Every once in awhile, it’s a good idea to take another look at smartphone travel apps. Like so many other things we get good at using, it’s easy to become accustomed to the apps we have. That would be fine if we were talking about bricks, nails or lumber. A 2×4 is not likely to change much over time. We’re going to use the same hammer and nails on that piece of wood as we did 5 or 10 years ago. But the world of technology is an ever-changing beast, directing much of our learning effort to new technology we need to use right now. Still, what were once thought of as nice-to-have accessories to play with when traveling are becoming more of a must-have in the traveler toolbelt.
TripIt organizes our travel about as easily as possible. Simply forward confirmations from airlines, car rental companies and hotels to email@example.com and our travel arrangements start to take shape. One element of it all that was lacking until recently; cruise line itineraries. They just did not translate well into TripIt or any other organization app until a recent update made the process flawless.
SpeedTest lets cruise travelers check the strength and speed of WiFi signals on cruise ships without logging on to the cruise line system. The beauty of this app comes in two parts. First, just on any given cruise ship, I walk around checking to see where the strongest hotspots are located. Later, when it comes time to check email, download information or upload photos, I know where to go to make that process as efficient as possible on that ship.
Wind And Weather Meter – allows you to take & share weather reports from wherever your ship might be. Capture highly accurate weather data, including wind speed (average, gust and lull), wind direction, air temperature, humidity and pressure. The app also give you values such as wind chill, heat index, apparent wind, crosswind, tailwind, dew point, air density and more. Add a description and instantly share your report via Twitter, Facebook, SMS, email and more.
Marine Traffic lets us follow along as we sail from port to port, anywhere in the world. With the Marine Traffic app we can see other ships, our projected course, ports of call and more. Also a great place to keep track of ships sailed, Marine Traffic allows users to create their own ‘fleets’ of ships and receive position, course and more information about them during sailing and after.
Google Maps is one of those travel apps I have had on my smartphone for quite some time but I did not realize just how accurate it is until driving our car the other day. Basically, Google Maps put the built-in and relatively new GPS navigation system in our car to shame. Far more accurate, Google Maps was the clear winner. That’s compared to the Mapquest app as well. A good practice at a new destination, before leaving the ship and while on the ship WiFi: turn on Google Maps long enough to drop a pin and tag your location. Later, if you get lost, Google Maps can provide directions to get back to the ship. Roaming fees will apply but if you’re lost, you probably won’t care about that.
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