This morning on Lat/Long, the Google Maps blog, a proud product manager unveiled new eye-popping, wig-launching Grand Canyon imagery that will be added to the region in Google Maps. (The shots, taken by hikers wearing 40-lb. packs mounted with Google 360-degree cameras, cover 75 miles of trails.)
Take a stroll through some of these spectacular panoramas while solemnly humming This Land Is Your Land. Kind of beats the pants off finding your childhood home on Google Streetview, eh?
Everyone’s favorite airline seat-map compendium, Seatguru, has just upped the ante with a newly redesigned site that’s more user-friendly and—drumroll—includes flight search functionality for the first time. Though the service is in beta (it still has some kinks to work out), it’s already proving to be a refreshingly smart addition to the world of airfare search.
How it works: In addition to the usual flight-search filters (price, stops, departure time, duration), Seatguru introduces several new sorting mechanisms for travelers: Best Value (factoring in price, departure time, and duration), Best Times (weeding out early morning and overnight flights), and the site’s signature Guru Factor, which mines the site’s trove of cabin data to look at the “comfort” of flights. Taking account of cabin class, seat pitch, width, and recline, as well as inflight entertainment and amenities, the Guru Factor givers travelers an overall assessment of either “Love it,” “Like it,” or “Live with it” for any given flight. In our tests, it also alerted us when, for example, we could spend an additional $40 to trade up for a plane with an extra four inches of legroom.
The 84-year-old grande dame just unveiled the next-generation rooms of its modern tower, part of a $58 million, 15-month renovation. (The original building will reopen in April 2013.) T+L got an advance look at the 21st-century makeover, complete with cutting-edge technology hatched in the hotel’s own R&D lab and a sleek new design that maximizes space and functionality. $$$$
• Guests can make free international calls on the wireless phones with VoIP (voice over Internet protocol).
• Ten multi-language touch-screen panels placed around the room control the lights, curtains, thermostat, television, and Internet radio (all 3,000 stations).
It’s no secret that last week’s hurricane took a major toll on the East Coast and its residents; with so many outages, how was anyone able to stay current with news of the situation?
Both Facebook and Twitter played a big part in helping to keep everyone informed. Whether you follow the actual sources of the information, or your friends do and repost, everything anyone needed to know about the storm was all there—flight cancellations, public transportation announcements, and even voting location changes—at the touch of their fingers. I kept myself up-to-date mostly via information streaming through my Facebook feed, with a few glances at my Twitter feed.
But you can’t always rely on your friends to provide this information, so just in case, here are a few important accounts to keep an eye on to stay in the know when it comes to inclement weather.
When it comes to reliable, easy-to-use tech amenities, hotels have lagged confoundingly behind what most travelers have at home or on their smart phones or tablets. Even at many so-called state-of-the-art properties guests wrestle with inscrutable room controls, ornery A/V setups, and awkward communications systems. Thankfully, some hotels are now stepping up their tech game—for real.
What’s Here Now
These days, any property worth its room rate offers free Wi-Fi. But too often it’s exceedingly sloooow. Solution: many hotels (including the Radisson in San Diego and the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo) are rolling out 100 Mbps Internet service, which is fast enough to download an album in three seconds.
Music sets the mood to any atmosphere; this rings true whether you’re lounging around in your living room, commuting to work in the morning, or de-stressing while on vacation. It’s certainly true for me. And, while many hotels have been equipped with iPod/iPhone docks—which will all require replacements or the addition of an adaptor with the new line of iGadgets—not all of them do...not to mention, not everyone uses iOS devices. So sometimes the best solution is to bring your own. Here are four of my newest faves.
BRAVEN 600 The smallest of the BRAVEN SIX series, this sucker still packs a powerful punch. The battery lasts up to 12 hours; it comes with a drawstring pouch, perfect for carrying around; and can even be used to charge your smartphone up to 70%—at the cost of its own battery life, of course. It connects to your music device via Bluetooth, and is perfect for anything from listening to music at home or even to entertaining a small outdoor gathering. And best of all: it easily slips into any carry-on bag.
Finding a good camera bag that is both functional and stylish is a seemingly near-impossible feat, at least in my findings. They’re always bulky, vinyl, sacks, with nothing new or fashionable brought to the table. Yeah, I get it: its primary purpose is to organize and protect your camera and accessories, but why does it have to be so dull? I like a little flare, okay?
So I was pretty excited when I saw the newest line of Acme Made camera bags, which just hit the market this earlier this week. They’re functional, good-looking bags, and come in four different sizes, depending on how much equipment you’ll be carting around with you. You can buy them in olive green and grey, but I’m partial to the grey one, which has a brushed nickel look to it, and a delightfully surprising burst of lime green on the inside. The internal compartments are adjustable and/or collapsible, so you can customize it to suit your needs.
Watch out NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight, you’re no longer the only e-reader with a light-up display in town. Last week, Amazon announced the upcoming release of the next stage in the Kindle series: Kindle Paperwhite.
Exciting news! Here at T+L, we’ve been busy working on creating a new iPhone app, and finally our hard work has paid off. Today, the app, called Travel + Leisure Tripeze, debuted in the iTunes store. And we couldn’t be happier to share it with all of you avid travelers.
The app was designed to map your treks so that you can a: keep a record of them so you can remember exactly where you went, and b: share the trips with your friends, with you acting as a virtual tour guide of sorts. Not only that, but if you’re looking for inspiration while you’re on the go, we’ve included more than 200 trip itineraries around the world (all with photos), with another 500 coming soon.
Now the work to build the Android counterpart begins. Stay tuned…
Joshua Pramis is the social media editor and resident tech aficionado at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis