The advent of smart phones and the online app store have added a whole new dimension to travel giving you the ability to plan, purchase, explore, share and record your travels all in real time from virtually anywhere in the world with virtually anyone in the world.
Today there are over a staggering 500,000 apps available on iTunes of which close to 20,000 cover travel alone. Although a later starter Android has played fast catch-up and has an equally impressive 500,000 apps although travel has yet to gain quite the same numbers as iTunes. The third and most recent player in the market is BlackBerry with BlackBerry World and over 60,000 apps and around 3000 travel related.
With these sorts of numbers determining a top 10 is a hard ask, so we took a closer to home approach and checked out the apps we were using on our phones in the office. Here’s the result in no particular order of course ……..
Our Predictable standout favourite?
| Car Hire
Developer: DriveNow Pty Ltd
Platform: Android, iphone
OK, Admittedly we are slightly biased of course, but our favourite would have to be our very own DriveNow Car Hire App. No surprises there I guess, having nurtured and raise it from birth this happy appy will help you find and book a great rental deal at all major and popular Australian destinations. We love it, we hope you find it useful too and would love to hear your feedback. With that, enough of the spruiking and onto the other contenders.
Developer: Angry Robot
Platform: Android, iphone/ipad
WikiCamps Australia is dedicated to sharing information on caravan parks, camping sites, backpacker hostels and farm stays around Australia. It’s a great tool to research where you plan to stay before you leave or whilst you are on the road. Find out things to do and see in and around your destination and share the things you discover with others. You can rate the places you visit and a neat little feature allows you to record and store information when out of phone range to automatically be uploaded later.
| Google Places
Platform: Android, iphone/ipad
The Google Places app ticks all the right boxes when looking for a great free guide to local services and attractions. The main screen lists services broken down by 9 categories:- Restaurants, Coffee, Bars, ATMs, Petrol Stations, Hotels, Attractions, Pizza and Post office.
The inclusion of Pizza as a separate category points to the American origins of this app but does not detract from its relevance or richness of content. The app is quick, easy to view and simple to use providing plenty of information and locations using Google maps.
| XE Currency
Developer: XE.com Inc
Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iphone/ipad/ipod Touch
One of the most popular currency conversion websites in the world, XE is a simple but comprehensive currency converter that does exactly what the labels says. A perennial favourite featuring in many top ten travel lists. Enough said.
| Wi-Fi Finder
Developer: JiWire Inc
Platform: Android, iPad, iphone
A location app rather than purely travel, Wi-Fi Finder finds free or paid public Wi-Fi hotspots with the important option of downloading an offline database to enable you to get online when on the move. Scan for hotsposts in your immediate location and for public wi-Fi around the world with the option to filter by location type such as hotel, airport or cafe and provider type.
| Tripadvisor Hotels Flights Restaurants
Platform: Android, iPad, iphone
TripAdvisor has taken it’s highly acclaimed approach to hotels, restaurants and more recently added flights from website to smart phone and tablet with a simple and easy to app. Plan and book ahead or use their Near Me Now Function to find out about what’s happening in your vicinity or where to stay, visit or eat.
Developer: Skype Software S.a.r.l
Platform: Android, iPad, iphone, Symbian, Windows Phone,
Traveling overseas can often incur costly mobile phone calls – even receiving a call in many countries can be expensive. Skype provides a cheap and free alternative. The name synonymous with free VOIP calls and video calls, Skype is available on both the Android and Apple Platforms as well Windows Phone and Symbian powered handsets. Find a free wireless hotspot and fire up your Skype app and make free Skype to Skype calls and video calls. With the pre-purchase of minutes calls home to regular landlines or mobiles are charged at the already discounted skype rates.
| tripIt – Travel Organiser
Developer: TripIt Inc
Platform: Android, iPad, iphone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone,
TripIt collates all your travel plans making them available on their website, your smartphone or tablet. Simply email all your travel bookings – airline, car hire, hotel or restaurant reservations to TripIt and they regenerate your itinerary into an easy to read and access format available both on and offline. You can share your itinerary with family. friends and business colleagues, update and change on the fly, synchronise with your calendar and access a host of other information. There’s the option to upgrade to the Pro edition for an annual fee to receive additional alerts and access the add-free edition.
Developer: Microsoft Corporation
Whilst at first glance Photosynth may not appear to be a pure blood travel app one of the best things about travel is sharing your travel experiences with friends and family. Photosynth enables you to take and collate multiple photos of your surroundings and share interactive panoramas online via Twitter, Bing Maps, Facebook (with the free Photosynth.net service), email or as a simple image. Recent enhancements allow you to shoot left, right, up and down to provide an absolute 360 view point. With over 6 million users this has proven to be one of the 2011’s most popular iTunes photo apps. Only available on the iPhone.
| FlightAware Flight Tracker
Developer: FlightAware LLC
Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iphone
A great little app for tracking flights worldwide by Flight number, Flight Route or Airport. Go a step further and set up a free account on FlightAware and personalise your tracking with MyFlightAware and My Alerts. The Nearby feature allows you to track and view details on flights close to your location and search for other destinations around the world, although you can’t zoom out on the map and track a wider field of aircraft. Ads are slightly annoying but hey that’s what comes with most free apps these days.
| London Tube Deluxe
Developer: Malcolm Barclay
Platform: iPad, iphone (on the UK iTunes store)
OK this one made it on the list as we have a lucky staff member heading off to London for the Olympics. The Tube can be challenging even for locals, this handy app lets you plan your journey, find stations, keeps you informed of delays or line closures with live departure times and tells you where your nearest station is. Ideal for those new or visiting London especially during what is expected to be a very busy 2012 summer.