August 2, 2010

Got apps?

Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH — A touch of a screen can settle where to eat or what to do in Montreal.

If you own an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, thank Steven Howell, the creator of Sutro Media's app, "Montreal Essential Guide."

App is short for applications, and there are thousands of apps for travel, language translators, stock prices and sports scores.

"There's an app for everything," said Howell, a Press-Republican contributing writer, who is author of five travel guides including "Great Destinations Montreal & Quebec City" and "Photographers Guide to Montreal & Quebec City" published by the Countryman Press.

San Francisco-based Sutro Media approached Howell about creating the "Montreal Essential Guide." Founded by Tobin Fisher and Kevin Collins, Sutro Media is "a new kind of app publishing company, bridges the gap between traditional print media and new media outlets."

"The company is named after an iconic landmark in the area called Twin Peaks," Howell said. "It's a broadcasting tower called Sutro Tower."

Sutro Media vets local author-experts like Howell to write specific apps for broad and niche travel markets such as "In Love in Paris" by Jean Moreau, "Boston Essential Guide" by Kim Grant and "Viva Las Vega, Baby!" by Sara Benson.

"The beauty of it is it's much more up-to-date than any book you will have," Howell said. "If a restaurant closes in Montreal, I can remove it. If it's already printed and published, there's no way I can change and remove it."

A perfect example is his listing of the Montreal Biodome.

"It's currently closed because of a labor dispute. I was able to add a comment to my entry. As soon as I type that comment in, people can comment. It's almost real time."

With 200 listings and 800 photographs, the guide is user-friendly and updated bi-weekly. It's available at for $2.99.

"People standing on a street corner with their iPhone can say, 'What do you want to eat or what do you want to do?' You can make your decision and go there. If you click on the map within the entry, it will give you directions. It knows exactly where you are."

Entries are between 50 and 100 words with complementary photographs. Categories include "Architecture," "Cheap Eats & Tasty Treats," "Eat Montreal," "Family Friendly," "Festivals & Special Events," "Gay Montreal," "Info Center," "Montreal Originals," "Museums & Art," "Night Life," "Outside," "Performance," "Road Trips" and "Unique Boutiques."

"Montreal Essential Guide" went live July 18.

"It's already getting hits and downloads. It's marketed in app media outlets and app blogs as well as traditional media — print, radio, broadcast and magazines," Howell said. "I'm already working on a Quebec City app. That's going live in August. I'm doing one for the Adirondacks, 'Adirondack A-OK.'"

E-mail Robin Caudell at: