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iPhone Travel AppsThough 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! I’m starting this series off with the iPhone, and if you haven’t viewed our prior suggestions, you can catch up here and here. 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

Glacier National ParkFor avid hikers or bicyclers, it may be tough to remember the routes you’ve conquered, which remain your wish list, and which were your favorites. For those who enjoy spending as much vacation time as possible in the great outdoors, you may be itching for ways to capture those special excursions in order to look back on what made certain trips so worthwhile. If you just so happen to be a smartphone owner, I’ve got a few apps that can be of assistance. Read more

I’ve always heard photographers mention that the best camera you have is the one that’s closest to your hands, but these days, that adage is proving ever more true. As consumers at large have started to adopt and embrace smartphones, those point-and-shoot cameras have begun to collect dust. In fact, the iPhone is the most represented camera on all of Flickr, despite the fact that it has only existed since 2007. If you’re beginning to lean on your phone’s camera in order to capture memories and journal experiences, allow me to introduce a handful of apps that can make the experience an even richer one. Read more

best offline maps iphoneThese days, a smartphone is expected to do more than just field calls and text messages. Increasingly, users are ditching paper maps in favor of handheld screens, and judging by the backlash that Apple continues to receive after it launched a subpar Maps app inside of its latest iPhone software update, a solid navigation app is now an expectation. For those making the switch from dedicated navigation products – perhaps a Garmin or TomTom unit mounted in a vehicle – the iPhone offers plenty of similar functionality. But one area where phones in general fall short in performance is the offline mode. If you’re ever in rural places with weak mobile coverage, or in foreign countries where you’d rather not run up a high roaming bill just to navigate, it’s worth it to understand your offline options. Read more

Regardless of whether your own personal Santa gifted you with a new iPhone over the holidays, or you’re just looking to refresh your collection, we’re here to help.

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

I know, you’re a busy person. You’re constantly on the go, attempting to juggle several hundred inbound requests, and it’s all you can do to just keep your smartphone charged. In the past few months, I’ve discussed a few of my favorite travel applications for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS, but I’d like to take a deeper dive into the world of location apps. For many, the term “check in” is one that’s familiar, but perhaps not personal enough just yet. Turns out, these location apps can not only help you to discover the best activities and eateries in a new city, but they can also save you money.

In a nutshell, programs like Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, Shopkick, Living Social, and Groupon serve to not only share your current location information with friends, but offer plenty of incentives to use their apps if all you’re after is savings. My recommendation, at least for iPhone and Android users, is to download these six applications and stuff them away in a folder entitled “Location.” This way, you’ll know precisely where to look when you’re itching for a little discovery. All of these are free to download and free to join, and while there’s some overlap in terms of what discounts are offered where, you’ll generally expand your chances for savings by peeking into all of them. Read more

If you recently picked up an iPhone 5, you may be looking for a new spate of travel apps to fill that extra row of icon space there at the bottom. But, even if you’re still using an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S, Apple’s new iOS 6 operating system has given app developers a new incentive to polish up their programs and issue updates in support of the latest and greatest. Despite Apple leaving city dwellers who rely on mass transit out in the cold with the new Maps application, third-party developers have been working hard to help the travelers who feel left out.

If the new TomTom-based Maps application in iOS 6 just isn’t passing muster, Navigon North America is a worthwhile purchase. Yes, it’s $50, but it’s well worth it for avid travelers. The backend uses Garmin maps, which have historically been superior to those offered by TomTom. The app has already been updated to take advantage of the iPhone 5’s larger display and the new code in iOS 6. Best of all, the company has included public transportation routing as a $2.99 in-app upgrade (which Apple’s own Maps app lacks entirely), and it features onboard maps that allow route calculations even in areas where cell coverage fades. Additional premium features include comprehensive lane guidance, speed limit and safety camera warnings, exit services, parking info, a trip planner, and multi-route display. It genuinely feels like a full-featured navigation device, but right on a phone that you’re already carrying. Plus, all future map updates are free once you buy the app once. (It’s worth noting that Navigon offers other routing apps that cover many regions of the globe for those who aren’t located in North America.) Read more

Apple’s new Maps app has taken a ton of heat in recent days, and rightfully so. The company ousted Google in favor of a homegrown replacement that relies on data from Yelp and TomTom, and the general consensus is that the newer version leaves a lot to be desired compared to the prior one. That aside, the iPhone 5 (and iOS 6, which is also available for free on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S) does have a few features that should tickle the fancy of travelers.

For starters, iOS 6 brings an extra level of intelligence to Siri. As you’ve probably seen in the television commercials, Siri is the integrated voice recognition platform on the iPhone that helps users answer questions, make reminders, and add calendar appointments. But, with the new operating system, Siri is capable of doing more, and most of that benefits those who are routinely on the move. Due to Siri’s newfound integration with Apple’s Maps app, you’ll be able to trigger Siri and say things like, “Take me home,” or, “Show me how to get to a nearby Starbucks.” From there, Siri will be able to launch Maps on her own and start turn-by-turn guidance. iOS 6 is the first version of the iPhone operating system where users have been able to initiate turn-by-turn guidance using just their voice, and it works exceptionally well in testing. Read more

Great news! There’s a new iPhone coming out, and better yet, the operating system that will ship on it can also be downloaded for free to those who presently own an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or iPhone 4S. For travelers, you may be wondering about that new Maps application that Apple has been talking up. If you haven’t heard, the Maps program in iOS 6 has been engineered by Apple (instead of Google, as it previously was). It relies on routing data from Yelp and TomTom, two respectable companies in the travel app universe.

The new Maps application looks better. It’s prettier, and zooming is snappier. Also, Siri can now be used to ask for turn-by-turn directions to points of interests or addresses. But there’s a secret that won’t please urban dwellers: the new Maps app has done away with mass transit routing.

While automotive routing and walking directions are included, Apple has not included routing instructions for buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation. There’s still an icon there, but tapping it will only point you to the App Store, where it will recommend third-party mass transit apps to (hopefully) guide you.

Making matters worse, Google has yet to unveil a standalone Maps app for users to download in the event that they want to use something more akin to what they’re used to. In all likelihood, Google’s holding out just so people who update to iOS 6 realize how good they had it. Or, how good they could have it if they switched the iPhone out for an Android device, which has the most unadulterated, travel-friendly version of Google Maps anywhere on a mobile platform.

When will Apple right this terrible wrong? It’s not saying, but those who rely very heavily on their iPhone to get them places via mass transit should hold off on the iOS 6 update for now. Once you update, you’ll be getting the hamstrung maps, like it or not.

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