The British Museum has launched new, smarter audio guides, and we went to try them out

The British Museum has unveiled new audio guides that use Google Maps and an app-like interface to help visitors get around the London landmark.

The new guides are a combination of handheld devices and headphones, with a Highlights section pointing out some of the most famous items housed in the museum as well as where to find them.

The experience itself is impressively simple to work through, because the software is essentially a bespoke app – and we’ve all dealt with those before.

(Martyn Landi/PA)

With the guide there are also eight themed self-guided tours and detailed breakdowns of the different collections and exhibitions, with text and audio available in 10 languages.

The three main sections of the app: Highlights, Take a tour and Explore the Collections give users access to the museums content in different way. The Highlights section is very handy as it serves as a quick breakdown of the most popular things on display – ideal for when the museum is crowded on a Saturday.

(Martyn Landi/PA)

HTC smartphones running a bespoke app on the Android platform are used to provide indoor mapping of the museum, with turn-by-turn directions in place on the tours to help users move from item to item.

The directions are very impressive, including images of points of reference to help you stay on the right track.

(Martyn Landi/PA)

The new guides have been created as part of a collaboration with Korean Air, with the airline having just renewed a partnership with the museum until 2020.

The objects in the gallery have been photographed extensively too, and in high definition so it is possible to zoom in and see details you otherwise might not.

(British Museum)

There will also be a family version of the guide available which includes an on-screen card game for children to play as they visit different parts of the museum. This is in addition to a sign language guide for those with hearing problems, and an audio descriptive guide and separate touchpad for the partially sighted.

The guides have now launched at the museum and can be rented for £5 when you visit.


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