FlightTrack 5

Even if you've previously bought FlightTrack and FlightTrack Pro, you'll have to pony up again for this new app

Mobiata's FlightTrack app has long been a go-to app for frequent fliers — myself included. But it's always been a rather complicated affair. There was the original FlightTrack, which cost $4.99. The FlightTrack Pro download added the ability to sync with Tripit (which manages multiple itineraries with ease), but that cost another $4.99. And then the app largely remained unchanged over the years, as far as design was concerned. Loads of functionality, but it was looking stale.

Then in August 2012, Mobiata introduced FlightTrack Free. As the name implies, it cost nothing — and it brought a much improved app design. But it didn't sync with Tripit, which made a non-starter for many frequent fliers.

Now, we've got FlightTrack 5. A single app, which can be yours for another $2.99. But gone is the Tripit integration. Instead, you'll have to input flights manually, one at a time. The app does recognize when two legs are part of the same trip and links them together, which is good. But having to add four or six flights at a time is annoying — and well worth a few extra bucks to those of us that have to do frequently.

The good news is if you have the original FlightTrack (and FlightTrack Pro) installed, they'll continue to work. Also, Mobiata says it's working to make up for the missing functionality.

FlightTrack 5

In a recent blog post, a Mobiata "user happiness lead" wrote,

With the launch of FlightTrack 5 today, some of you expressed surprise about the new app’s lack of a TripIt integration feature. We share your frustration. Although we built and tested TripIt integration during FlightTrack 5’s development, we have not been given the necessary permission to enable this feature in the app. As a result, we are exploring our options and considering alternatives so that you can continue to easily import flights into the app.

Other features worth mentioning in the new app: You can tag individual travelers from your contacts, see if a plane has Wifi, push trips to your calendar and zoom in on approximate locations on the map.

Update: So, a couple of updates to this story. In a Nov. 22 blog post, TripIt suggests that those who miss TripIt support in FlightTrack 5 should either use the old version of FlightTrack — or use Tripit's own app. Supposedly folks "impacted" by the change will receive an e-mail offering for you to start using the Tripit Pro service. (No idea how long any free service might last — or if it'll be free in the first place).

And today, Nov. 25, Tripit attempts to explain even further:

I wanted to take a moment to clear up some rumors that began circulating on Friday evening. Mobiata’s launch of FlightTrack 5 without TripIt integration led some to conclude that we had shut off API access to Mobiata.

Our API remains open and there were no changes made. In fact, it still powers FlightTrack Pro. So while there is no agreement in place to support FlightTrack 5, FlightTrack Pro users can continue to benefit from the capabilities enabled by TripIt.

Thank you for sharing your feedback. We take your opinions very seriously.

It's still very unclear why FlightTrack 5 is unable to use Tripit's "open" API. No matter what the reason, it's the users who are feeling the impact.

More: Mobiata blog