Sunday, May 16, 2010;
The world of travel apps is expanding exponentially, covering nearly every aspect of a trip. Here are the 15 apps (and cost per use) I consulted most during my trip:
Maps (free) -- Comes preloaded on all iPhones. Locates destinations and provides walking and driving directions. This was the one app I used most, and it led me to the wrong place only once.
Cheap Gas! (free) -- Finds the cheapest gas stations nearby. It would be even better if it were incorporated into driving directions so that it listed stations on your route, not just in your vicinity.
Priceline Negotiator (free) -- Displays prices and user-generated reviews for hotels. Though many other apps also list hotels, this is the only one that allows you to name your own price and bid for hotel rooms.
ATM Hunter (free) -- Finds nearby ATMs. Though not comprehensive, it's very good.
Pennsylvania ($1.99) -- Offers general travel information for Pennsylvania. It's not a perfect app; its links rarely worked, and many of its listings lacked phone numbers.
Sit or Squat (free) -- Finds the nearest public toilets.
Travel Channel Go (free) -- Finds the nearest bars, restaurants, museums, parks, monuments, shopping venues and sights.
iWant (free) -- Finds many of the same things that Travel Channel Go does, but adds banks, hospitals, pharmacies, parking, libraries, car washes, police stations, laundromats and other practical resources.
Urbanspoon (free) -- Finds nearby restaurants and provides reviews. Good if you want to find something close, but it doesn't necessarily list must-visit restaurants in a given city.
Events Finder (free) -- Finds events and concerts.
RouteShout (free) -- Finds the nearest bus stops and provides information on bus routes in Pittsburgh. This was a confusing app for a Pittsburgh visitor, as the bus routes were fairly complicated.
HearPlanet Lite (free) -- Geotags Wikipedia and Wikitravel articles. Using the iPhone's GPS, it locates nearby sights and reads the articles out loud, turning your phone into a talking tour guide. A livelier voice could improve it.
EveryTrail (free) -- Records your route, speed and elevation using the iPhone's GPS and incorporates the photos you take into your route. You can then share your trip with relatives and friends and view trips taken by others.
Foursquare (free) -- A mobile game in which people check in at specific locations and receive points according to the number of places they visit. More points are awarded to those who leave tips about each place, which results in all sorts of quirky, location-specific, user-generated advice about what to see and what to eat.
Am I Safe? (99 cents) -- Provides crime statistics about your location and characterizes the area as either safe or unsafe.
Here are five more apps that I'd recommend for trips farther afield:
HopStop (free) -- Provides bus, subway and walking directions for those looking to get from point A to point B without a car. It works in 10 cities, including Washington.
iTranslate (free) -- Translates between more than 50 languages and can voice the translations out loud.
Tripdeck ($9.99) -- Manages flight itineraries as well as hotel, car rental and cruise reservations. It also warns you of upcoming flight delays and cancellations.
NileGuide What's Next ($2.99) -- Aggregates travel guide content for 200 destinations worldwide. Most significantly, it lets you pick and choose the sights you wish to visit, then compiles those destinations onto one personalized map.