Travel tech: Make your phone work magic when you're abroad

 

Your smartphone remains a crucial travel companion: currency converters with the latest rates, Skype to make calls home, ebook readers to keep you amused. But travel apps offer much more. There are lots of them – 49,000 on the iPhone alone. Here are a few you shouldn't be without.

Electronic boarding passes save you scrabbling for pieces of paper. The British Airways app (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry; free) is one of the best around. It's simple and informative. But now there's a new app which comes built in to the iPhone called Passbook (iPhone, free). It gathers together your store cards, money-off coupons, concert tickets and boarding passes in one place. United and Delta are signed up already and more airlines will join. The neatest thing is that when you get to the airport, the phone's GPS knows this and automatically loads the boarding pass onscreen.

Once abroad, you'll need to find your way around. Apple has just updated its maps software with cute photo-realistic 3D representations of buildings in some central city locations. However, you need a data connection to make it work and overseas roaming costs add up fast. The new version of Nokia Maps, out next month on Nokia's latest Windows Phone handsets, allows you to download country maps in advance and offers turn-by-turn navigation without data.

If you don't speak the lingo where you're going, you'll need help. There are plenty of good apps, but the best is Google Translate (iPhone, Android; free). Again, you'll need to have a data connection for this. Speak into the phone: your words go to Google's servers to be translated into one of 64 languages, then show up as translated text onscreen; most are also relayed as spoken words. A conversation mode means that it knows to listen to the other party in Spanish, say, and translate to English. Slightly magical.

If you're in New York, one of the coolest apps is New York Nearest Subway (iPhone; £1.49). It uses AR (augmented reality), where the view from the phone's camera is supplemented onscreen by extra information. Hold the phone in front of you and colour-coded signs appear to float in the air, pointing to the nearest station. There are now companion apps for lots of cities, including Paris, London, Barcelona, Chicago and Tokyo.

Among apps that provide useful information without data charges are travel guides, including TripAdvisor Offline City Guides (iPhone, Android; free). There are more than 50 cities, with maps, photos, tourist attractions, restaurants and more, plus TripAdvisor reviews. Rather than putting the whole thing on your phone, choose cities to download before you travel.

While you're away, send a postcard home using Touchnote Postcards (iPhone, iPad, Android; free). Take a photo on the phone, choose the recipient's address, write your message and it's done. It'll be delivered on glossy card to an address anywhere in the world. Each postcard costs £1.49 and you can buy credit in advance.

Finally, keep the kids happy with Barefoot World Atlas (iPad, iPhone; £2.99), an interactive 3D globe with clever graphics that illuminate wildlife, landmarks and shipping vessels, along with interesting country stats.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

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

    Sales Manager - Commercial Cable & Wire - UK

    £60,000 - £75,000: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the major Aer...

    ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    Day In a Page

    Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

    Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

    Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities