Searching iTunes for the ultimate travel technology companions prior to an excursion can be an overwhelming task for any consumer. Research takes time and there are countless applications on the market. Meanwhile, technology continues to evolve at an alarming rate. Here’s a digestible, must-have iPhone/iPad travel app list no US traveler should do without.
Uber: Car Service on Demand (iPhone)
The app concept is simple: car service on demand when you want it. It uses Google maps to determine where an available driver is located, displays the car in real time on route, and also allows for automatic credit card payment for rides including tip. Drivers equipped with a smartphone simply launch the app when their car is available, which tells them, if they're the cab nearest a pickup location. Once accepted by the closest driver, the traveler can relax, shop, or sip that last bit of wine while waiting for his or her ride to arrive. Uber will even text when the ride's outside.
Intel: While Uber’s ‘time away’ feature is typically spot-on, it does not take into account those nasty traffic delays.
Foursquare: Socially Broadcast your Location (iPhone)
The app is today’s yell it from the mountain. Foursquare allows users to inform family and friends of your whereabouts through manual check-ins. The more check-ins the more badges won. It’s like a modern day adult boy/girl scouts. Originally used by the ‘smoasters’ of social mobile technology it has evolved into a travel log of where you have been, pictures, comments, when you were there last and who of your friends have visited in the past but most importantly it has become part of a new form of couponing. AMEX has introduced ‘Small Business Sundays’ across the country incentivizing people to link their personal credit cards to receive savings (i.e. spend ten dollars and receive twenty dollars in small business products after check in). Delta and Starwood have joined the travel ranks providing badge wearers with discounts at certain times of the year (i.e. free drinks, food or other discounts).
Intel: If you don't want anyone to know you hit up one last bar, make sure you switch your check-ins to private and keep your late night secret.
Fotopedia: The Never-Ending Story Coffee Book (iPad)
The biggest problem with a book is there is always a last page. Through Fotopedia the inspiration keeps flowing with one jaw-dropping picture after the next. The world bleeds through the screen onto your fingertips. It truly makes you want to hop a flight to every destination imaginable. Using Google maps the app can display where in the world the photo was taken. Most importantly it includes content specific to the photo making it an all-in-one tablet guide. Simply add your favorite photos to the ‘my trip’ section and begin planning.
Trippy: Collected Travel Inspiration (iPad)
Who cares what the travel experts say? Sometimes you just want to know what your best friend Suzie or fashionista Rachel Zoe thinks about that chic hotel in Las Vegas. Say hello to newcomer Trippy. Its iPad app provides the ‘ooh lalas’ of your friends and celebrities when it comes to travel. Think Pinterest for travellers only they have layered the inspiration across Google maps making it a synch to plan in new locations.
HopStop: Door-to-Door Navigation through Multiple Mediums (iPhone)
Forget about feeling like a navigationally-challenged tourist when in a new destination, do it like the locals do - HopStop. HopStop started as a New York centric service that has quickly expanded to over 85 locations across the five countries. HopStop is an English language app allowing travelers to navigate from Point A to Point B either by foot, bicycle, cab, metro or vehicle. It also converts the mileage to minutes spent getting to destination.
Intel: Lost in a foreign metropolis? Use HopStop’s current location ‘station’ finder map. Makes catching your train a breeze. Oh and did we mention transit maps and schedules are loaded on the app as well?
Path: Social ‘All-in-One’ in a Box (iPhone)
If Facebook, Instagram, FourSquare, Spotify, Tumblr and the Weather Channel had a baby – with privacy focus - it would be Path. Path is a diary of your life and travels, allowing you to share all with your closest family and friends. Forget about having to ‘defriend’ all of those co-workers and old elementary school ‘friends’ on Facebook, Path allows for a reset because it limits the amount of connections you may have to 150 of the ‘right’ people. The user interface is so simple my grandparents can use it and it's sexy! Load up photos, videos, statuses, music, check-ins and even the times you get up or go to sleep (that last part is a bit odd . . . but when in Rome!).
Intel: While the camera piece is not Instagram the developers made a solid product for both photos and videos. One that is sharable on Instagram.
TimeTraveler by Yahoo!: Timed Travel Made Possible (iPhone)
Time TravelerYour flight just got delayed in Los Angeles for five hours: what do you do? TimeTraveler is the newest member of the mobile travel trip generators to ensure you hit up the best of the best in the limited time allotted (a layover done right). The app is easy to use: select your destination, your current location and how much time to put on the clock. TimeTraveler will spit out a comprehensive list of the key points of interest, and leverages Flickr date and time stamps in real time to allow travel time between destinations.
Intel: Bear in mind this is a new app, available for New York, San Francisco, London, Bangkok, Rome and 24 more. New destinations will continue to roll out.
Hotel Tonight: Last Minute Planning for‘ Tonight’ (iPhone)
Whether you partied too long or simply had a business meeting run late, this app is an easy and efficient way to secure drastically-cut trendy, luxury or classic hotels in major metropolitan areas for the evening at hand. Another upside is most participating hotels will allow the guest to extend for additional nights. Booking takes only seconds once registered.
Intel: The app does not guarantee the room or bed type at check-in. This occurs at the hotel. Be warned you could be staying in a cozy - but chic - box.
Delta: Airline App Done Right (iPhone)
This one implies you're a Delta loyalist but if not, the app may entice you to become one. You'll never have to print your ticket again. It has the typical features: view my trips, checking in, flight status and flight schedules. It also has a 'track your bag' feature that's great as long as you don’t find out in flight they lost it already and it is heading to Shanghai. My personal favorite is once checked in. you can see where you're positioned for that coveted upgrade list.
Foodspotting: Find and Share, Food spotted (iPhone)
None of us have an idea what restaurants look good based only on Yelp reviews. If only we could see what this delicious food looked like before I committed to a delivery or reservation. Enter Foodspotting . . . the app that takes into account the best, local and latest in visual food inspiration. Travelers can explore new cities with the culainary knowledge of a local, through pictures or Google map locations. Foodspotting also has a great eats guide section (i.e. New York’s Top 20 Pizzas) which comes in very handy for the indecisive.