Technology - Mobile
Foursquare, a social media tool that encourages users to “check-in” at venues, realized a phenomenal 3,400% growth last year, with 381 million check-ins worldwide. The company just released a fun infographic that reveals the most popular places in 2010, according to its members’ updates.
Imagine if your everyday hardcover book came with rules about where you could read it. Sounds crazy, but in the digital world we hardly bat an eye about similar restrictions. For instance, iBooks titles must be read on Apple devices.
For e-bookworms who love the platform, but could do without the Apple pits, Google just debuted the largest multi-platform cyber-bookshop, Google eBooks, with over 3 million titles (most of which are free). What sets the site apart—and has charmed several top travel publishers—is its quest for open access. Reading materials aren’t tied to a device; they’re stowed in the digital cloud. So, users enjoy limitless storage, as well as compatibility with more than 85 devices, including the Android, Sony Reader, and iPad.
We all know about the iPad and Kindle. Whether on the TV, the side of a bus, or a billboard, you can hardly turn a corner nowadays without seeing an ad for the game-changing devices. They’re everywhere. And while I’m certainly not anti-iPad/Kindle (I absolutely love them), I think it’s important for any traveler to know about and consider all available options.
That being said, there were a truckload of tablets revealed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (more than 80!), so I wanted to share a few that I’m most excited about:
No matter how miserable your shoveling chores were this morning, I bet you wouldn't trade places with a stranded traveler in a snowstorm. Flight delays typically mean another day or five stuck in a strange city without an itinerary.
—That is, unless John Boris can help it.
Over the past year, when severe weather or natural disaster has trapped tourists at the airports, Lonely Planet Americas’s executive vice president and managing director has been making his popular city-guide apps (iPhone, iPod; iPad) completely FREE for download at iTunes for 72 hours. (Normally, they sell for as much as $5.99!)
I'm skeptical of mobile internet gadgets that promise anything more
than a snail's-pace speed. But Virgin Mobile's MiFi 2200 Mobile
Hotspot surprised me. In random places around New York City (er, that
is, random bars in Brooklyn), the slim, tiny device kept me connected
via its zippy 3G network.
It nearly made me regret buying the more expensive 3G-enabled iPad
for my wife for Christmas. There's a compelling argument for buying
the cheaper iPad and pairing it with a mobile WiFi hotspot (several
are on the market). With Virgin's MiFi, up to five devices can connect
to the same local WiFi network. Of course, that means five devices
then compete for the already-modest signal.
Smart travel is all about consolidation. One of the best ways book-lugging adventurers can streamline is to invest in an e-reader that can store thousands of books—and other reading material—in a single lightweight device. But with so many e-readers on the market, choosing the right one can be maddening. Here's your rope out of the consumer quicksand.
Today and tomorrow are among the busiest travel days for the entire year, as folks make their ways to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving. If you’re one of the many who will brave the crowded airports (something I have done once, and will never do again), you may not be able to avoid delays, but you can at least get a heads-up.
For the tenth year, Travelocity has set up its Thanksgiving Task Force, which places spotters in 12 airports across the country to monitor and post updates on security wait times, delays and cancellations, and crowd conditions.
Traveling around the holidays—particularly Thanksgiving—can be challenging, to say the least. The snowy weather, massive crowds of people flocking home to see their families, and surge of flight delays and cancellations can chip away at one's holiday spirit.
Google wants to make travelers' ordeals a little more tolerable (once they make it onto their flights). The company is bringing back its free Wi-Fi for the holidays offer from 2009, but with a twist: instead of offering the service at airports around the country, they’ll be sponsoring free inflight Wi-Fi.
The service—which usually costs passengers $9.99 per flight, through Gogo—will be available on all AirTran, Delta, and Virgin America domestic flights between November 20, 2010 and January 2, 2011.
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of iStock.
I’m one of those people who can’t go too long without plugging into my iPod, especially when I'm on the road. Luckily, more and more hotels are now furnishing rooms with iPod docks—but plenty others still don’t. And never mind vacation rental homes, which can be all over the place when it comes to amenities.
In situations like that, you either go without or bring something along. (Preferably something that won’t take up too much space in your suitcase.) One option is the Philips Fidelio DS7550 portable iPod speaker dock, which I had the opportunity to borrow this week.
Like most people, my phone is always with me, and serves as my primary camera for spur-of-the-moment pics. But as a Blackberry user, while the image quality is amazing (for a phone), there aren’t any fun bonus features that come with it.