All About Apps Summer 2018

 

We all enjoy apps that help us in our everyday life.

We found quite a few that you might be interested in adding to your collection.

Be sure to check these out!

 

Are you ready to explore the world, but overwhelmed by the many details, the language barrier, the unfamiliar currency, where to stay, and how to get there? Now there are phone apps that let you keep all that information in the palm of your hand so you are free to just enjoy yourself.  Here are a few of the best travel apps; all are free and available for both iOS and Android phones.

The first thing most people do is book their flight.  While there are many ways to do this, how do you know you have gotten the best price?  Hopper, like some other flight apps (for example Skyscanner and Kayak) will show you the cheapest dates to fly with a month view calendar, but Hopper stands out by predicting when flights are cheapest, then notifying you when to buy your ticket.  It does this by analyzing and tracking billions of flights so it can tell you if flights are likely to get cheaper or if you should buy now. When the time comes, they say you can book in 60 seconds or less with a savings of 40%.

The next thing on your mind will be finding a place to stay that is affordable, safe, and convenient.  Nearly all booking sites, like Hotels.com and Booking.com have mobile apps that can be used to book rooms and store the details for you.  Airbnb has taken this to the next level by adding two new features to its mobile app. Once you have booked a place, the “Trips” feature will help you find and book activities with local guides and the “Places” feature gives you tips on places to go and things to do, all recommended by their local hosts which might not appear in any guidebooks.  Sometimes the unexpected happens and best laid plans change, like a room reservation falling through at the last minute or a delayed flight leaving you stranded overnight. If this happens, do not panic,  Hotel Tonight will find you a last minute deal through its partnership with hotels that offer discounts on empty rooms.

As the trip approaches, you will be thinking about what to pack and scribbling notes to yourself as you think of things.  Let PackPoint help you with that.  Tell it your destination, travel dates, and activities and it will suggest a weather specific list of things you are likely to need. Whether you prefer to make your own list or use this app, everyone knows that weather predictions are far from perfect, change quickly, and may even be generalized. Accuweather provides you with minute by minute forecasts that are very localized, so when you leave your hotel for the day, you will be dressed for whatever the weather brings.

Tripit is a virtual all-in-one travel assistant.  It can pull car, hotel, flight, and other reservations from your emails, and organize them for you into a master itinerary. All important information is stored right there in a timeline: dates, confirmation numbers, flight numbers, contact information, directions, etc.  This is very handy for long trips with many destinations and forms of transportation. A bonus is that you can even access this offline so your itinerary is accessible at any time.

Any trip outside the country will involve an unfamiliar currency. Get the constantly updated latest exchange rates in the XE Currency app. That way, you will never spend more than you meant to. Not only that, it will store the latest rates so you can access them even when your phone is offline.

Language is another barrier in most foreign countries.  While you may encounter many English speakers in the big cities, you cannot always count on this, especially when off the beaten path. Google Translate can translate 103 languages and 38 of those can be translated by just pointing your phone’s camera at a street sign or even a dinner menu. Translations are not always perfect but it should prevent surprises when your dinner order arrives!  If you have a lot of time before you go, give DuoLingo a try and learn a bit of the language. Easy lessons in thirty languages should help you master common greetings and phrases

Public transportation is often described in the travel books as being easy but then seems confusing once you get there.  Moovit to the rescue! This powerful public transit app is available in 1500 cities and is adding new ones every 15 hours. It combines all your public transit options into one place and constantly updates for schedule changes and delays.  Not only that, it tells you exactly how many stops are left until your destination and notifies you when you get there.  You can download offline maps so it is available even when you are not connected. If you prefer to take an Uber, no worries, it is available in 737 cities in 84 countries. You do not need a special app; the one you have works just fine.

Staying in touch with family and friends can be tricky and expensive. WhatsApp is the answer to that. You can send texts, images, videos, and even make phone calls with no fees, as long as the recipients have the app too. Of course you need a WiFi connection to send messages. That is where WifiMap comes in. It highlights hotspots near you and provides you with the passwords to use them. Maps can be downloaded to use offline so you do not have to use your data to find that hotspot. Handy for anything that requires a WiFi connection.

All good things must come to an end. When you arrive back in the U.S., you may be faced with long lines at customs.  Ease yourself through with Mobile Passport, now accepted at 24 airports in the United States; it is likely that one of these will be your point of entry back home.

Happy travels!

*This is an extended version of what was originally posted in the Freeman/Lozier Library’s quarterly newsletter, More Than BooksV. 21 No. 3, Summer 2018.

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