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First Look: Priceline Debuts New Hotel and Flight Search Tools

Priceline's Hotels Near Me

Priceline’s introducing some exciting new features today—and we’ve gotten a sneak peak at what to expect. Exclusive to users on iPhone and iPad, the upgrade includes a partnership with intelligent fare search Routehappy as well as a location-based hotel search tool. When looking for a place to stay, the Deals Near Me feature will now scan the thirty mile radius around you to find great room discounts in the vicinity—it pulls from Priceline’s entire database, featuring both Express Deals and retail prices. As with any dynamic zone hotel search, this lends itself best to last minute bookings, but don’t count it out as a planning tool—you can manually change your position on the map to anywhere in the world, accessing deals that are say, walking distance from the Prado—and search for reservations months out in the future.

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Apple's New CarPlay Set to Take Over Your Next Road Trip

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This week, Apple introduced their new CarPlay system, and it’s something of a revolution for road trippers. A follow up to iOS in the Car, which launched quietly last year as a way to have your iPhone screen show up on your in-car dash, CarPlay is set to ship in Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo cars any day, with nearly every auto maker following suit by the year’s end (notable exceptions include Fiat, VW, and Chrysler). Included in the release? Full integration via your phone’s lightning port, offering access to Siri, Apple maps, hands-free calling, and text messages through voice commands and in-car controls. One feature we can’t stop thinking about: controlling Spotify (or any other music app) without having to take your eyes off the road.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Apple

Google Maps Gets a Big Upgrade

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If you’re a plugged-in traveler, you likely lean pretty heavily on Google Maps as a planning tool—we sure do. But today, Google is re-launching the service with an impressive slew of new functions that will no doubt change the way you plan and navigate your next vacation. Here, a guide to what’s new and notable:

• Responsive search: Now when you search for a place, Google will subtly glean what type of experience you’re after and flag comparable places for you to consider. For example, search for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and you’ll get what you’re looking for—plus flags for the Frick, the MoMa, and the Whitney nearby. Search for Italian restaurants in Chicago, and the options will shift as you start to poke around (clicking on a pizza joint will trigger Google to flag affordable or casual spots, while clicking on Spiaggia might trigger a slew of high-end, Michelin-starred tables).

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Marriott Hotels Launches Mobile Checkout at 329 Properties Worldwide

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Everyone’s going mobile in travel these days—and if you thought you’d heard enough of that already, think again. It’s just the beginning. Proving that is Marriott Hotels, which today launches mobile checkout at all of its 329 hotels nationwide and another 20 international properties (all 500 will be on board later this year). While other hotels and resorts have individually brought mobile checkout to life—I just checked out of the Aria in Las Vegas without even stopping at the front desk—Marriott’s move marks the first brand-wide conversion of its scale, and is no question a signifier of what’s to come for the rest of the industry.

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Google Glass Gets a Redesign—And A Killer New Travel App

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Today, Google Glass got a big makeover. Once a standardized design that said little more than “Look at me—I’m tech savvy!” the frames now come in four new looks, each worthy of a spot in Warby Parker’s lineup. Along with the upgrade is a practical twist, too: the new models can be fitted with prescription lenses, making the frames (which cost $225) eligible for insurance reimbursement. It’s a huge move for the product, which is expected to hit mass market by the end of the year. And as Google gears for the big launch, Glass is kicking it up both with style and substance, introducing a slew of new apps—some perfectly suited for travelers.

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2014 Tech Travel Predictions Straight From Our Experts

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Innovations in tech-savvy travel seem to be made every second. In a recent Twitter chat, we asked our panel of experts for the gadgets and apps that will change the way we travel in 2014. Here's what they had to say:

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Bitcoin Digital Currency Now Accepted By PointsHound and Las Vegas Casinos

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The bitcoin continues to establish itself in the travel industry, with online booking site PointsHound and two Las Vegas casinos joining the growing list of companies utilizing the cryptocurrency this week.

PointsHound, a website which helps travelers book vacations and earn points for their various loyalty programs, will now let users earn their rewards in bitcoins. For example, rather than boosting their AAdvantage points by 3,400 miles, PointsHound users can opt for 0.1093 bitcoins instead when purchasing a night at over 150,000 hotels worldwide. (Those numbers come from booking a $1,124, one-night stay at the T+L World's Best Award winner Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.)

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Staying in Touch on Business Trips

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Staying in touch with your loved ones while on a business trip can be tough.

You want to maximize your limited time away, so you get up early, schedule meetings all day, then have a business dinner followed by cocktails. By the time you’re done and get back to your hotel room, your family might be long asleep and you’ve missed a chance to connect.

And that doesn’t even factor in long flights, time zone changes, and cell phone dead zones.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

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New Eye Tracking Technology May Soon Replace Border Patrol in Airports

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Biometrics have been hot at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, with everything from brain wave monitoring headbands that train you to de-stress to mobile wallet alternatives activated by touch. But the one innovation that’s caught our eye will literally catch yours, too, when you see it deployed in airports and airlines in the not-so-distant future. Eye trackers zoom in on your visual movement, letting you control things literally by looking around—imagine selecting options on your TV by simply affixing your gaze to them, and you’ve got the right idea.

EyeTech, the leader in eye tracking technology, is bringing them to the travel world in partnership with in-flight entertainment company Thales and the University of Arizona.

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Tech Travel Trends You'll See in 2014: Remote Viewing

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Tech experts are swarming Las Vegas this week for Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, and T+L is on the ground to bring you the latest travel trends of the year. Here, a peek at some of the hottest tools so far.

Remote viewing: A slew of new tools will help you stay on top of your shows while you’re on the road. (If I’d been aware, I’d be watching the Downton Abbey premiere here in Vegas.) The frontrunners you need to know:

Dish Network
Just yesterday, the satellite provider one-upped their streaming capabilities so that now you can transfer any recorded shows to your mobile devices before you leave for a trip and watch them offline—no Wi-Fi needed.

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