Travel apps: The best travel apps to help you before and during your holiday

If you’re off on a big holiday, chances are you’ll take your smartphone. The computer you can carry anywhere is a window to a world of thousands of apps, and there’s a shedload that claim they will make your trip better. Few actually can, so we’ve gone to the trouble of finding the best travel apps out there.

These are some of the best travel apps out there, and with a decent roaming package from your operator or a decent hotel Wi-Fi connection, these apps will help you plan your trip, find the best mojito in town or get you out of sticky travel situations.

Come June 2017, EU roaming charges will be abolished, and to celebrate we will all go on a Euro holiday and stream Game of Thrones on our smartphones before calling mum back home whilst sending a thousand Snapchats, but until then, make sure to watch your bill.

We’ve broken down the 14 best travel apps into sections, so click below to just straight to a particular one:

  • Pre-trip planning
  • Getting around
  • Food & drink
  • Language
  • Money

Pre-trip planning

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Best travel apps: Kayak

Free
Kayak for Android
Kayak for iOS

The Kayak app is a bit of an all-rounder when it comes to holiday planning. You’ll be able to use it to find and book hotels, flights and cars, and also track flights and manage your trip agenda. There’s also a price alerts feature that’ll help you get the best deal on the holiday you’re hoping to go on, as well as a packing list to ensure you don’t forget anything.

It’s got a really smart, intuitive interface too, so getting the information you need is quick and easy. For example, once you’ve chosen your city and holiday dates, Kayak’s search engine will bring up a long list of available hotels, clearly showing a photo, the hotel’s rating and the price it’ll cost you for each hotel so you can skip right past the horrible or expensive ones.

TripAdvisor

Free
TripAdvisor for Android
TripAdvisor for iOS

One of the most popular apps to use while planning your holiday is TripAdvisor, the main benefit being the huge number of hotel reviews that have been written by holidaymakers themselves. You can make your decision about pretty much any hotel you’re interested in based on the reviews left on TripAdvisor, which will tell you about everything from the food and the cleanliness of the rooms to the service and location.

Even if you don’t book your hotel through TripAdvisor, it’s well worth checking the reviews before you make your decision about where you want to stay.

TripAdvisor also lets you find and book flights.

Best travel apps: Booking.com

Free
Booking.com for Android
Booking.com for iOS

Another great app for booking hotels is Booking.com, especially if you’re looking to book it last minute or if you’re one of those brave people who waits until they arrive to book somewhere. There’s a feature that helps you find available hotels nearby, and it works in more than 64,000 destinations around the world. Plus, as well as showing available hotels, Booking.com also includes villas and apartments.

Like TripAdvisor, Booking.com features reviews of each hotel from people who’ve been there, and you can use the app to go through the entire booking process.

Best travel apps: Expedia

Free
Expedia for Android
Expedia for iOS

For booking both hotels and flights, Expedia is a good app. It’s nicely designed (though sometimes there’s a little too much information to take in at once) and it offers some exclusive deals that might be right up your (holiday) street.

As with TripAdvisor and Booking.com, Expedia has reviews from real customers, and lets you book everything straight from the app.

Best travel apps: Hotels.com

Free
Hotels.com for Android
Hotels.com for iOS

Another hotel discovery and booking app is Hotels.com, which has recently had a rather nice redesign. Just like TripAdvisor, Booking.com and Expedia, Hotels.com helps you find good hotels in the area you’re planning to travel to, and has helpful filters to weed out the hotels that won’t work for you.

There’s also a map feature for nearby hotels, which you can book straight from the app.

Really, which of these four similar apps you use is down to your personal preference. They’re all free, so it’s worth giving them a try until you find the one you like best.

Best travel apps: Triposo

Free
Triposo for Android
Triposo for iOS

Apps from developer Triposo can help you plan your visit to pretty much any country in the world. You can’t use this app to book hotels or flights, but you can use it to help you find out what’s nearby to your chosen destination, so you can plan the activities you’ll get up to while you’re there.

For example, if you’re planning to travel to Italy, you can download Triposo’s Italy Travel Guide (it’s free) to find out what there is to do in the city you’re going to, such as Rome, Florence or Venice. You’ll find maps with highlighted attractions, restaurants, bars, supermarkets and photo opportunities, as well as information such as directions, reviews and contact details for restaurants, museums and more. These guides, handily, can also be viewed offline.

Other handy features include a phrasebook and currency converter.

There’s also a Triposo app that encompasses the entire world, so if you’ve not yet made up your mind about where you’re heading, this might be a better option for you.

Best travel apps: Skyscanner

Free
Skyscanner for Android
Skyscanner for iOS

This one is just for flights, but it sure helps if you’re trying to find the best deal. It’s free to download, though you will spot some ads unless you’re willing to cough up the £1.49 in-app purchase to remove them.

Using Skyscanner, you can search flights from hundreds of airlines around the world to find the cheapest and best ones. Definitely worth a check before you book your flight.

Best travel apps: TripCase

Free
TripCase for Android
TripCase for iOS

This is a rather nice app for both planning your holiday and helping you out when you get there. You’d use it once you’ve already booked your accommodation and flights, as you can enter all of your trip details into TripCase to keep them all in one place and find out if anything has changed (if your flight has been delayed, for example).

In addition to hotel reservations, flights and other transport, you can also add details of trips you plan to make, attractions you’ve booked and restaurants you’d like to eat at. Sharing the itinerary with others who’re coming on your trip with you, or even with those you’re leaving behind at home, can come in useful to keep everyone in the loop.

Plus, there’s a 10-day weather forecast including so you’ll know what to pack and you can rearrange your plans to avoid the rain.

Getting around

Best travel apps: CityMapper

Free
CityMapper for Android
CityMapper for iOS

Currently available in 31 cities worldwide, CityMapper is an excellent app for navigating public transport and walking directions. As long as you’re set up with a good roaming plan so you don’t get charged the earth, it’ll get you from A to B (or from the club to your bed) with excellent step by step instructions based on your current location. It’s a potential lifesaver in a foreign city.

Best travel apps: Google Maps

Free
Google Maps for Android
Google Maps for iOS

The king of map apps remains Google’s offering. We’ve found that day in, day out it offers the most reliable routes while remaining very intuitive and easy to use. A plethora of options, from bus-only routes to an optimised in-car GPS mode make this ridiculously good for a free app.

Perhaps one its still best kept secrets is offline mode – if you’re abroad and haven’t got a data package, you can find where you’re going for the day on your hotel Wi-Fi and save that map for offline use. Google claims the biggest download size for an offline area is 120,000 square kilometres, so we think you’ll be fine for a day or two!

You lose GPS navigation, but carrying around a section of unfamiliar city in your pocket in traditional map form is incredibly handy.

Food & drink

Best travel apps: Untappd

Free
Untappd for Android
Untappd for iOS

An app for beer lovers the world over, Untappd lets you create your own profile and then discover the best beer in town. You can check in at various watering holes and post opinions on local tipples and talk to others who have been to the same places.

For travelling it’s great, as you can search for popular pubs or simply those closest to you, and hopefully get an idea of what’s on tap there. You can also search for individual beers to see where they are being served near to you – very handy in a city you’re new to.

Best travel apps: OpenTable

Free
OpenTable for Android
OpenTable for iOS

OpenTable is a great research and booking app for restaurants while you’re away in the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Germany, Australia and Japan. You can search by location, cuisine, price and more and book tables instantly – great in unfamiliar cities when most places are bound to have a user generated review too, meaning nights out when away just got a whole lot easier.

You can even send booking invitations to friends and add booking to your phone’s calendar, meaning OpenTable is one of the best integrated apps on offer.

Language

Best travel apps: Google Translate

Free
Google Translate for Android
Google Translate for iOS

We love this app. It is as intuitive and versatile as you’d expect from a Google-made app and has some excellent features, from fun to downright practical.

You can set the written language and the language to translate into, which then displays on the screen after you type it in, and you can even make it full screen to read easier or show to a (likely unimpressed, but oh well) local.

Even more useful, particularly for menu reading, is the auto-translate option via your smartphone’s camera. Turn it on and hold your phone up to a foreign language sign, and the app translates each individual word for a quick and easy rough translation. Helpful if you don’t want to accidentally order the pig’s tongue.

Money

Best travel apps: XE Currency

Free
XE Currency for Android
XE Currency for iOS

For the money conscious traveller (which really should be all of us) this is a standard meat and potatoes currency converter. It’s worth using instead of a pre-installed smartphone function as it is updated with live rates and has around 180 currencies listed, and it’ll help you check whether the rickety shed you’re getting your new currency from because you didn’t do it at the Post Office before you travelled is really ripping you off or not.

It also has a simple conversion calculator for when you cant resist the allure of a duty-free iPad. This will help you check if the saving is truly worth it.

 

[Source:- PCadvisor]

Best VR web browser: how to browse the internet in virtual reality

Best VR web browser: how to browse the internet in virtual reality

Samsung Gear VR

After years of trials, tribulations and terrible failures, VR is finally becoming a reality. Whether you are eying up an Oculus Rift or getting the vibes for HTC’s Vive, it’s not just the inevitable avalanche of VR games and video content that are suitable for virtual reality viewing – now you can browse the 2D web in 3D, too.

For those after that total immersive experience, we’ve rounded up the best VR web browsing options currently available.

 

[Source:- Techrader]

Opera bakes ad-blocking into its desktop browser (and mobile, soon)

Opera bakes ad-blocking into its desktop browser (and mobile, soon)

Opera has made the move to introduce built-in ad-blocking to its desktop browser, with the feature incorporated into the developer version of the browser as of today.

The company notes that it’s the first major web browser to have ad-blocking baked in, and is pushing the idea that an integrated system is best (as opposed to a third-party extension) in terms of eking out extra performance and faster browsing.

The system is even proactive, in that the browser will suggest that the feature be turned on when adverts that could be blocked are encountered, asking the user: “Would you like to block ads and surf the web faster?” You can then elect to block ads, or refuse the offer.

Flipside of the equation

Of course, the flipside of blocking adverts is the potential impact on the economics of the web and free content online in general. Some businesses and websites rely on advertising to make their money, and would go under without that revenue.

Krystian Kolondra, SVP of Engineering and Head of Opera, acknowledges this point, commenting: “Advertising fuels the internet, allowing for many services to be free for users.”

He then adds that Opera is going after bloated web pages, stating: “But, as our new research shows, most webpages today are significantly slowed down by bloated ads and heavy tracking. We don’t accept it – we want the web to be a better place for us all, as users.”

Opera claims that its ad-blocking tech can speed up web page loading times by up to 90%, and is 40% faster on average compared to a third-party advert blocking extension, the latter being possible because the filtering occurs at the web-engine level.

The new system also allows users to benchmark web page load times themselves, and there’s also an exception list so even if you turn ad-blocking on, you can disable the blocking on specific sites.

While this announcement is about the desktop browser, we asked Opera whether this capability was destined for the company’s mobile software as well, and received the response: “Yes, we expect this technology to come soon to Opera’s mobile browsers.”

So there you have it – Opera is planning this one across the board.

 

[Source:- Techradar]

Microsoft ends work on ‘Fable Legends’ video game

People walk past the Xbox section at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, an annual video game conference at the Los Angeles Conve

People walk past the Xbox section at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, an annual video game conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 16, 2015

Microsoft on Monday announced it has stopped work on the long-delayed “Fable Legends” action video game and is mulling the closure of the British-based studio that was handling the project.

Microsoft decided to cancel “Fable Legends” and is talking to employees about potentially closing Lionhead Studios in Britain, Microsoft Studios Europe general manager Hanno Lemke said in a blog post.

The US software colossus behind Xbox video game consoles also disclosed plans to close Press Play Studios in Denmark as part of its retreat in the gaming space.

“These have been tough decisions and we have not made them lightly, nor are they a reflection on these development teams,” Lemke said.

“I speak for all of Xbox when I say that despite this news, we remain committed to the development communities in the UK and Europe.”

The changes are part of a focus by Microsoft Studios on games and franchises “that fans find most exciting and want to play,” according to Lemke.

He said Microsoft planned to help employees from the closing studios find new positions at Xbox or elsewhere in the games industry.

Lionhead, known for the popular game “Fable,” was founded in Britain in 1996 and bought by Microsoft a decade later. Lionhead founder and industry icon Peter Molyneux left the company about four years ago to embark on a new endeavor.

[Source:- Phys.org]

Digital Darwin answers questions on new app

People have wanted to ask questions of Charles Darwin ever since “On the Origin of Species” was published in 1859.

Now, 157 years later, you have a chance to speak with the famous 19th century biologist, with one caveat: It’s a theatrical version of the man who first described evolutionary biology.

The Charles Darwin Synthetic Interview exhibit, formerly stationed at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, John Pollock, the Duquesne University biology professor who created the exhibit, has had it transformed into an app.

The app by the same name represents a full version of the popular exhibit that fielded 126,000 questions in just its first months at the science center, where it remained for about six years.

The app and exhibit feature actor Randy Kovitz – who starred in “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Dawn of the Dead” and “Concussion” – as Darwin. He is dressed as the English scientist and answers 199 questions about his explorations, his childhood and family and the scientific principle of evolution, which continues to spur spirited discussion.

A mirror behind the synthetic Darwin provides commentary from religious, philosophical and scientific experts about the man and his science.

The full app casts $9.99 for the full 4 { hours of content, with a free version available in which Darwin answers 24 of the most popular questions asked at the science center. The most popular was, “Where were you born?” The answer is Shrewsbury, England.

The app can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore, Pollock said.

The app earned a Parents’ Choice award as a “fascinating and bordering on eerie (but in a good way)” presentation that “lets viewers select questions to ask the pioneering scientist, including his thoughts about “the public response to his discovery.”

“The app will best serve classrooms, libraries and all those fascinated by the life, explorations and contributions of Charles Darwin,” the Parents’ Choice publication says.

“John’s strength is that he’s a detailed science guy with a visual sense and a good way to convey science to the public,” said Dennis Bateman, the science center director of exhibits. “I think it added a great layer of depth to the exhibit and the conversational approach was the kind of thing we were looking for to reach the average visitor.”

Pollock, who holds a Ph.D. in biophysics, said the project uses synthetic interview technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University. The questions were based on a survey of 1,000 people in Pittsburgh about what they would ask Darwin if they could. About half didn’t even know who he was.

David Lampe, a Duquesne biologist, helped script the synthetic Darwin’s answers to 199 key questions, based on Darwin’s journal entries and writings. The project received funding through the National Institutes of Health and the Templeton Foundation. It was incorporated into the Pittsburgh Public Schools curriculum in 2009.

“My main goal is getting good information to people and getting them thinking,” Pollock said.

[Source:- Phys.org]