‘Apps’ for Travellers


13-April-2012

In simple terms, ‘apps’ is just a short cut for the word ‘applications’ which is the term used to refer to any computer software. ‘Apps’ has now become popular because of the widespread use of mobile devices which are getting more sophisticated with time. It has become common for mobile devices to be enhanced with many ‘apps’ such as games, videos, dictionaries of many languages, calculators or book readers. All in all, ‘apps’ makes our mobile device experience a pleasant one. With the right ‘apps’, you reap great benefits from your mobile device investment.
This article will focus on ‘apps’ that can be very useful for a business or pleasure travel trip. It’s reported that over 10 million ‘apps’ have been downloaded in the last three years, and that number is steadily rising. This gives you some idea of how Smartphones have completely revolutionised the way we all communicate and access our information, and for travellers it has been an extremely welcome convenience to their lives.Let’s take a closer look at some of the best ‘apps’ for travellers.

TripAdvisor
Most travellers know of TripAdvisor; it’s perhaps the most popular travel portal on the internet. The ‘apps’ comes in handy when you are in a foreign city as you get to know the best places, hotels and restaurants, which, like Yelp (another travel app), are recommended by actual travellers. Whether you are looking for a restaurant serving a particular cuisine or for the cheapest flight to your next destination, TripAdvisor can handle it, with information that you know is reliable.

Skyscanner
Skyscanner is a flight search engine that allows users to browse for flights via price and location. Just the other day, my wife missed her flight from Kenya to Seychelles due to flight delay. With Skyscanner, I was able to give her details of alternative quick routes. Skyscanner does not sell flights directly; instead, the site can be used to find the cheapest or quickest deal for a desired route after which users are automatically transferred to the airline or travel supplier’s website to make their booking directly. The site can also give you details of cheapest fares if booked on a certain date.

Flightaware and Kayak are other popular ‘apps’ for the frequent traveller.Flightaware is a no-frills ‘apps’ to track your flight; just provide your airline and flight number and let FlightAware do the rest. Kayak, on the other hand, searches books and compares flights, hotels and car hire all over the world – the perfect travel companion.

XE Currency Exchange
Having local currency is useful and often necessary, and it is not uncommon for a traveller to run out of cash as one tends not to keep a large amount of local currency on them for fear of theft. If you are in an area where no authorised currency dealers are available, you will be happy if you had XE Currency Exchange on your smartphone. It will let you know instantly the current exchange rate and can save you from being duped by unscrupulous dealers.

Converter Plus
This all-in-one calculation ‘app’, Converter Plus, delivers numbers on nearly everything, from currency conversions to loan interest figures. It converts metric to imperial measurements for temperature, cooking volumes, length, and more.

Google Earth
The GPS chip inside your Android or iPhone makes it an indispensable tool for your travels. Whether you walk, drive, or fly, there’s a great ‘app’ for your phone that can help you get around faster. Google earth is great for checking out where you’ll be staying or a potential new neighbourhood, and you can easily zoom in to ground level anywhere in the world to scope it out.

Kindle or iBooks
This one ‘app’ is worth several travel ‘apps’ once you are in a foreign country. Why? Because although the ‘app’ is meant for reading eBooks, you can easily download any guide book about the country you are in and read the relevant sections from it.

Google Translate
Need to know how to order a beer in Beijing, or find the toilets in Tunisia – this ‘app’ can help. With more than 30 languages supported and delivering impressively accurate results most of the time, the Google Translate ‘app’ is one of the most remarkable programmes you can load onto your device and can be amazingly useful in unexpected circumstances.

Word Lens – the next big thing in the IT world
Word Lens application uses “Optical Character Recognition Technology” to recognise and translate from one language to the other. It uses the built-in camera of your phone to identify the text, after that it matches the text with its automated dictionary and then translates it efficiently. Word Lens has done miracles on iPhone and people are anxiously waiting for the Word Lens Android which is also expected to do wonders.
 

Taking your smartphone abroad – cost issue !
All of the above ‘apps’ are available for Android mobiles and iPhones and except for Word Lens are free. However, when you are using your mobile abroad and you are using "mobile roaming" – this is when you connect to an overseas network and calls are routed via that network provider instead of your home provider, at a vastly increased cost. The cost effective method is to simply find a cheap wifi spot or to purchase a local SIM with internet access. There are a number of free or cheap wifi hotspots which you will find in airports, hotels or even some restaurants. A number of global telcom providers have started selling roaming packages that provides special roaming bundle packages at a discounted price.
Local ISP Kokonet also provides low cost local wifi hotspots (Kokozone) and roaming services for its kokotalk IP telephony through an internet connection.


Sponsored by Kokonet

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