programming experience as a special effects artist in L.A. — Willford created the St. John App in a few shorts months.
“I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted the app to function, so I just learned how to do it,” said Willford. “It was a good two to three months of programming and several months of putting it together and going out and taking pictures that I didn’t have.”
Willford also designed a complementary website, www.thestjohnapp.com, which features fast facts, helpful tips and music and special events happening across the island.
Already several hundred people have downloaded St. John App and Willford hasn’t even advertised.
“I didn’t want to advertise it at first because I wanted to see people use it and I really wanted it to be something people liked,” he said.
If the overwhelmingly positive response from users is any indication, Willford has reached his goal. For more information about St. John App, check out the website www.thestjohnapp.com.