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.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Recruitment Consultant (Trainee), Finchley Central, London

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn