10Jan/14

Coolest travel apps in 2014

All great travel apps have one thing in common: they all solve a problem you didn’t even realise you had. Take your pick and get globe-trotting – because with a few of these in your pocket, you may never look at the world in the same way again! 

Courtesy of David Clack

 Planning  

FlightTrack

Follow the path of thousands of international flights on slick, zoomable maps, with detailed information on departure gates, delays and (heaven forbid) cancellations. Great for those anticipating the arrival of loved ones, or particularly nerdy train-spotters looking to up their game.
Available on iPhone (£2.99), iPad (£2.99), Android (£2.99) and Windows Phone (£3.99)

 WeatherPro

An intuitive app offering weather reports for well over two million geographical locations, feeding in everything from cloud formations and atmospheric pressure to wind speed and humidity, all in enough detail to leave Michael Fish clammy-palmed with excitement. It’s also accurate to the point of clairvoyance, so if you’re travelling to Berlin and it predicts rain, pack your best umbrella.
Available on iPhone (£2.49), Android (£1.99) and Windows Phone (£2.29)

 JetLag Genie

There are plenty of theories floating about concerning the best methods for beating jetlag, very few of which come backed up with any serious scientific clout. Still, it’s generally agreed that gradually altering your sleeping habits before a trip is beneficial, and this clever app will help you do just that. Input your travel dates, destination and usual sleeping times and it’ll come back with personalised alarm clocks to soften the blow when you wake up on Tuesday afternoon convinced it’s still Monday morning.
Available on iPhone (£1.99)

 Packing Pro

Anyone who says there’s no exact science to packing has obviously never tried to cram a pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos into the same suitcase as a giant inflatable beach ball. Thank the lord, then, for this. Tell it where you’re going, how long for and who with and it’ll spit out a suggested list of what you might need, split up into essentials (passport, currency), clothes, gadgets and more, with separate lists for additional family members.
Available on iPhone (£1.99)
 

 Onavo

Anyone who’s ever accidentally downloaded a large email while on holiday will attest to the ridiculousness of data roaming charges, and though there’s no indication from the networks that they’re working on putting things right, there are measures you can take to avoid an end-of-month sting. Once installed, this app drastically reduces the amount of data required to perform everyday tasks, such as retrieving email and posting to Facebook. We’re not entirely sure how it manages such a feat – we just know that it works and we’re not about to complain.
Available on iPhone (free) and Android (free)

 TravelSafe Pro

A potentially life-saving database of emergency service numbers for just about every country you’d ever care to visit, plus plenty for those that you wouldn’t. There’s also embassy details should passports go missing and – for the truly paranoid – the option to pin certain services to your home screen as widgets, for one-touch access to police, ambulances and fire engines.
Available on Android (£0.99)

 The Snow Report

As much as we hate stating the obvious, it’s a simple fact of physics that you won’t have much of a skiing holiday without snow. Keep this on your home screen and you’ll never be more than a chilly-fingered prod away from the latest ski reports for your local pistes, and there’s even detailed trail maps to guide you back to the lodge should you snowplough-turn your way into trouble.
Available on iPhone (free) and Windows Phone (free)

 Tidealist

Okay, so smartphones don’t particularly complement the gnarly surfer aesthetic (can you imagine Keanu whipping out an iPhone in Point Break? Because we can’t) but still – it’s good to be prepared. Though it could admittedly do with feeding in data from a few more wave stations, the current version still provides comprehensive information on tides and weather conditions for plenty of the world’s biggest surf spots.
Available on Windows Phone (free)

 Book

 Hostelworld

Not everyone who rocks a smartphone can afford to stay at The Savoy every night, so thank heavens for this – a geo-tagged directory of 25,000 listings for budget hotels, right at your travel-weary fingertips. The app also provides access to over 3.5million user reviews, minimalising the likelihood of you signing up to a night in a flea-infested hell-pit.
Available on iPhone (free) and Android (free)

 WorldMate

The closest thing most of us will ever have to a personal assistant, albeit a hell of a lot cheaper. All you have to do is forward your various confirmation emails for flights/hotels/hire cars/restaurant bookings etc. to trips@worldmate.com and the app instantly generates an itemised itinerary covering your entire trip. Better still, upgrade to the premium version and the app will keep you in the loop in real time, generating alerts to let you know when flights are delayed or gates change.
Available on iPhone (free) and Android (free)

 BlackBerry Travel

Much like WorldMate on iPhone and Android, this indispensible tool scans your various travel documents to piece together a personal travel itinerary, which it follows up with alerts and updates when disruption rears its ugly head. Like its rivals, it’ll also give you the chance to fill in any gaps by booking hotels and transfers on the fly.  
Available on BlackBerry (free)

 Navigate

AA Parking

There are stacks of apps out there that’ll show you a map of nearby car parks, but none that do such in as much detail as this market-leading marvel. As well as tracking down spaces in their vicinity, users can also see at a glance how much they’ll have to pay to stay per hour and, for some car parks, the exact number of spaces available. Bank Holiday road trips just got slightly less stressful.
Available on iPhone (£1.99), iPad (£1.99) and Android (£1.99)

 Waze

GPS navigation meets social networking, with surprisingly effective results. Tap in your destination (there’s also speech recognition if you’ve got your hands on the wheel) and user-submitted traffic reports make sure you’re offered the quickest route for the current road conditions. Even if you’re not digging the whole sharing and caring vibe, it’s still a good £39.99 cheaper than TomTom’s sat-nav app.
Available on iPhone (free), iPad (free) and Android (free)

 New York Subway

As with our very own Tube, there are hundreds of apps that promise to make your journey on New York’s subway system less stressful, but none as highly rated or widely used as this slick and intuitive piece of software. As well as the usual maps and route planners, there’s also a natty augmented reality mode that uses your camera to overlay nearby stations onto your view of the city. Pretty neat, even by a hardened Noo Yoiker’s standards.
Available on iPhone (£0.69) and Windows Phone (£0.79)

 Marine: Europe

Richly detailed, downloadable charts for the continent’s lakes and coastlines, powered by the seafaring stalwarts at Navionics. As well as plotting you a hassle-free course for your aquatic adventuring, the app will also keep you abreast of potentially dangerous changes in weather and water conditions, all the while feeding in tide predictions, data on currents and much more.
Available on iPhone (£17.49), iPad (£44.99) and Android (£16.99)

  HopStop

Public transport information covering 68 (and counting) of the world’s biggest, busiest metropolitan hubs. So whether you need to pick your way across downtown Denver or catch a bus out of Norfolk, you should never be more than a few taps away from a neatly displayed, stop-by-stop itinerary.
Available on iPhone (free), iPad (free), Android (free) and Windows Phone (free)

 PinPin ATM finder

Nothing quite matches the sheer, sobering terror of suddenly realising you’re in a moody part of a strange town with no money for a cab ride back to the safety of your hotel. Not to worry though – chances are a cash machine is just around the corner, and with this in your pocket, you’ll always be able to find one with minimal fuss. Over 220 countries are listed, meaning you ought to be covered for even the most exotic of jaunts.
Available on Windows Phone (free)

 Explore

Pin Drop

There are two schools of thought when it comes to exploring a new city – you either sit down with a stack of guidebooks the week before setting off and research your socks off, or you take a leap of faith and enjoy a weekend of spontaneity. This app caters to the latter, allowing you to drop GPS pins onto a map when you stumble across something interesting, or browse user-made lists recommending the best sights, sounds and flavours in town. Available on iPhone (free)

 Foodspotting

While apps that aggregate crowd-sourced restaurant reviews may be ten-a-penny, those that focus in on specific dishes are a far rarer species. Luckily, this one works a treat, responding to your every gastronomic whim with user-generated recommendations from your local area. In downtown Madrid with a penchant for paella? Prod around a bit and within seconds you’ll be en route to the best in the city.
Available on iPhone (free), Android (free) and Windows Phone (free)

 Museums Mobile

A pocket-sized database of thousands of the world’s biggest museums, brimming with information on permanent and current collections. But this is more than just a comprehensive companion to your favourite halls of history; using your GPS location, it’ll also point you in the direction of museums in your area, so don’t be surprised if your Sunday morning culture stroll turns into a full-on city-wide knowledge crawl.
Available on Windows Phone (free)

 FourSquare

Though it shot to fame as a social networking tool, this location-based app has become a godsend for curious travellers. The way it works is simple – fire up the app when you arrive at any given place (everything from restaurants to churches are listed) and you’ll see a list of tips from those who’ve been before you (‘try the cheeseburger’, ‘arrive by 9am for a good pew’, etc.). Check in regularly enough and you’ll claim virtual mayorship of that particular venue, with some venues even offering perks (a free pint, discounts, and so on) when you claim the crown.
Available on iPhone (free), Android (free) and Windows Phone (free)

 Wi-Fi Finder

With data roaming charges still laughably high, knowing where to find a decent wi-fi hotspot is essential if you’re to keep the twitterati up to date with details of your latest sojourn. No need to charge through the city waving your handset around like a fly-swatter, though – simply fire up this handy app and follow directions to your nearest source of wireless internet. Best of all, the offline mode means you can download maps before you go, thereby dodging a massive bill.
Available on iPhone (free), iPad (free) and Android (free)

 TripAdvisor

Stripping away the glossy magnificence ladled on by just about every online travel agency out there, this is the place to find brutally honest reviews of hotels, restaurants, attractions and more. The user-base is notoriously hard to please, so be warned that you’ll most likely find exclamation mark strewn rants next to your favourite spots. Still, on the flip side, touch down in a strange city with nowhere to stay and you’ll only ever be a few prods away from the warts-and-all opinions of travellers just like you.
Available on iPhone (free), iPad (free), Android (free) and Windows Phone (free)

 HearPlanet

Handy though they may be, the trouble with guidebooks – and indeed their digital equivalents – is that digging through them to find the information you’re after invariably means less time appreciating the thing you actually came to see. This innovative bit of software solves the problem by reading the information (farmed from Wikipedia and its own database) directly into your ears. It’s a bit like one of those audio guides they hand out at museums, then, only better for your street cred.
Available on iPhone (£2.49) and Android (£2)

 Localipedia

A tasty mash-up of your handset’s native maps app and millions of Wikipedia articles, meaning you’re rarely more than a scroll and a click away from stacks of useful information about your surroundings. A fairly academic way to explore the world around you, but with a flask of something hot and an afternoon to kill, we very much doubt you’ll be inclined to complain.
Available on BlackBerry (free)

 Communicate

Word Lens

Now this is real sci-fi stuff – an app that instantly translates foreign text via your phone’s camera. Though the download itself costs nothing and comes bundled with a couple of demo settings, you’ll need to shell out £6.99 (via in-app purchase) for one of the language packs, with English and French currently on offer. A tad pricey, but worth it purely for the expressions of awe you’ll draw from bystanders.
Available on iPhone (free) and iPad (free)
 

Better Translator Pro

The best-rated translation app on Android, and for good reason. More than 50 languages are supported in text-to-text mode, while an impressive 11 work with the app’s voice recognition function. As for accuracy, it’s plugged in to both Google and Bing’s translation services, meaning results are very rarely nonsensical. Don’t expect to be bantering the night away with the natives or anything, but it ought to at least mean the end of ineptly miming ‘ou est la gare?’
Available on Android (£1.95)

 WhatsApp Messenger

A cross-platform messaging system that’s slowly but surely rendering the text message obsolete. Data (that’s pictures, videos, sound clips and GPS tags as well as text) are sent using either wi-fi or your phone’s web package, so even if you’re sending a message to someone on the other side of the globe, there’s nothing to pay. Absolutely essential for keeping in touch with overseas chums, and, providing you can find some wi-fi, great for sending off-the-cuff holiday snaps back home.
Available on iPhone (£0.69), Android (free) and Windows Phone (free)

  Lost in Translation

There are plenty of translation apps knocking around for Windows handsets, but this well-put-together freebie is – until voice recognition comes along, at least – the only one you need. There are 36 languages currently supported, plus a useful function that allows you to quickly and easily forward translations as texts or emails.
Available on Windows Phone (free)

 Swearport

Ever wanted to call an Ethiopian a maniac, or approach someone on the streets of Helsinki and suggest they do something improper with themselves? Well now, thanks to this neatly indexed catalogue of international expletives, you can. Just remember to wipe it from your phone before the cops show up.
Available on Android (£1)

 Documents

PhotoSynth

While your phone’s on-board camera may be just the job for immortalising otherwise hazy memories from a night on the town, it simply wasn’t designed to do justice to the likes of the Grand Canyon or Mount Fuji. Thankfully, with this ingenious app bolted on, awe-inspiring panoramic shots can be created in an instant – just choose your scene, press the magic button and it’ll handle the rest. Naturally, it’s fully integrated with Facebook, so get snapping and watch those ‘likes’ rack up.
Available on iPhone (free)

 Trip Journal

If you’re the sort to never bother organising your holiday snaps and souvenirs into something tangible to be whipped out at dinner parties, download this one on the double. But this is more than just a virtual travel scrapbook – as long as you’ve got your GPS switched on, it’ll also create maps of your various explorations, geo-tagged with pictures, videos and notes. 21st Century traveloguing at its finest.
Available on iPhone (£1.99) and Android (£2.99)



Comments are closed.