57 years after Walt Disney first opened the gates to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, would-be visitors to Sleeping Beauty’s castle no longer have to travel to see the magic. Now there’s an app for that. OK, not really, very little beats the look in a child’s eyes when they first meet Mickey or a favorite princess on Main Street. But for those planning a trip, or those for whom one is still in the amorphous future, the folks at Disney have “Imagineered” an app: Disneyland Explorer for iPad. It takes virtual visitors on a pretty extensive tour of the entire California Disney experience.
Families can use a standard navigation menu, or simply swipe through the two parks – Disneyland and it’s younger sibling Disney California Adventure – to discover not just the rides, but also the restaurants, nightlife, shopping and hotels. There are 100 “touch points” in the app – that is 100 things to find and tap. Many just describe the associated attraction, but others offer photographs, short videos, and a few toggle some interactive treats kids will enjoy including a chance to choreograph a fireworks show or ride up – and then plummeting down – the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
This “happiest app on earth” is free to download and while its primary purpose is to get us calling our travel agents and packing our bags, as souvenir, wish, or a peek at what’s changed in oh, say, 35 years, it’s admirable as a stand-alone product. As always when Imagineers get behind a project, the presentation is slick, seamless, and will leave tourists past and future wanting more.
American Express has launched an app for members and subscribers to their magazine, Departures, to help them find the best shopping, eating, drinking, and hotels in a variety of cities around the world with Departures Ultimate City Guides.
While there are plenty of apps for finding just those things in cities around the globe, this app clearly caters to more of a “high roller” crowd than those other apps. The magazine Departures is only available for Platinum and Centurion card members of American Express. Loosely translated, that means that this magazine and this app is for those that make a lot of money only. Getting a Platinum card apparently requires a six-figure income minimum. The Centurion card is available by invitation only, requires $150,000 of annual spending with American Express, and has a $2500/year membership fee, but it does come with a personal concierge service. Oh, and the card is made of titanium. The magazine also has content focused on issues of the 99% such as: plastic surgery addiction, custom clothing for men, and all kinds of articles on world travel.
This is an app for those who are looking for a higher class of digital travel guide, one that will not point out all the hotels around them, but the five-star hotels. This is for finding restaurants where the gratuity would likely feed a middle-class family of five for a week. This is for finding lounges where the cost of a bottle of wine would let a college student party for a full four years.
Note that while the app is free to download, to enter it, it requires an authentication code from an issue of the Departures magazine, which again, is only for those high-earning Platinum and Centurion cardholders with American Express. The app is universal, as having to download two separate versions of an app is just so upper-middle-class.
Regular users of public transport know that it’s a bit of a maze to navigate through. It’s all too easy to stick with the tried and tested routes while still not really knowing anything else about travelling around a city. HopStop sets out to help in such matters by offering detailed public transit, walking, taxi and biking directions for dozens of cities throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
A free app, HopStop offers directions from the user’s current location, the ability to find nearby subway stations or bus stops along with estimates for taxi costs ensuring there are plenty of options.
High quality transit maps are available for NYC, LIRR, Metro North and San Francisco, with updates for NYC transit advisory services. Further biking directions are available for cities such as NYC, Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco.
For the disabled users, it’s easy to see what services are wheelchair accessible, plus calorie consumption and carbon emissions are calculated for the health and environment conscious.
HopStop is out now and set to solve everyone’s travelling woes in both new and familiar cities.
Car Trip is an inexpensive app that helps users while driving. It keeps track of the exact distance till the destination as well as plans the most advantageous route to take to get there.
For the fuel conscious, it also calculates how much fuel is required and how much it’ll cost the driver, according to the average speed of the car. It might be a feature already available on some cars but for those of us with older cars, it’s an extremely useful concept for long trips.
The app is laid out in a simple manner and even keeps track of the next five days of weather reports which is useful for planning ahead.
For the planning obsessive who’s working on a budget, Car Trip is an ideal way to organize an all important long distance trip.
It’s out now, currently priced at $0.99, before returning to its original price of $1.99 soon.
MyCityWay has a new app designed to help visitors find their way around their latest destination, or even their current one. MyCityWay USA offers information on restaurants, bars, hotels, shopping, tourist attractions, and more. Users choose the city which they want to view, from over 50 cities across the US offered in the app, a short information download initiates, and hten a variety of info on various types of places can be pulled up based on type. Location and phone info are offered, with the ability to call the place directly, view it on a map, and get directions to it. Restaurants that support OpenTable for reservations can be accessed through the app as well. Locations can be added to a list of favorites in the app, shared on Evernote, or added to contacts.
MyCityWay USA is not just for visitors – residents of cities. can use the app to find places that might be more appropriate to them, such as grocery stores, laundromats, and Craigslist listings. Of course, the two key essentials can be found in both app views: restrooms and wifi. Jobs also appears in both views – in case that vacation destination should turn into a new home. MyCityWay USA is available as a free download.
When most people think live plays they immediately think Broadway: the Great White Way. Maybe they even think off-Broadway if they are adventurous. But real theatre lovers – of musicals, dramas, fresh originals and truly timeless classics – London’s West End is, in this Theatrephile opinion anyway, where the best live action lives. And, yes Agatha’s Christie’s longest running play ever The Moustetrap is still booking in 2012.
Now there’s an app for lucky local London culture seekers, travellers and even those of us who just want to admire from afar. London Theatre is a universal, cross-platform mobile guide to The West End. It’s also a ticket agent for LastMinuteTheatreTickets.com. The app also has info and tix for special events and all sorts of cultural fare from opera to dance to concert listings.
For everyone the app offers news, lucid reviews and cast interviews from the website’s blog. For each theatre address users can even get GPS guidance – ideal for those planning on a New Year theatre junket across the pond.
This is done through its quarterly updates by editors who offer the best inside knowledge as well as word-of-mouth recommendations from the locals.
London: Condé Nast Traveller City Guide comes with over 500 fully searchable listings, encompassing Food & Drink, where best to stay, shopping locations, things to see & do and what’s worth checking out as part of the nightlife. GPS capabilities, offline maps and augmented reality functionality all makes it easy to explore and find the places within London.
Besides that, there are audio tours of the editors’ favorite places, and a To Do list and travel journal for the ever organized traveller.
London: Condé Nast Traveller City Guide is available now for free.
The arrival of iOS5 has meant that many app developers have had to update their products to work with the new operating system. Fortunately many, like TomTom, have used that opportunity to improve upon an already successful app.
TomTom 1.9 offers numerous changes, most notably optimization for the iPad at last.
iPad optimization means that TomTom now offers a full-screen display which promises the ability to see the driving view at the same time as the Advanced Lane Guidance images that we’ve all come to appreciate from the product. Ultimately, it’s all down to space and who can resist the saying ‘bigger is better’ in this case? More room to see what’s going on has to be good for drivers as they keep an eye on the road as well as their TomTom app.
The interface for both iPhone and iPad users has been updated and improved upon, ensuring that TomTom is quicker than ever to use. Driving view can be checked with just one touch from anywhere with guidance options similarly easy to check out. Even switching between different route types takes mere moments thanks to the improvements made to the app.
As we’ve all come to expect from TomTom, maps have also been updated to take into account any road changes in recent times.
TomTom users may have also found that they had trouble with their existing subscription to TomTom HD Traffic before this update. Fortunately for them, to make up for the inconvenience TomTom will be extending their subscription by 30 days as way of compensation. Hurrah!
One bad piece of news for anyone still using an iPhone 3G however, this is the last update of TomTom that will fully support the device. Future updates can be downloaded for any iPhone 3G users but the new features won’t be available. Maybe this is the ideal time to upgrade to a shiny new 4S?
Gogobot, the useful social-networking travel website, has just released Gogobot, a useful social-networking iPhone app. It’s less confusing than it sounds. Trust me.
The website allows users to chronicle their travels throughout the world and post questions for recommendations on where to eat, stay, etc… Other users can then make their own recommendations, which are automatically linked to database entries with images, addresses and contact information. The app allows users to access their trip plans, check for recommendations, write up their own reviews for a location on-the-spot and even create their own digital postcards to commemorate their travels. The only feature that really seems absent is the ability to post recommendations for other users, but on-the-spot reviews will be saved to their account to be used later if need be.
Given the sheer amount of useful applications, the whole “make a postcard” thing seems almost quaint by comparison. That’s not to say it’s not a neat idea, though. I can imagine it would save a lot on postage. Additionally, their look can be customized somewhat, and who doesn’t enjoy creating nifty looking photo-things to send to friends and family?
Anyone who travels or plans to do any traveling should take a look at Gogobot. It’s totally free, and it’s in the App Store right now.
Itchy feet? I know the feeling well and it’s not because of poor personal hygiene. Sometimes it’s just nice to get away from it all and discover new lands and cultures. It’s not always as simple as that though which gives an app like TripColor a dual purpose.
For those unable to travel, it’s an app that enables users to browse the blogs of people already on their journeys. Glorious photos can be added to keep everything about the app attractive to look at while a location function means it’s easy to see the path a traveller has taken. Users can browse a variety of different travel blogs but the real benefit stems from keeping track of a friend or family member who’s going on a trip of a lifetime.
That’s where the other purpose comes into play. For the user who’s planning a journey away, not only can they show others their journey but they can keep a diary of all their adventures to look back on at a later date. It’s a pretty neat idea and clearly more fun than using an all purpose blogging tool, with the added benefit of being able to blog without an internet connection.
At the grand price of nothing, this is surely the ideal time to give a different kind of social blogging app a try?
Keeping track of health data and checkup information for all the family can be pretty tedious. After all, who wants to focus on their ailments all the time? Potentially knowing that knowledge or, more importantly, having that information on hand at all times, could save the life of a much loved family member. As an example, I’m allergic to paracetomol so what happens if I fall unconcious and wind up in hospital in need of painkillers urgently? An app like medAssist will ensure that such allergy information is readily available for any medical professional.
The app offers a place to store simple information such as date of birth as well as more complex and involved knowledge such as allergies, family disease history, blood group, even when the user had surgery or an X-Ray last. Chronic ailments such as joint problems or disease can be stored along with contact details for the family doctor making it easy to check in.
medAssist is one of few apps that could genuinely save lives. At $3.99 that’s a small price to pay.
I wouldn’t normally copy and paste directly from a press release announcing a new app but I feel that this one is worth the exception. Emergency Voice has been described as an “app that combines the awesomeness of sparkling unicorns with the usefulness of a spoon.” Besides raising quite a smile from me, that’s actually quite a good way of describing it. For travellers who don’t know the local language while abroad, Emergency Voice certainly has the potential to be as vital to them as a spoon.
It’s an app that contains recordings and writings of 5 different emergency sentences in 80 different languages. In theory this will cover users for a wide variety of situations! Emergency Voice appreciates that there are certain priorities in life so these sentences consist of ‘I need help!’, ‘I need food!’, ‘I need water!’, ‘I am hurt!’ and ‘I need to get to the embassy!’. All the essentials basically.
Emergency Voice is only $0.99 so this is certainly an inexpensive backup plan for travellers this summer.
We all know that we need to do our bit to help the environment and reduce carbon emissions but it’s not always as easy as we’d like it to be. Carsharing is a great way of doing this. The amount of cars on the road with only one person in them is massive and goes a long way to damaging the environment as well as causing more traffic congestion. A website by the name of Zebigo has been making it easier to arrange carshares and now there’s an app devoted to that same purpose.
The whole service allows users to be matched up with others going to the same place. It’s ideal for commuting, going to events or one way trips. It could even potentially help people find new friends. Cautious types will appreciate that a free background check can be arranged which increases the likelihood of being matched and also makes the whole thing much safer. Users can also choose to travel with the same gender or only with other employees at their company. There’s even a ratings system so that riders and drivers can check out past comments before accepting a match.
The app is free while riders can pay the driver through their PayPal account just to cover transportation costs as well as Zebigo’s small fee for using the service.
Banksy is a mysterious soul indeed. A British graffiti artist and political activist, he travels around creating street art that’s frequently dark and satirical. It’s admired by many, considered as vandalism by few, but ultimately it’s very memorable. Banksy himself is memorable by name and reputation but he’s also an enigma as no one knows his true identity. That’s boosted his career a fair bit however with books of his artwork selling well (I have one on my coffee table as I write this) and his first film Exit Through the Gift Shop also proving very successful.
While fans can always consult his work online or through his book, a much more satisfying way of doing so is to go to the artwork itself. A new app by the name of Banksy-Locations sets out to make that all the simpler by offering a personal tour of all the street art. The app allows users to find Banksy locations via dropping a pin on a map, looking up via the user’s current location or by searching through images in a gallery or by name. It’s pretty acurate stuff too and certainly saves a lot of aggravation.
For users who would rather stay at home, there’s always the option of viewing videos by and about Banksy as well as the image gallery that offers photos of his street pieces as well as installations. Banksy news is regularly kept up to date too with presumably new artwork kept track of once he devises some.
Throughout the app maintains an appearance that is bound to appeal to the minimalist nature of Banksy style art with a great gritty edge. Banksy-Locations is a pretty comprehensive app for the graffiti or Banksy fan and looks set to be a great way of discovering new art.
Summer is upon us (although us Brits wouldn’t be so sure about that one) and so begins the great holiday rush. One such popular resort in Europe is that of Santorini, an island just off Greece’s mainland. There’s a lot to like about the place, with some fantastic geography thanks to its volcanic cone and all the great mythology that comes from Greece and its islands.
For those who intend to visit the island, there’s now an app to help guide the way. Experience Santorini is available in iPhone and iPad varieties, both offering a user friendly and welcoming way of helping its users get acquainted with the island. It promises to reveal the place’s darkest secrets and offers more than 500 suggestions for places to stay, eat, shop and enjoy. The app works offline also to ensure that there are no pesky excessive roaming data charges involved too. As is always useful with such things, the app tells the user what attractions are nearby them, whether it be a beach, museum, archaeological site or just a nice cafe to relax at.
The iPad version also boasts more than 20 minutes of videos offering interviews with archaeologists and winemakers of the area amongst others.
Throughout the rest of the app, the general ambience and design looks ideal for the tourist, so hopefully it’ll be a great help to anyone visiting Santorini this summer.
The app is out now and priced at $4.99 for the iPhone/iPod Touch version and $6.99 for the iPad HD version.
There’s a new competitor for the navigation app throne and its name is Don’t Panic. Admittedly this is a new competitor for the UK crowd as it only currently works in the UK but it could be well worth a look for those from these fair shores.
Don’t Panic promises to be precise in its turn by turn instructions as well as speedy with some impressive promises of being up to 100 times faster than its competitors. An intuitive search feature is easily and instantly accessible from any point within the app and the ability to find destinations via partial addresses and points of interests is possible along with other typical navigational features.
A constant internet connection isn’t even needed as the maps are available offline presumably aiding the speed issue hugely with promises of no stuttering or image lag.
For the asking price, Don’t Panic offers unlimited free updates for the app with iPhone users exclusively getting unlimited free updates on the maps that come with the app itself.
Don’t Panic is available now for UK users and priced at £19.99.
In Britain, it’d be easy to assume that once someone’s in London, there’s no need for them to go elsewhere for some fantastic sights and some great day trips. That couldn’t be further from the truth with there being some terrific places to go for day trips within comfortable reach of The Big Smoke. Roving traveller Earl Steinbicker, previously known for his work with Waltzing Through Vienna has come up trumps again with London’s Backyard, an app that aims to provide users with 25 one day adventures within a reasonable distance of London.
In each case, a suggested walking tour is provided along with various interactive maps, photos, suggestions for attractions that could be visited and some ever useful practical advice. Pretty much everything possible has been covered here ensuring that users have everything they could need in order to get the most out of each trip.
London’s Backyard covers a fair amount of places ranging from the old fashioned seafront style town of Hastings to Winchester, Guildford, Canterbury and Dover. Each area is covered extensively ensuring that there’s something of interest for all people. For instance, Colchester in Essex, North of London, is not only Britain’s oldest record town with some extensive Celtic and Roman history to be seen, but it also offers a great zoo, popular with many people.
Less well known places such as the canal village of Stoke Bruerne and Woodstock in Oxfordshire are also examined ensuring that people can get away from the hustle and bustle of London easily, either via public transport or by car.
Many of these places might be familiar to British readers but I doubt they know a huge amount about them all making London’s Backyard ideal for everone.
It’s out now for all iOS devices, it’s an universal app and it’s a mere $2.99 which seems a good deal for over 3 weeks worth of daytrips!
Travelling internationally can be complicated, and visiting a foreign city without doing some research is probably a bad idea. But why force yourself to do all the work when plenty of travel guides have already done the legwork for you? That’s the idea behind Smart Travelling Guides, which boast that they aim to “make the experience of worldwide travel more rewarding, less mediocre, and easier to navigate.”
Smart Travelling Guides provide recommendations for food, culture, nightlife, hotels, and shops. Trumpeting that it can find the “best places in town,” the app displays pictures of the place in question, an upbeat description, and finally provides a map. With more than 5,000 hand-picked recommendations, Smart Travelling Guides claims to provide a unique database of great experiences, from spectacular cups of coffee and delicious meals to luxurious hotels.
For the first seven days, the app permits access to all cities at no charge; afterwards, however, each city’s “guide” must be purchased. The app currently supports the following cities:
Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Dublin, Florence, Hamburg, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Marseille, Miami, Milan, Munich, Naples, New York, Nice, Palma, Paris, Prague, Rome, Salzburg, San Francisco, Stockholm, Valencia, Venice, Vienna, and Zürich.
The app’s database also provides information on how other users have rated a place. Making use of the iPhone’s hardware, the app can find places based on your current location. The travel guides also stay up-to-date thanks to online synchronization with Smart Travelling’s online database. (Such updates come at no extra charge.) As another ease-of-use bonus, users can also download content for offline access.
So, Smart Travelling Guides provides a great resource of select restaurants, hotels, shops, and more for travelers looking to take advantage of sightseeing in a new city. Next time you’re in Istanbul or Venice, perhaps Smart Travelling Guides will be of use!
Smart Travelling Guides can be downloaded as a free app, with extra “guides” unlockable via in-app purchase.
Who knows the most about an area? Tourist spot or otherwise? No, it’s not the travel guide writer. It’s actually the local person. Local knowledge is worth countless travel books and it’s nowhere near as easy to get hold of as people would like. Fortunately there’s an app out there that could well bridge the gap. It’s called SpotWorld and it’s a free app that combines social networking functionality and the humble travel guide.
Users simply choose from a variety of destinations or tap on Spots Near Me and there’s frequently a wealth of relevant information within easy grasp. All manners of different bits and pieces pop up. For instance, where I live, the nearby bus station was listed but also numerous castles near to me. Each entry coming up with a photo, a brief overview and the ability to add further information.
In bigger cities than mine, this app really comes into its own. Users can easily see interesting sights near them that might not neccessarily feature in travel guides. Plus there’s always personal experiences to consult such as a quick note about the standard of food in a nearby eatery or specific exhibits that are unmissable in the local museum.
The beauty is that everything is so welcoming to new users. They can simply rate the places they’ve visited or add their own tip. Even new photos can be added if the user wishes to do so.
When exploring a large area, there’s also the ability to create itineraries which can then be shared with the rest of the community, creating a great tour guide feature.
SpotWorld is a free app but there is some premium content available such as sets of hundreds of articles and audio readings from the locals of San Francisco and New York City. Hopefully more will be forthcoming for other major cities.
Travel apps offer a dual purpose. If you’re travelling to the chosen area, you can consult them at every turn, helping you along the way. If you’re broke, such as I am at the moment, you can stare at the pretty pictures and dream of your next holiday. Earl Steinbicker, writer of guidebooks for over 25 years, brings you his guide to Vienna in the form of Waltzing Through Vienna. Hopefully it’ll cover these two purposes rather well.
It takes you on one of 12 DIY tours of discovery, giving you step by step instructions to ensure you get to see the full route. Essentially, it’s aiming to be a tour guide but a tour guide that you can control to an extent. Plus it’s pretty darn hard to find a tour guide willing to work for $2.99!
Each location comes with a full description, links to its website, opening hours and prices. Descriptions of cafes and restaurants look to be particularly useful thanks to offering rough prices and a brief description of what kind of food is served.
If you don’t fancy following a set route, you can always look up individual places which is a neat touch. Plus you don’t have to worry about data charges as the app only needs an internet connection if you want to load up one of the website links.
While I can’t say I’ve tested Waltzing Through Vienna in Vienna itself, it certainly looks pretty appealing. Let us know if you head off to Vienna and give this a shot. For only $2.99 it looks pretty good.