Technology - Mobile
Being the social media editor for Travel + Leisure, I like to think I’m pretty plugged in. I’m on Twitter, Pinterest, Foodspotting, Foursquare, and, of course, Facebook—sorry, the last one’s a friends-only profile. But yesterday, yet another social platform was announced, and I’m interested to see where it will go. (Admittedly, the owners of the site aren’t exactly sure of it either, but it could very well end up being, at least in part, a great home for travel-inspiring words and images.)
Medium is the name, and so far, it appears to be a little bit Tumblr and a little bit Blogger. How are the posts curated? Unlike Facebook, the posts are divvied up into a series of themed “collections,” the idea being that everything within that section sticks to the theme. Once the site fully launches—right now it’s just the creators that are able to post—anyone can contribute. And it seems to be, so far, that the contribution can be anything: photos, links, essays, videos. The idea is to post things that are compelling, because other users will be able to vote for the posts that they like. The more votes, the higher up your post will surface in that collection.
I have a problem. When I find a song I really enjoy, I listen to it to death. I’m not even slightly exaggerating. Sometimes I’ll play it two or three times on a single 30-minute commute home. For serious. And then, of course, after a bit of time passes, I inevitably get bored with it and need to give it a rest until it feels like new again. As a result—and my friends can attest—I regularly post, both to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, pleading for my friends to send me new music suggestions.
So I was excited to hear about a new free app called MusicBunk (Android; iOS) Basically, it’s a simple way to get music recommendations from your friends, but without having to bother them. (Or have them send you a bunch of songs you already have.) Not to mention, if you're on the road, you might just not have the time to sit around and wait for responses. So it's a perfect way to time manage while traveling, without having to give up on that desire for new tunes.
Priceline’s Name Your Own Price bidding system was once the most novel way to find a discounted hotel room online, but a slew of innovative new booking websites and apps make it easier than ever to prevent buyer’s remorse. The seven-month-old website BackBid turns the Name Your Own Price approach on its head: instead of guests bidding on hotel rooms, hotels bid on guests. After you submit your existing hotel reservation and travel preferences to BackBid, the site invites hotels in the same area to make you offers for less expensive rooms or upgraded ones at the same price. (A five-star hotel was recently offered in place of a three-star property in Washington, D.C.) As long as you have a refundable reservation, you can cancel and book the new room.
The first time I ever flew into JFK was during a flight back to NYC from Los Angeles. I hadn't gone to bed until the sun came up earlier that day, was running on just a couple hours of sleep, and I was ready to get home and collapse onto my bed. So when faced with the decision to wait in the long taxi line or take up some guy on his car service option, my foggy brain decided the latter was a sound decision. I followed the guy to his “taxi” which was a rusty old pick-up truck, but thankfully had enough sense to stop, say “Absolutely not,” and turn back around to deal with the line for a legit cab.
If you’re one of the lucky ones to be attending the Olympics this year in London, but are a little nervous about navigating a foreign city—particularly during what will very likely become a rather chaotic time with the huge influx of travelers and athletes—there are a few apps out there that can help you out. (And most of them will still be useful outside of London, after the Games are long over.)
I love to travel. Obviously. I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t. And I love when I hear about advances in technology that can help make traveling easier. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw our friends over at sister mag Executive Travel reported three new improvements that are underway that’ll help speed things up while you get to your destination, so you have more time to enjoy that beachside mojito.
The first will help you speed through the baggage check a little faster. How? By printing out your baggage tag at home, while you’re checking into your flight online. The technology was created by Unisys Corporation, and is currently being tested at Billund Airport in Denmark. When passengers show up at the airport, they simply drop their bags off at a special counter and head on over to security.
Don't you hate it when you get to a new city and have no idea where to find a great restaurant? More often than not, unfortunately, a lack of knowledge leads to mediocre meals and a poor understanding of local cuisine. Google is out to fix that.
Google has added a new feature to their Google+ social network: Local. Like its competitor, Yelp, Google+ Local will show you recommended businesses, museums, and even—yes—restaurants that are nearby.
Restaurant guidebooks have been around since Grimod de la Reynière’s Almanach des Gourmands was published in Paris in 1803. The 21st-century version: pioneering mobile-phone apps that intuitively lead travelers to restaurants via user-generated feedback. Foodspotting launched two years ago as a way to share epicurean snapshots and search for geo-tagged dining options, but it has since evolved into a Pandora-for-food that uses previous likes and dislikes to suggest what you might want to try next. In addition, Foodspotting has beefed up its editorial content, including redesigned “picture menus” for every restaurant and a new series of Travel + Leisure guides that highlight can’t-miss items in destinations from Las Vegas to Paris.
What's the perfect gift for young, inquisitive, would-be travelers? The Barefoot World Atlas App, available for iPad. The result of a collaboration between Barefoot Books and Touch Press, a popular app developer, the app lets your little one explore the globe with a flick of the finger.
For anyone with an addiction to social media (which, naturally, includes yours truly), you know there are tons of benefits that come with taking the time to check-in to the various restaurants, shops, hotels, parks, and…well, anywhere and everywhere you might go. From perks like discounts or freebies, to the satisfaction of becoming the “mayor” of your favorite coffee shop a la Foursquare, to even, in some cases, winning a free trip…the possibilities are seemingly endless.
One companyhas taken the concept of checking in to whole different level: they’re letting people log into Foursquare through their website and create custom jewelry using their previous check-ins—think: connect the dots. (Fret not: if you’re not on Foursquare, you can use their custom map to create your design, or you could just shop from their pre-existing collection.)