Technology - Mobile
Sometimes it's really hard to believe that just a few years ago, in order to get where you had to go—especially on road trips, you needed to bring along one or more large, folding paper maps. Then there came websites like MapQuest, which alleviated people the hassle of having to actually figure out how to get from point A to point B. And now with GPS devices built into cell phones, navigating strange places is a breeze, and there's no need to bring anything you wouldn't have with you anyway.
T-Mobile recently released a new smartphone, the Garminfone (Garmin is one of the leading GPS makers in the world), which was specifically designed for travelers constantly on the go. It looks like any other touch screen smartphone (wait until you see just how smart it is), but as soon as you turn the phone on, you know it's made for travelers: there are three large icons on the homepage; one is labeled "Where To?" and the other, "View Map." (The third is for making phone calls.)
Anyone who travels frequently can attest: finding medical assistance while traveling in a strange city—especially in a foreign country, where language barriers can easily work against you—can be quite the challenge. But thankfully we live in an age chock full of so much convenient technology, that obstacle is becoming less of an issue.
I recently learned about an iPhone app called mPassport. It's a handy piece of software that is a wealth of information for anyone needing medical attention while away, whether it's routine or emergency service. What exactly can you do with the program?
As part of an early-adaptor household that snagged an iPad the instant it hit shelves this month, I know it’s one thing to play Scrabble while you’re waiting on line for lattes at Starbucks, to burn through a few chapters of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter before bed, or to ogle and caress its sleek form in the privacy of one’s home, but how does this spring’s hottest must-have gadget fare on the road? For starters, at just 1.5 pounds it weighs far less than the average laptop, and airport security is not forcing owners to pull out their iPads for x-raying like they do computers, but there are some caveats (right now) to be sure.
I recently borrowed the new T-Mobile HTC HD2 smartphone and, after about two weeks of playing around with it, I have to say: I have a big fat crush. The screen—an astounding 4.3"—is insanely sharp. In fact, I happened to receive the phone the day before hopping on a bus for 4 1/2 hours. For 2 1/2 of those hours, I entertained myself by watching Transformers...on the phone. Not only did the crystal clear image blow me away, let me point this out: the phone's battery was still half full by the end of the movie. Crazy!
Aside from the on-the-go entertainment value with the phone—all of the movies are available for renting or purchase through the phone's Blockbuster app—the phone itself is sleek, easy-to-use, and the touch screen über responsive. (Once I turned off that annoying guess-what-word-I'm-trying-to-spell feature that is becoming a staple in many new phones, it rarely, if ever, missed a key stroke.)
Despite Disney being the "Happiest Place on Earth," there are a few things—long lines, getting lost, and finding your parking spot, just to name a few—that can really put a damper on your good time...and if you've been to any theme park, not just Disney World, you've experienced at least some of these.
So, I was intrigued when I heard about this increasingly popular iPhone app developed by Undercover Tourist, a discount ticket and travel website, that would supposedly be able to alleviate—or at least provide a solution to—many of these woes. I downloaded the app and gave it a whirl.
USA Today | Today's smartphones and PDAs could have a new use in the nation's airports: helping passengers avoid long lines at security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration is looking at installing devices in airports that home in and detect personal electronic equipment. The aim is to track how long people are stuck in security lines. Information about wait times could then be posted on websites and in airports across the country.
"This technology will produce valuable data that can be used in a variety of ways," TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches said, noting it could help prevent checkpoint snarls.
But civil-liberties experts worry that such a system enables the government to track people's whereabouts. "It's serious business when the government begins to get near people's personal-communication devices," said American Civil Liberties Union privacy expert Jay Stanley.
For the last week or so, I spent some time playing around with a couple of iPhone/iPod Touch apps created by a company called MemoryLifter.* As the name suggests, the apps are of the brain food sort. While they offer an assortment of genres—anatomy, chemistry abbreviations, world flags, etc.—I was most interested in the language apps.
Each language available—there are 10 right now: German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, French, Chinese, Japanese, and Swedish—comes with an assortment of area-specific apps, like basic vocab, verbs, education & work, family, shopping & restaurant, and more.
CNN | More air travelers may soon be scanning their smartphones instead of paper slips at airport gates.
United has become the latest airline to offer mobile boarding passes for customers equipped with Web-enabled mobile phones or devices, such as iPhones or BlackBerrys.
United passengers traveling within the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands can now log on to mobile.united.com to check in for their flights via their smartphones.
I recently had the chance to borrow one of the newish T-Mobile MyTouch Android smart phones so I could test out a handful of travel apps. (Proof that, as cool as they are, you don't need an iPhone to have useful programs on your cell.) I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the phone itself—the touch screen is not as sensitive as I would like it to be; plus, I'm an avid texter and prefer to have an actual keyboard at my disposal—but it does have some apps worth pointing out.
CarDar Lite: Driving in a strange city can be tricky. Finding your car in a strange city can be trickier. CarDar Lite let's you pinpoint your parking spot on a map, using either GPS or a manual marker, and when it's time to head home, it will point you in the right direction. The biggest downfall for me? Even if you have a good signal, you need to be outside for the phone to pinpoint where you are. (I had to manually lock down a parking spot.)
Cost: Free for the Lite version, with unobtrusive ads; $.99 without.
With spring on the horizon but record-breaking cold temperatures still ravaging parts of the country, everyone—especially travelers caught by a surprise storm or frigid temps—is doing what they can to stay warm.
While most people temper the bitter chill by adding multiple layers to their outerwear—that seems reasonable, no?—for some, that is apparently not enough. Enter iTunes App Store.
I know what you're thinking. How can an iPhone app possibly help keep me warm? Mashable reviewed an app that claims to be able to turn your phone into a hand-warming device. How does "Pocket Heater" work?
The app works by stressing the iPhone's processor, battery and other functions to cause the device to overheat and hence become warm to the touch. In theory, this stressing shouldn't cause any damage to the device or yourself, but this is still something we'd classify as "no warranty, use at your own peril."