Oscar-Winner Kevin Costner's Autio App Will Transform Your Next Road Trip

Kevin Costner rose to become a titan of the movie world. In front of and behind the camera, he has a string of accolades. "Dances With Wolves," his masterstroke, defeated the legendary "Goodfellas" at the Oscars, but that's old news. What we really need to know is — where's Costner in the high-octane world of smartphone apps?

Well, that's an interesting question. As it turns out, he has a finger in that pie too. As with a lot of high-profile stars, Costner has a lot of other business ventures on the go too. Along with Bill Werlin and CEO Woody Sears, Costner co-founded Autio. The company's self-titled travel app seems set to bring road trips to life like no other.

We all know that Google Maps features such as time travel street view can be invaluable when you're learning the lay of the land in a new town. What if you want something deeper than that, though? What if you want to look beyond the simple geographical features of an area and learn more about its heart, its soul, and its history? These are the kind of stories that are told by the Autio app — here's how the wonderful app can transform your next road trip.

What Is Autio?

Road trips across America's wide, ever-changing, wonderful expanse have thrilled drivers for generations. It doesn't matter where you plan to start or where you plan to finish, you're sure to bond with your fellow travelers and enjoy some snacks — blaring music the whole way, of course. What could be better?

Well, for Costner, a dose of culture takes things to the next level — and that is what Autio is designed to deliver. As Costner put it in a 2021 interview Autio posted on YouTube, the HearHere app (as it was known then) represents "an opportunity to preserve our history and do it while people are driving." The hope, Costner continued, is that instead of getting bored or whiling away the time playing video games, passengers might instead pause to admire their surroundings as they whiz by and "understand that there was unbelievable drama that happened here in America."

Autio's primary function, then, is to bring that drama to travelers as they drive, like a much more interesting sat nav. Autio is available on the App Store and guests can try it for five free stories. After those free stories are used up, subscriptions start at $29.99 for one month's unlimited access or $35.99 for a full year.

How does Autio work?

Autio's official website boasts that Autio has a library of more than 10,000 stories. They're divided into different categories such as History, Natural Wonders, and Colorful Characters (the tales of local celebrities and how they got their start in a certain place). While users journey across the United States, they will be presented with content tailored to the area they're traveling through -– the history of the Pointer Sisters in the Oakland region or naturalist John Muir's beginnings while in Yosemite National Park, to name two examples –- and these tales are narrated by Costner himself or other members of the team.

Autio's website also offers a map of the US that can be used to search a certain area and the stories available there. The app itself, as the Using the Autio App video tutorial makes clear, requires notification and location permissions, thus allowing it to share new stories users come into range of while working in the background. This feature ensures that it won't interfere with map apps being used to navigate but can alert users to points of interest at the same time.

Autio presents a map or a list view of its contents and can also provide directions to the location of a selected story. It's currently on iOS in the United States, but a planned Android launch and its arrival in Australia in January 2023 shows that Autio has a lot more potential to tap yet.