The iPhone can help you do just about anything, and if one of the built-in apps can’t handle the task, one or more of the 50,000 plus titles in the App Store can. A good example of this is travel. Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Maps, Weather, and other built-in apps can be a godsend when you’re on the road, but there are hundreds of App Store titles that can make your travels even easier and more enjoyable.
Some of these are found in the App Store’s “Travel” category. Others are located elsewhere. They may not have been designed specifically for travel, but they can come in quite handy when you’re on the road. This article looks at a few of the apps that will make life easier and a little more fun, whether you’re on a business trip to Chicago or a vacation to New Zealand.
Preparing for the trip
I hate packing! No matter how good my intentions are, I always do it at the last minute—and forget something I really need. There are some excellent packing apps such as Packing Pro ($3.99; quinnscape.com), and Packing List ($0.99; tidalpool.ca/products) that can help even the most disorganized person. Both apps allow you to create customized packing lists and then check off items as you put them into the suitcase. It takes time to create a list, but once completed, you can use it again and again. You can also refine your list for future trips. It’s well worth the effort and the purchase price.
With Notebook ($4.99; appigo.com/notebook) and Evernote (free; evernote.com), you don’t really need a dedicated packing program. Both of these apps let you make lists and check off items as you complete them. However, they are even more useful than a packing app because they let you make and save notes about things you’ve seen, places you want to go, vital contact info, and more. In addition, Evernote lets you save Web clippings you might need on the trip. Best of all, both apps sync with cloud-based services (Notebook with Toodledo.com and Evernote with its own servers), so the information you stored is available from any Web browser.
Tip: You can store all sorts of trip-related documents on Evernote, but before you leave town, use Evernote’s caching system to save them locally on the iPhone so you can access them when a data connection is not available.
Apps such as FlightTrackPro ($9.99; mobiata.com/ iphone-apps) let you receive real-time updates and find out whether your flight’s on time. It may seem a bit pricey, but it does a lot. You can check flight status, find out about delays, view live flight maps with weather radar, check gate numbers, departure times, and more.
In addition, there are a variety of Web pages that give you flight information. Wundrbar ($1.99; wundrbar.com) lists a variety of iPhone-optimized Web sites by category and lets you access them quickly. A number of travel-related sites are listed, including several for checking flight status. Once you’ve taken the time to track down and save the sites most relevant to your travels, you can use MyWebClip ($2.99, free version also available; uuuu.to) to organize and access the links quickly during your travels.
Wundrbar lists and lets you access a variety of Web sites, including those with flight status info.
During a trip, the iPhone is great for taking pictures and video, listening to music, watching movies, or playing games. But with a few well-chosen apps, it can do a whole lot more.
Thanks to Kindle for iPhone (free; amazon.com) or Stanza (free; lexcycle.com), you can carry dozens of books with you and read them whenever you want. These apps work well for me, but the iPhone’s small screen is an acquired taste—one that some readers never acquire.
Placing phone calls while traveling outside the country can become costly very quickly—unless you use Skype (free; skype.com) or Truphone (free; truphone.com). Skype let you make free calls to other Skype users; Truphone lets you make free calls to Truphone, Skype, or Google Talk users. Both apps charge low per-minute fees for other calls. You’ll need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network to place the calls, but you can find a free one just about anywhere these days. Wi-Fi Finder (free; jiwire.com/iphone) can help you with that. It lets you find and connect to open Wi-Fi networks quickly.
Two other must-have apps for iPhone travelers are Currency (free; currencyapp.com) and Free Translator (codesign.cz). The first provides up-to-date currency exchange rates and the second interfaces with Google Translate to help you interpret words to and from a variety of languages. Even if you don’t think you’ll need them, they’re free—take them with you. And while you are in the App Store, check out Postage ($1.99; postage.roguesheep.com) and Postman ($1.99; freeverse.com/iphone-os), two great apps that let you send e-postcards from iPhone to family and friends. You can create cards quickly using photos from your library. They’re fun to make and easy to send.
The next two titles aren’t really travel apps, but they’re worthwhile for a host of reasons. LogMeIn Ignition ($29.99; secure.logmein.com) is one of the more expensive apps, but worth the price. It lets me access and control my home computer from my iPhone. With it, I can access files and use any program that is on my home computer, wherever I am. To use this app, you need an account on the LogMeIn Web site, but that’s free. There are other less expensive apps that provide similar features, but LogMeIn works best for me.
Simplify Music ($5.99; simplifymedia.com) lets you listen to your music wherever it’s stored. For example, you may have some music files on your home computer and some on your office computer. There may also be music you’d like to listen to on your wife or husband’s computer. With Simplify Music, you can access it all from your iPhone. Simply install the app on your iPhone and the desktop component on the PC, Mac, or Linux computers you want to access. The app will search for songs, create playlists, and more. The computers you want to access must be turned on, have the desktop component installed, and be connected to the Web. You can even listen to music stored on your friends’ computers, as long as they have given you permission (in the app) to do so. With Simplify Music, you can access hundreds of gigabytes of music wherever you are, whenever you want it.
Sharing photos of the trip
So you took some great pictures during your travels and now you want to share them with family and friends. Of course, you can e-mail them, as is, from the Photos app. But there are some photo apps that let you do some pretty amazing things before you send them.
ColorSplash ($1.99; juxtaposer.info/ColorSplash.html) lets you give pictures a dramatic look by turning them into black and white photos and then allowing you to add color back to select portions of the photo.
AutoStitch ($1.99; cloudburstresearch.com) lets you stitch together a series of photos to create amazing panoramas.
PixRemix ($2.99; pixremix.net) lets you combine pictures and captions into a short slideshow or animated collage. You can use the app to send these to friends via e-mail or post them to your Twitter or Facebook account.
Postage ($1.99; postage.roguesheep.com) and Postman ($1.99; freeverse.com/iphone-os) let you create e-postcards quickly using photos from your photo library and send them to family and friends. They’re fun to make and easy to send.
ColorSplash, AutoStitch, and PixRemix let you turn your photos into something special.
Making travel easier and more fun
These are just some of the apps that can help you on your trips. Of course, there are many more apps for the traveler in the App Store. If you find some that you feel are particularly useful, send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d love to hear about any app that can make traveling easier and more fun.