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Google steps up travel presence with dedicated trip-planning app

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Google unveiling a new smartphone app that helps users plan and organize their trips, extending the tech giant's step-by-step entrance into the online travel market.

[TORONTO] Google unveiling a new smartphone app that helps users plan and organize their trips, extending the tech giant's step-by-step entrance into the online travel market.

The app, called Google Trips, automatically pulls details about a user's trip from their Gmail e-mail and recommends restaurants, attractions and "local gems" based on data gleaned from other travellers, Google said Monday in a blog post.

Users can download saved itineraries and reservations so they don't need to worry about cellular coverage when they get to their destination.

Trips adds to the presence of Alphabet Inc's Google in the travel market and steps up the search giant's competition with dedicated travel and review apps such as Yelp Inc and TripAdvisor Inc. Home-sharing startup Airbnb Inc also is working on a trip-planning app of its own. Google's effort also gives people another reason to use the company's Gmail and Maps apps, which feed data into Trips, instead of using similar services offered by rivals like Apple Inc.

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Google has dabbled in trip-planning previously. Its Inbox e-mail app already collects users' flight and hotel reservations and organises them by trip. Mountain View, California-based Google bought the restaurant review firm Zagat in 2011 and travel guide publisher Frommer's a year later to add specialised content to Google Maps.

The Trips app brings that all together. Instead of toggling between Gmail or Inbox, Maps and wherever you saved restaurant recommendations from your friends, Trips lets you do that all in one place.

Still, users won't be able to book activities or restaurants from within the app. These lucrative transactions remain the realm of online travel giants Expedia Inc and Priceline Group Inc, as well as activity-booking startups such as Seattle-based Utrip and San Francisco-based Peek.

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