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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
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
These 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
Windows Phone may be the new kid on the mobile block (until BlackBerry 10 launches later this month), but it’s quickly shaping up to be a reliable platform for travelers. The user interface is one of the most beautiful out there, and a number of developers are embracing the new landscape to produce some incredible programs. Here are a few can’t-miss downloads for travelers from the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Last quarter, we recommended that owners of Lumia devices – Windows Phone handsets made exclusively by Nokia – download a suite of top-tier navigation tools. Since then, Windows Phone 8 has shipped, and with it has come one hugely important change: the Nokia mapping suite can now be downloaded and used across all Windows Phone 8 products, not just the ones produced by Nokia. This means that WP8 phones from HTC and Samsung can now enjoy Nokia Maps, Drive, and Transport. Drive supports offline turn-by-turn navigation, while Maps and Transport can help you get from Point A to Point B, even via mass transit options.
Next, no avid flyer should be without FlightAware. While Flight+ works wonders for those with an iPhone, this app is an excellent alternative for users of the Windows Phone platform. It’s free, astonishingly, and provides real-time tracking of commercial flights worldwide (and private flights within the U.S. and Canada). You can search by aircraft registration, route, airline flight number, city pair, or airport code, and even if you’re not checking up on your upcoming travels, it’s a pretty awesome way to kill time.
It comes recommended on other platforms as well, but WorldMate‘s Windows Phone app is without question its most elegant. For those unfamiliar with the service, it’s effectively a rival to TripIt, but it tends to handle multiple flight confirmation numbers a bit better, and generally rings up a bit cheaper for the Pro level of service. Even for those who use the free services, you’ll be able to keep track of all of your forthcoming itineraries, including flights, hotels, rental cars, train reservations, and 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
Are you one of the millions of people who received a new iPhone from Santa? Lucky you! And if you’re luckier still, and are planning to head to the slopes or somewhere tropical to kick off the New Year, you may be interested in knowing what kind of double-duty that new iPhone can pull when it comes to capturing memories.
Apple’s iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 all pack pretty impressive camera sensors. In many ways, the smartphone is replacing the conventional point and shoot, as the image quality and speed on smartphones now rival even dedicated shooters. But perhaps you weren’t aware of the video capabilities. Instead of springing for a camcorder or a GoPro rugged camera, there is actually a booming market of accessories that let you use your iPhone instead. It’s a pretty easy way to save money by using a tool you now own, and it also means one less thing taking up space in your luggage. 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.
Last week, I took a look at the U.S. mobile phone landscape and how the major players compared when it comes to international plans. The truth is, however, that even the best of ‘em aren’t specifically set up to offer an affordable, long-term solution for those who frequently cross borders but want to keep their smartphones connected. As the business world shrinks and connectivity is expected even in foreign locales, I’ve found a number of loopholes, workarounds, and small businesses that exist solely to serve the smartphone-equipped business traveler.
The first option sounds pretty simple on the surface: pick up a local SIM upon arrival in a foreign country. Each smartphone that can support international roaming has a SIM card slot – either a full-size SIM, a micro-SIM, or in the case of the iPhone 5, a nano-SIM. Most major international airports now sell local SIM cards that will allow visitors to temporarily connect to a local carrier for voice and data, at rates that beat the pants off of roaming with a U.S. carrier. For example, I was able to get a SIM valid for two weeks in Kuala Lumper International Airport for around $30, and it had 2GB of data on it. That was plenty for keeping tabs on work e-mail, uploading a couple of photos to Instagram, and generally staying connected with what was going on in the world. Read more
It’s a fact: a Nielsen study concluded earlier this year that half of all mobile phone users in America are now using smartphones. That’s an astounding growth rate for a new technology, and it has placed an enormous amount of pressure on U.S. carriers to deliver uninterrupted service to all of these new devices. Years ago, “dropped calls” were the worst. These days, not being able to check your e-mail on the go is a far more frequently heard gripe.
With the introduction of 4G LTE, a next-generation protocol for delivering high-speed Internet to your phone, there’s a very real race in terms of expansion. Particularly for business travelers, who can easily use their smartphones to provide instant Wi-Fi access to nearby tablets and laptops, choosing a carrier with broad LTE coverage makes a lot of sense. Read more
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