Inside Travel: Apple launches its new travel workshops

So you're going on holiday. What do you pack? Maybe that guide book is looking a bit dog-eared. Perhaps you have a tablet, one of those new, trendy touchscreen computers like the Apple iPad or HTC Flyer. But what can you do with it on holiday? Well, today Apple launches its first travel workshop – and I had an exclusive preview of what it offers.

Apple would like you to think that its iPad can do a better job than a traditional guidebook. After all, electronic updates mean there's no need to wait until the next edition hits the bookshops to find the latest prices, ratings or opening hours.

"Travelling with iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch" workshops start today. They are free and scheduled regularly throughout the summer in all of Apple's 30 UK retail stores, such as the huge one in Covent Garden, London, where I got a taste of things. Along with nine other guinea pigs, I sat at a pale wood table to find out how to use the iPad to enhance trips abroad.

It was a friendly enough affair. Once the Apple workshop trainer had introduced himself, the rest of us did the same, saying what we wanted to get from the session. Don't be worried if your answer, like mine, was: "Don't know".

There then followed an hour of detailed hands-on practical advice, guiding us through what to do, tap by touchscreen tap. Let's be clear, the company may be holding these workshops to keep us locked to the world of Apple, but they're engagingly done. If you find touchscreen computers a little daunting, the workshops are a good place to see you're not alone.

First, there was a section on pre-trip planning, focusing on loading music, videos and applications – apps, as they're more commonly called, if you've been trapped on planet Tharg for the past five years – on to your iPad. The second part dealt with using apps abroad (see below for my pick of the best). The rundown included flight tracking apps, ebooks and guides with augmented reality features.

Augmented Reality is very cool: it's a technology that allows web data to be overlaid on a view of the physical world. So when you hold up your iPad, it shows you the view the camera sees with animated markers that seem to float in the air, showing you exactly where the place of interest is. AR is available on many tablets, but in the world of Apple, only the iPad 2 has a camera.

It quickly became clear that with any app you should always ensure you're in a Wi-Fi area before you download data. If you have a tablet that connects through the mobile phone network, data traffic fees abroad are always exorbitant, so it pays to go easy on interactive services, including AR. Finally, the trainer suggested what to do after we got home – how to transfer images from iPad to computer, and even how to create photo books – an option provided by several companies.

There are, of course, other options – HTC's gorgeous 7-inch tablet, the Flyer, or the 7-inch PlayBook for BlackBerry fans – and many have apps that are just as good as the iPad's. In some cases, like Google Maps on Android tablets, they are arguably better. For range though, none comes close to the iPad. Apple has 100,000 dedicated iPad apps, and another 425,000 iPhone and iPod touch apps, most of which work on the large screen though without the graphical beauty of the optimised apps.

Taking a tablet on holiday is simpler than handling your laptop and a bunch of novels. But bear in mind that if you're prone to dropping things in the sea, it's cheaper to replace a John Grisham paperback than an electronic device. And paper doesn't need batteries. Maybe your trip abroad is designed to be email-free. Nevertheless, a tablet in your hand luggage gives you lots of interactive possibilities that books don't, even if you only end up using it for Angry Birds.

Travel Workshops start from today at Apple stores. For more information, see www.apple.com/uk or the Apple Store app on iPhone and iPad.

Appy holidays: Great travel downloads

Before you travel

* Flight Track Pro (iPad, £5.99; Android, £6.11)

Tracks flight times, delays, gate details and has handy plane maps to help choose your seat.

* TripAdvisor Hotels, Flights, Restaurants (iPad, free)

Shows hotels, restaurants and more so you can plan where to go even before you arrive at your destination. When you're there, the app has Augmented Reality built in.

* iBooks (iPad, iPhone, free)

Lets you read books on an iPad or iPhone. Other tablets have ebook reader apps which let you take scores of books with no added weight. Tablets are bad for reading in the sunshine, though (apart from the Amazon Kindle).

* iCurrency (iPad, 59p)

Shows live exchange rates for when you're in a shop trying to convert the price back into sterling. Android users can choose "Currency", which is free; those with BlackBerry PlayBook can try "Currency Gizmo", also free, which handily shows the cost of commission rates too.

While you're away

* Maps (iPad, 59p)

This app can guide you effectively but uses data to work. So take screenshots of the map and use these. Even though the iPad 3G has GPS built in, the maps themselves are downloaded via cellular data, so if this is switched off (as it should be when you're abroad), you'll see exactly where you are but on a blank grey screen.

Instead, load the map in a Wi-Fi area and take a screenshot of it (this is simple on the iPad and explained in the workshops) so you have a map available wherever you are (though the image is not interactive). Android phones have a different solution using "Google Maps" which is more complicated, but more interactive. Nokia smartphone users and HTC owners have the best deal; their maps are available to download in advance, for free, and work with data switched off.

* Weather+ (iPad, free)

Tells you what to expect in terms of sunshine. HTC's Flyer has an outstanding built-in weather app and the PlayBook also has a weather app installed.

* Virtual History Roma (iPad, £5.99)

A great example of something only a tablet can do. Ancient Rome is reconstructed in virtual form, above, in an immersive and deeply impressive way.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing