Technology - Mobile
I'm sure we've all had the same experience at one time or the other: a spur-of-the-moment road trip cooked up with the intention of letting loose and seeing a bit of the gorgeous country we call home, the thrill of it largely contained in the fact that none of it was planned. And then the inevitable happens. Your eyes start to droop, signs start to blur in and out of focus, and your car starts weaving in its lane slightly. You need to find a place to stay for the night. Problem is, you don't know of any around.
Well, now there's an app for that.
Summer is now at full force, which means vacations galore for seemingly countless numbers of people across the country. Even I’m readying myself to briefly part from the T+L offices for a much-needed beachside retreat in Maine. (More to come on that on another day.) With all this travel going on, I wanted to take some time to share a few of my favorite iOS apps that make travel a whole lot easier (and a lot more fun).
TechCrunch | Google just announced that it is teaming up with Virgin America to allow passengers to “test-fly” the search giant’s new Chromebook computers for free. Virgin passengers will be able to use the computers onboard their flight and at select airport gates from July 1 through September 30, 2011.
As an incentive, flyers who check out a Chromebook will receive a free WiFi session onboard Virgin America.
Virgin says that at airport gates in San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare, Boston and in Dallas-Fort Worth will include Google “Chrome Zone” lounges starting this week, where passengers can learn more about the Chromebook and check one out for their flight. Google is also partnering with the Ace Hotel in New York to offer Chromebooks in hotel guests’ rooms.
Save time getting photos online with PhotoRocket (free; Windows; Mac; iPhone), a service that uploads pictures to your social sites simultaneously.
The super-lightweight, stylish Zoom Q3HD ($300) captures audio and video in high-def. Plus, with built-in editing software that loads onto your computer via USB, sharing your footage is easy.
The Powermat Power Dual 1850 Rechargeable Backup Battery ($50) features a micro-USB and Apple connector to recharge your devices on the go—no outlet necessary.
It might be compact, but don’t underestimate the Casio Tryx ($250), with features like continuous shooting and Slide Panorama, which allows you to capture a 360-degree scene flawlessly.
Photo courtesy of Casio
Five-course dinners at top restaurants around the country no longer have to be such a costly part of your trip, thanks to an influx of restaurant deals found both online and via mobile apps. The BlackboardEats site offers discounts—such as 30 percent off dinner at Los Angeles’s Mo-Chica or New York’s Matsuri—to anyone who signs up. All you have to do is present the discount code at the restaurant at any time. Every venue is handpicked by a staff of professional restaurant reviewers (many from the now-defunct print version of Gourmet). Sometimes the deals involve mystery dishes that are only available to members, making it more of a food enthusiasts’ club than a coupon service.
USA Today | For years, one of the top if not the top amenity on many road warriors' wish lists has been free Wi-Fi at the airport. Slowly but surely, it's happening.
Take a look at the USATODAY.com Airport Guides, airport websites, and various commercial and user-generated Wi-Fi directories. You'll see there are now hundreds of U.S. airports offering travelers complimentary wireless Internet access.
San Francisco? Free. Orlando? Free. Seattle, St. Louis and San Jose? Free, free, free. Washington's Dulles and National airports? As of April, 2011, free as well.
With the advent of the smartphone, finding a cell phone that has access to travel-friendly apps is easy. Nowadays, the real trick is finding one that not only can run all those apps, but also do it seamlessly.
So when I tested out the new T-Mobile G2x, powered by Android 2.2, I was happy to see that it was top notch. The phone, released just a few weeks ago, is a great addition to the slew of new Android-based smartphones. I found the touchscreen to be extremely responsive and on point when making selections and even typing texts. (Though I should admit, I don't think it's quite up to par with iPhone's responsiveness, but that's a feat that seems to be among the biggest challenges for all creators of touchscreens.) Still, the mistakes made while firing off texts were few and far between.
Innovator Sam Shank
Who He Is: “I got bitten by the travel bug late in life,” serial entrepreneur Sam Shank says. He’s certainly making up for lost time. In the past decade, Shank founded the hotel site travelpost.com, and dealbase.com, which compiles online travel discounts. His latest venture, Hotel Tonight, comes to the aid of stranded travelers.
His Big Idea: While on a business trip to Seattle last year, Shank’s plans changed at the last minute and he needed to stay an extra night, so he tried to book something on his phone—a surprisingly difficult process. The result? The free Hotel Tonight app (iPhone/iPad), which instantly delivers three one-night hotel deals per city in different categories and lets you book one in just seconds. The app is available for Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., with Las Vegas on the way.
Photo courtesy of Sam Shank
All this Royal Wedding chatter got you thinking about your next trip to London? Or maybe it’s the weather forecast in Santorini you’re after (high 60s, scattered showers and possible T-storms until Saturday….) Check out Best of Europe, Travel + Leisure’s latest digital edition for iPad ($1.99), now at TravelandLeisure.com/iPad or on the App Store. The editors of T+L have put together an essential compendium of where to go right now from the Azores to Istanbul, just in time for your summer holiday planning.
It’s no secret that the introduction of iPads into the market, just over a year ago, has resulted in the reshaping of how just about every industry imaginable does business. And as I’ve reported before, hotels are no exception to this.
A relatively new trend that I’m seeing on the rise is the use of iPads as personal, portable concierges.
InterContinental’s new Concierge Insider Guides app features more than 120 destinations around the world—all in which one of the hotel chain’s properties can be found, of course.