Travel site Kayak.com has released its first OS X app, Kayak Explore. The app works as a sort of travel guidebook that helps users make up their minds about what destinations they should explore on their next trip.
When you launch the app, you're presented with a map and five photos, each of which represents a different vacation destination. Beneath the photo, you'll find a price for the trip, including flights and hotel. At the bottom of the screen is a slider with back and next arrows, which cycles through the list of destinations. Adjusting the slider to the left or right allows you to select a price range.
The filter bar allows you to customize the auto-generated vacation destinations. You can select from categories such as romantic, shopping, urban, historic, and more; change your departure airport; adjust the number of travelers and narrow your trip to a specific month. Clicking on any of the destinations brings up a details windows that shows flight prices from different airlines and details about the hotel, such as maps, photos, reviews and rates. If you want to book any of the flights or destinations, click the Book Now button, and it will take you to the provider's website where you can complete your purchase.
I'm a fan of Kayak.com, and I think their Kayak HD app is one of the best travel apps for the iPad. However, the Kayak Explore Mac app seems almost pointless. It's more of a kiosk you'd expect to see at an airport or Kayak's website.
While the effort is appreciated, I hope this isn't a sign of things to come in the Mac App Store: apps that are little more than branding materials for companies, serve little purpose or provide little more than shallow benefits for users.
Kayak Explore is a free download from the Mac App Store.