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Trip Doctor: Best GPS Apps for Travel

best GPS apps

Looking to get from A to B with nothing but your smartphone? GPS apps are steadily increasing in functionality and accuracy—giving even Google a run for its money.

Best for City Driving: Google Maps
The all-around app to beat, Google is particularly good in urban environments. It allows you to toggle between maps, street views, and 3-D cityscapes, and provides an extraordinarily complete picture of your surroundings. It takes you from car to foot to public transportation seamlessly, and (for Android users) it even has indoor maps of stores, hotels, and other buildings. Points of interest and area businesses are well marked and up-to-date. Free; Android and iOS.

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TODAY Show Video: Top Travel Sites and Apps

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Mark Orwoll shares travel websites and apps that will make it easier to book your next trip.

Backbid: Reverse hotel bids
Post a reservation request (dates, location, number of stars) with maximum rate you're willing to pay. Hotels in that destination will bid for your business, presenting the lowest rates they can offer. Unlike other bidding sites, you know the specific hotel where you'll be staying using Backbid. When I tried it, I got my first reverse bid within two minutes at a savings of more than 10 percent of what I would have paid on the hotel's own website.

See More of the Best Travel Websites and Apps

Tingo: Automated hotel rebooking at lower rates
Book your hotel through Tingo and if the rates go down, Tingo automatically rebooks you at the lower rate. It's great for those travelers who know which hotel they want to stay at but are concerned whether they really got the "best" rate at time of booking. Tingo only rebooks if there are no rebooking or cancellation penalties and the price difference is refunded automatically to your credit card. All you have to do is enjoy your hotel stay.

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Cool New iPhone Photography Apps

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I finally pitched my Droid2 for an iPhone recently and am still floored by how good the camera on it is. But now that I've figured out Instagram, I'm excited to see there's a bunch of new iPhoneography apps out there to play with. Here are some of my favorites:

Piction—$0.99
Want to add text to your photos? With Piction you can easily add captions in a variety of different fonts, seen above, including a few custom ones alongside classics like Futura (so you can make all Instagram photos look like screen grabs from a Wes Anderson movie, if you're so inclined).

Vine—free
Vine is like Instagram but for small gif-like looping videos. I'm still figuring out how to use this (confession: my entire feed is just videos of my cat, so far), but it has a lot of potential to share something more compelling than just snapshots. Be warned, the most recent update includes a requirement that users must be 17+ due to some, ahem, questionable content cropping up on the app.

For more new favorites, click through.

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Tech Thursday: Mophie Juice Pack Helium for the iPhone 5

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We constantly obsess our iPhone accessories here at the T+L offices—deciding between that J.Crew chevron stripped case or the Otterbox may be Trip Doctor's debate of the century—but our eyes are officially turning to a third option. Mophie, the adventure-friendly brand whose juice pack cases add extra battery life (and heft) to your mobile devices, is launching a super-slim model—the first of its kind for the latest generation of iPhones. The Helium is expected to add 80% extra charge to your battery life (that's six hours of talk time, or seven hours of web browsing)—and it also features forward-facing speakers for enhanced sound. Pre-orders opened to the public yesterday, with devices shipping nationwide on February 19. For now, the slim gunmetal finish will do—but we'll take this opportunity to plea for some fresh designs on the Helium 2.0.

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

Photo courtesy of mophie.

City Guides for Coffee Lovers

Best Coffee city guides

I’m guilty of both a caffeine addiction and a picky palate, so easily tracking down coffee spots is fairly critical to my enjoyment of a city. It’s not rocket science abroad, where quality shakeratos and Nesfrappes are the lay of the land, but domestically, we’re still getting our sea legs when it comes to a good cup of Joe. That’s where the Best Coffee city guides come into play: the collection of iPhone, Android, and iPad apps points travelers in the direction of reputable cafes, provides tips on what to order at each spot, and—for the uber geeky among us—denotes the types of beans, grinders, and machines employed there.

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Trip Doctor: OpenTable Acquires Foodspotting for $10 Million

OpenTable

It’s been a big week for tech news, but for this foodie, no announcement was more exciting than OpenTable’s $10 million acquisition of Foodspotting. For starters, the dish-sharing app will bring new, visual content to the reservation titan’s portfolio of listings. But over time, we can expect the partnership to yield unprecedented search tools to help us find (and enjoy) our next great meal.

Officially, the deal isn’t yet written in stone, but OpenTable users will already see some changes. In advance of Tuesday’s announcement, OpenTable began rolling out preliminary features, such as incorporating user-generated photos from Foodspotting onto restaurant listings. Eventually, most restaurants on OpenTable will have a visual menu, documented with snapshots from Foodspotting users. And from a social standpoint, the partnership will allow you to canvass your Facebook friends for their favorite dishes at the restaurants you’re scheduled to visit.

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Trip Doctor: How Do the New BlackBerry 10 Smartphones Stack Up for Travel?

Blackberry 10

Much ink has already been spilled on the relative pros and cons of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system that powers the new BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10, announced Wednesday in New York, but what does this latest update in the super-competitive and ever-evolving smartphone space mean for travelers? Here’s a peek at our favorite features.

BlackBerry Balance: Taking advantage of BlackBerry’s work-friendly DNA, this feature lets you toggle between “Work” and “Personal” modes, so that you don’t have to worry about getting disturbing emails from the office while relaxing on a stunning Caribbean beach (both the Z10 and the Q10 are world-compatible for roaming, regardless of carrier).

BlackBerry Peek: Say a message comes in for you while you’re streaming a movie—just swipe from left to right and you’ll get split-screen preview of the message while your movie continues to play. In other words, you don’t need to turn off your in-terminal entertainment just to see if that email contains a Delta upgrade.

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T+L Twitter Chat Today: Hottest Travel Trends for 2013

airplane

With each new year comes new places to go and new ways to travel. Rising destinations, cutting-edge apps, and travel industry trends will surely make headlines in 2013. To predict what we'll all be buzzing about, Travel + Leisure has enlisted a panel of experts, who will offer their insight on topics ranging from the splashiest hotel openings and buzziest emerging destinations to the most essential new tech tools. And you're invited to listen in.

The tweet-up will take place TODAY, Wednesday, January 23, from 2–3 p.m. EDT.

The Hosts
Amy Farley, Travel + Leisure news editor (@afarles)

Peter Frank, Travel + Leisure director of editorial product development (@pfrank1)

The Panel
Barbara Delollis, hotel blogger for USA Today (@barbdelollis)

Jason Clampet, co-founder and head of content at Skift.com (@jasonclampet)

Stacey Small, president and founder of Elite Travel International (@EliteTravelGal)

Jared Simon, COO and co-founder of HotelTonight (@HotelTonight)

Henry Harteveldt, airline, hotel, and travel industry analyst at Hudson Crossing (@hharteveldt)

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CES Download: Best New Travel Gadgets for 2013

Best New Travel Gadgets for 2013: Sony Xperia Z

Over 3,000 exhibitors and 1.85 million square feet of eye-popping innovations later, annual gadget industry gala the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has finally wrapped in Las Vegas, leaving frequent travelers surprised in more ways than one.

An evolutionary, not revolutionary, year for technology, key revelations nonetheless spanned the entire spectrum, including the weird (hooray, Internet-enabled forks), wild (see: self-driving cars), and wacky (enter the robotic spider walkers). Happily, a few—i.e. smartphones and tablets with PC-grade power, Android-powered cameras, and remote home security system—may even make sense to the lay viewer. Big trends in 2013: Smart—a.k.a. online-enabled—everything, mass interconnectivity between gizmos, and growing set-top performance from pocket-sized devices, courtesy of performance-obsessed chipmakers like AMD and Qualcomm.

Related: Best Travel Gadgets

Too busy sprinting between connections to enjoy scene-stealers including 110-inch 4K or OLED (read: ultra-crisp, high-def) televisions and table-sized touchscreens, however? No sweat. Try one of these pocket rockets—among the year's top travel gadgets, and each destined to find a welcome home inside any purse or carry-on—instead. So what if they lack the sheer stopping power of living picture windows the size of billboards? All are infinitely easier to cram in an overhead bin, and infinitely more practical in-flight companion.

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Robert Doisneau, Paris les Halles Free iPad App

Doisneau, Paris les Halles

More than 110,000 visitors attended the Spring 2012 exhibition "Doisneau, Paris les Halles," a collection of photographs that portray the city’s demolished wholesale food market at the Hotel de Ville. The exhibition was timely: the old structures are being torn down. But if you missed the show—or were discouraged by the lines and the weather—it’s not too late to capture an enhanced digital experience. Now, you can download the free iPad application, which includes photographs, interviews, and special reports.

Paris-based Tina Isaac is a contributor to TravelandLeisure.com.

Photo courtesy of Doisneau Paris les Halles

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