Travel apps for your mobile

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In this digital age of tap-dancing robots, downloadable viagra and virtual nutrition, which traveller still lugs 5kg worth of guidebooks and dictionaries around with them?  These days all you need is a smartphone and a wi-fi connection and you can have the entire Lonely Planet back catalogue at your fingertips.

The marketplace is saturated with applications covering everything from best rated local pizzas to typical weather patterns in McMurdo Sound, but which ones are worth bothering with?  To amuse you while you consider this conundrum, our very own hot stepping reporter Sandrine has hashed together a shortlist of the most interesting applications that are sure to delight globetrotters galore.

With this software you can locate some local cuisine, find a nearby toilet to throw it back up in, and then connect with a new friend and tell them all about it.  Wow, the wonder of technology really helps to bring us all closer together.

Do you think you’ll be taking any of these with you on your next trip?

MetrO

MetrOA free guide available on iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones.  Next time an orangutan is chasing you through the Balinese jungle, you needn’t fear about getting lost.  This app doesn’t need internet access once installed on your phone.  It features a wealth of information about public transport systems (where to catch local transport, how and when) in over 400 cities around the world.  To make this work most effectively, you simply need to download info for the city you’ll be visiting.  Et voila – you can now identify a nearby rickshaw to take you back to your beachside bungalow.  You can download the software and read the user guide here.

Flight Track

Flight TrackHere you can see all scheduled flights, with gate of departure, departure and arrival times, type of aeroplane, any delay info, last-minute cancellations, and also the speed and altitude of the plane (only for USA flights).  The application costs €7.53 and can be downloaded onto iPhone, Blackberry, Android, iPad and iPod touch.  Try to stay awake through this demo.

Babelingo

BabelingoThis software is only available on iPhone, iPad and IPod touch at a price of €1.59. Any network connection is required. This software gives you access to 300 words and phrases in 11 different languages.  Clearly, you won’t learn how to speak a foreign tongue fluently, but there are seven different categories where you can find some useful sentences and words.  In the ‘Eating out’ category you’ll find other sub-categories of drinks, foods and utensils.  If you want to know more you can check it out here and you can also watch this stunning demo here.

Itranslate

ItranslateFree translation software with access to 50 different languages, available on Android, IPhone, IPod touch and iPad.  Itranslate combines voice recognition, dictionaries, automatic translation and speech output.  Bear in mind that the voice recognition is not free and this application requires internet access. You can find more information here and you can also find a similar app for Blackberry here.  Want to know how to do it?  Here.  Oh, did somebody say review?

Convertbot

ConvertbotAmericans purchase their dogs by the pound, Europeans by the kilo, and English by the Jabberwock.  Converbot aims to improve international relations on a global scale, acting as a conversion tool for various types of units (currency, length, mass, time, temperature etc).  However, two glaring omissions are those for clothes and shoes.  Convertbot works on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and costs €1.59.  You can find further info and also download from here, or just watch somebody messing with it here.

Wi-Fi Finder

Wi-Fi FinderYou’re stuck in Basingstoke with some time to kill.  You’d like to use Itranslate in order to pick up some of the local lingo, but you wouldn’t be seen dead in Starbucks or McDonalds.  The solution?  Wi-Fi finder could save your bacon.  This application can quickly search over 650,000 sites (free or paid) in 144 countries around the world.  You can filter connections by location (restaurant, café, hotel) or by free/paid zone connection.  This software is available on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  Want to know more?  Of course you do.  Better than that, how about a review?

WindGuru

WindGuruCheck the weather, temperatures, wind speed and strength in…well, in many countries of the world.  This can help you to pack your suitcase according to the weather of your destination.  Surfers take note – you can also see the frequency and the height of waves with this app.  WindGuru is a free application that is available on Android, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  Find more info here and check out a demo here.

SitOrSquat

SitOrSquatAn absolutely invaluable application, SitOrSquat can mean the difference between tremendous relief and public humiliation.  This application uses some ingenious data to notify you of the nearest public toilets in your location.  Let’s hope it works as well on the streets of Mangalore as it does in Manhattan.  SitOrSquat is free software, available on Blackberry, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  Here’s some further info; here’s how to do it.

UrbanSpoon

UrbanSpoonEating in unfamiliar territory?  This free application will find sustenance for you.  UrbanSpoon lists many restaurants and fast food joints around in the USA, Canada, Australia and UK.  This software is available on Blackberry, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  Feeling hungry? Why not watch this pant-shatteringly awesome demo first?

LocoTrivia Full

LocoTriviaDo you like to learn more about places you visit and then test your knowledge with a quiz?  Amaze your travel buddies with this software that will pose questions related to the places nearest your current location.  It even allows you to submit your own questions and there is a scoreboard to make a global showcase of your trivia prowess.  This software is free and works on Android, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.  There’s more info here, and Blackberry users fear not – there’s a similar version here.

UpNext HD Maps

UpNextKnow next to nothing about contour lines?  UpNext HD Maps will allow you to see your location in 3D, which could prove more useful than a traditional map.  Actually, this app can be very helpful in big cities, where you can use it to recognise surrounding buildings and landmarks.  UpNext HD Maps is fantastic if you’re travelling to a major US city.  Not setting foot on US soil?  Keep your eye on this site for updates.  This free application is available on iPad, iPod touch and iPhone.

AroundMe

AroundMeThis free software uses your GPS to locate useful services in your near surroundings.  You can figure out where to find the nearest bank, gas station, restaurant, hospital, or car park, and also determine how far away it is.  You can choose to see their locations on a map, view the route from where you are, add the information to your contact list or even email the information to a friend.  This application could be very useful if you are abroad and you need to find a pharmacy pretty sharpish.  You can follow this link to find more information, or this one to ask a guru.

World Customs & Cultures

World Customs and CulturesHere’s a nifty collection of international dos and don’ts?  Handy for those delicate situations where you want to avoid (or even ensure) insulting someone abroad, World Customs & Cultures can start you off on the right foot without it ending up in your mouth.  This software has info on customs and cultures in over 165 countries.  A GPS is also included to quickly determine your location. World Customs & Cultures is available on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad at a cost of €0.75. Find more information here.

Packing Pro

Packing ProDoing pretty much exactly what a pen, paper and a brain can achieve, Packing Pro allows you to create a list of items and then check them off once you have packed them.  We don’t all pack our suitcase in the same way; that’s why the app is completely customizable.   It also has the power to automatically create a list according to the number and nature of people travelling and the type of destination.  Packing pro costs €2.26 and is available oiPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  If you’re lacking either a pen, paper or a brain, you might want to find more info here.  Blackberry users don’t despair – here’s something similar for you.  Not convinced by this glowing review?  Don’t just take our word for it.

Poynt

PoyntMore or less a combination of UrbanSpoon and AroundMe, Poynt is free software that is available on Blackberry, Android and iPhone.  This app works in India, Canada, USA, France, UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and Australia.  Thanks to this software you will be able to quickly find a restaurant, cinema, gas station, events, people, businesses and even daily deals.  Now that’s a bit more like it.  You can also watch a review by some girl in an odd winter get-up.

Waze

WazeWaze allows you to chat with other users and inform them about accidents, traffic jams, police checks, roadworks and surveillance radar, and help everyone to avoid them.  You can also update roads, landmarks, and house numbers.  This free GPS software is a community-driven application and it learns from users’ own driving times to provide route and real-time traffic updates.  Waze is available for iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia and Android and can be used around the world.  Here’s the website; here’s a robot’s review.

World Clock

World ClockWorld Clock shows you the current time in over 230 countries.  It also has a real-time day/night map so that you can see where the sun is usually shining.  World Clock even includes a time converter, network time syncing, alarm clock with possible notifications, time zone auto-updating, scrollable maps, and the ability to display up to 24 clocks.  World Clock application is available on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad and costs €1.51.  Intrigued?  You know where to go.

LocalMind

Local MindThis useful app enables you to send questions about local places and events, and receive answers in real time.  This software accesses your FourSquare, GoWalla and Facebook Places check-ins to send you questions about the place you are in.  You might receive questions such as, ‘are there any special offers on pink gin cocktails?’ or ‘are the toilet facilities in a suitable state of hygienic maintenance?’ and you can then enrich people’s lives with your wise wisdom.  LocalMind is available for iPhone and Android; you can find even more info here and also a review here.

Friends Around

Friends Around MeThis free application is a mobile social network that will allow you to interact with friends and meet new people nearby or across the world via an interactive location-based search.  It’s available on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. This one is also includes existing social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.  Get more information here and watch the dashboard feature here.

HearPlanet

HearPlanetConverting your phone into a pocket-sized tour guide, HearPlanet provides audio information about local points of interest such as historic sites, landmarks, restaurants and local merchants.  It costs €3 and is available on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android and Blackberry.  You can also use this software to make reservations.  However, as all information comes from the internet and Wikipedia, you’ll need to have internet access or 3G to use this application.  Here’s the official website and here’s a quick ad.

We expect that these examples should keep you quite busy for now.  Indeed, the review vids alone should eat up the best part of your lunch break.  Have you taken any of these applications for a spin?  Have you rated any?  Or do you have a better suggestion?  If yes, please provide details in the box below.  Happy travelling, and see you tomorrow.

Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanchett/ for the intro photo

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Michael

About Michael

Arrogance, hostility, parsimony, rapacity, impatience; the five humours of the Englishman abroad are my most positive features and also my guide and solace through tribulations. I delight in coffee, cheese, and the music of Ray Charles, and you can catch me trying to form a queue anywhere from Centraal Station to Hoofddorpplein.

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