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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
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
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

    Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee