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Though it may not seem (or feel like it from the weather), we’re already into a new quarter for 2013, which means it’s time to refresh our quarterly app guides! Last week, I started by updating our iPhone guide. Now, I’ll tackle the ever-growing Android platform. If you’re looking to use your phone as a crutch during your summer vacation planning, you’ll want to make sure the programs below are installed. Read more
If you’re the type who finds San Francisco to be too chilly pretty much every day of the year, you’ll be the type who rejoices at the chance to visit San Jose. While it’s just a few dozen miles south of North California’s most well-known city, San Jose has a vibe all its own – not to mention a temperature that’s routinely warmer. In an effort to get you outside the boardroom and into the heart of Silicon Valley, we’re offering up two restaurants, two attractions, and one bar that you can hit with just a few extra hours between meetings. Read more
With news that Google Streetview sent a camera into Fukushima, the city that was abandoned after a 2011 Japanese earthquake cause the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiich nuclear power plant, we’re now able to see inside the now desolate town. Take a look at the eerie photos and others from around the world. Read more
Since we published last quarter’s app roundup, Google Maps has returned to the iPhone platform. Sort of. While Apple’s own Maps app – which relies on data from TomTom and Yelp – is still the default guidance program, Google has since produced its own standalone Maps app for iOS. You’ll need to visit the App Store to download the free program, but for the most part, it brings back everything you used to love about Maps on iPhone. You’ll find mass transit and walking directions, as well as voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, but you won’t have access to offline mapping just yet. However, Google seems dead-set on improving this product. Nothing would make Google happier than to have more iPhone users relying on Google Maps than Apple Maps. Read more
It’s the start of a new year, which is an ideal time to take a look at the phone in your pocket and reconsider your app collection – particularly for travel, as you plan for all of your 2013 trips. If you’re still looking for ways to use your new (or old) Android phone or tablet to make your vacations more organized, look no further.
Built and maintained by Google’s own Niantic Labs department, Field Trip is without question one of the best travel-related Android apps to ever surface. And best of all, it’s completely free. Designed for the argonaut in all of us, this app can run in the background and then notify you when you’re in the vicinity of something interesting. It uses your current position and crosses that with its vast database of points of interest, acting as a “guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you.” You can use it in a growing number of cities, or enable the random mode for a bit of spontaneity. Even if you aren’t planning to leave your hometown for some time to come, give this one a download – it may lead you to find a few local places of note that you hadn’t seen before. Read more
Earlier in the year, Google introduced a new version of its Android mobile operating system. In the global market, it goes toe-to-toe with RIM’s BlackBerry platform and Apple’s iOS platform – the latter of which is used in the iPhone. One of the flagship features in Android 4.1, also called “Jelly Bean,” is Google Now. In a sense, it’s a direct competitor to Apple’s Siri, but it’s actually far, far more powerful in practice. For the most part, it has remained a relatively quiet feature that Google has yet to play up, but I’m here to explain exactly how this one feature could revolutionize how your phone tracks, manages, and helps you stay sane when you’re traveling.
One of the more delightful (and modern) year-end traditions is checking out what facets of culture have a vice-grip on the general public. With 2012 winding down, big name search engines are releasing their most-searched phrases of the year. Entries run the gamut of pop culture and beyond, from the presidential election, to New York Knicks (and now Houston Rockets) wunderkid Jeremy Lin, and even the union of the entertainment world’s most notorious egomaniacs, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Unsurprisingly, many turned to the interwebs to scope out vacation spots. What was unforeseen was how certain destinations would rank, and which cities – here in the United States and across the globe – would rise to the top.
Chicago was ranked Yahoo’s second most-searched city of the year, making it once again the “Second City.” Yahoo wasn’t the only mega-site to point out Chicago’s blossoming popularity; it was the second most-searched for U.S. city in Google Maps as well. Chi-Town edged out London and New York, and was second only to Las Vegas. Sin City is a perpetual favorite of thrill-seeking tourists, and often heads most year-end lists.
Avid jetsetters should download TripIt on the Google Play store right away, but don’t splurge for the $3.99 “No Ad” version. Instead, spend the extra money on the $49/year TripIt Pro service. Once registered, TripIt will monitor your e-mail inbox for travel-related confirmations, seat changes, etc., and will update your Android app immediately. It’s completely effortless. Delays and gate changes will alert you automatically, and you’ll also get complimentary 1-year memberships to Hertz #1 Club Gold and Regus Gold.
The Pro service also makes it easy to track all of your frequent traveler points, and you’ll be immediately notified if your airfare is eligible for a refund due to a price drop. For those who need to share upcoming trip details with kids, friends, or family, the app enables easy (and private) sharing to the parties you specify, so they too will know exactly where you are after you depart. Read more
Until we arrive at that wonderful day when internet access is free at all airports, we’ll continue to celebrate the little victories of free promotional Wi-Fi for a limited time. The latest gift comes from Boingo courtesy of Google Play. According to Engadget, the sponsorship agreement will bring free access to 4,000 locations, including 15 airports (such as JFK in New York and O’Hare in Chicago), several Wi-Fi enabled subway stations in New York City, along with hotels, shopping malls, cafés and recreational areas.
The promotion starts this week and runs through the end of September. Users seeking out the free Wi-Fi must be using Android phones or tablets, Windows-enabled computers, or Apple computers. The press materials specifically do not mention iOS and Windows phones, so users of those devices might just be out of luck. Still, free Wi-Fi is always a treat, so take advantage of it while you can.
Google already has your land travel covered, from Google Earth to street views to building plans (see our post on Indoor Maps), but now they want to take you underwater to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with the help of the University of Queensland, Catlin Group Limited, and some pretty fancy cameras. For the project, the Catlin Seaview Survey will photograph 360 degree underwater panorama views of shallow reefs, which over the next few years will be made available to the public through Google Maps, Google Earth, and even live YouTube streams on a dedicated YouTube channel. You can see a demo of the Street-View-inspired Seaview maps here.
These gorgeous images and maps are made possible by a specially designed camera called the SVII, which acts as an underwater scooter and takes photographs as it moves. The photographs will be analyzed by image recognition software that will quickly catalog the wildlife at the 20 sites chosen for study along the Great Barrier Reef. But there are other components to the project, as well: a deep reef survey, and a mega fauna survey.
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