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A light touch and youre away

TIME : 2016/2/27 11:09:41

A good smartphone app can be a traveller's best friend. Francisca Kellett looks at some of the most useful.

SMARTPHONES have been to the noughties what the internet was to the nineties - nothing short of revolutionary. If you don't already have one, you soon will. And with a smartphone comes innovative add-ons - apps, or applications.

Ten billion apps have been downloaded in the past three years. There are 17,000 travel apps on the market and 160 million app-compatible devices are owned worldwide - iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys and tablet devices such as the iPad.

There are apps that can make our holidays a little easier, others that are just a bit of fun and many that are thoroughly pointless. The best let you do anything you can do online or with a guidebook but more quickly and easily and while you're on the move - with maps and GPS to tell you where you are.

You can search for flights, book a hotel, see the exact location of your accommodation - even talk into a phone and let the app translate your words instantly.

Here are some of the best travel apps on the market. Many are free to download. Otherwise, the iPhone apps range in price from about $2 to $11. However, beware roaming charges as you connect overseas.

Planning and booking

Google Earth

Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPod Touch, Nokia. Free.

This brilliant app lets users "fly" to their holiday location for a bird's-eye view of where they will be staying, or they can simply use it as an armchair tool to explore the world.

Berlitz Cruise Guide

iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad.

An attractive and comprehensive guide to cruise ships, with Douglas Ward's straight-talking reviews and a useful sorting of vessels by size and suitability.


Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Windows Mobile. Free.

One of the first searching apps and still probably the best, with clear and quick flight, hotel and car hire results and links that allow for booking.


Android, iPhone/iPod touch and BlackBerry. Free.

A handy all-in-one app that collates all of your holiday and flight confirmation emails into one travel itinerary.

On the road

Wikitude Android

iPhone/iPod touch. Free.

One of the best "augmented-reality" apps available, which lets you point your phone's camera at your surroundings and then annotates the screen with notes on local accommodation, restaurants and sites.

Google Sky Map

Android, iPhone/iPod Touch. Free.

For a bit of fun when you're away; simply point your phone at the night sky and it will show the planets and other celestial objects.

Off Exploring

iPhone/iPod Touch. Free.

This lets you quickly and easily type up a blog, add a location and photographs and post your latest pictures on the web for friends and family to see.

Destination guides

Cool Places

iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad; an Android version is launching soon.

Slick, user-friendly guides to British destinations covering more than 30 towns and cities. The brainchild of Mark Ellingham, the founder of Rough Guides, they offer an excellent selection of expert-picked highlights in easy-to-digest nuggets, with lots of attractive photographs. There is a useful map, too.

Conde Nast Traveller City Guides

iPhone/iPod Touch.

Bright and stylish guides split each city into districts with colour-coded reviews and a clever to-do list tool but the app is slightly let down by its clunky filters. Current guides include New York, Rome, Barcelona and Paris.

Time Out

iPhone/iPod Touch; an Android version is launching later this year.

This London guide is a condensed version of the magazine with listings, reviews and useful sharing and rating tools. The rest of the guides cover everything from hotels and restaurants to tips for families, all with good map filters, "editor's picks" and by-area listings.

Lonely Planet

Android, iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, Nokia.

The best breadth of content, with 125 easy-to-use city guides and phrasebooks for iPhones and 25 "Compass Guides", augmented-reality apps for Android, plus five e-books for the iPad.


iPhone/iPod Touch; an Android version launches this year.

Footprints has gone for a more exotic spread: 51 destinations, including Havana, Hanoi and La Paz, as well as more popular cities such as Cape Town. It has clear, simple listings along with attractive photography.

Armchair travel

Insight Guides Travel Photo

iPhone/iPod Touch. Free.

Inspiring images, updated daily, with captions and short travel tips.

Rough Guides World Lens

iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch. Free.

Seemingly random but attractive selection of travel images, with descriptions and click-through to the website for more information.

UNESCO World Heritage

iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad.

A simple list, by country or classification, of UNESCO heritage sites. Not the most inspiring design, but good for UNESCO geeks.

Currency exchange

XE Currency

Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPod Touch. Free.

A simple, live currency converter that lets the user choose currencies for comparison.

Thomas Cook What's The Rate?

Android, iPhone/iPod Touch. Free.

An easy-to-use converter with simplified charts and pleasant, clean design.



iPhone/iPod Touch.

These self-styled "revolutionary" language-learning apps, which are 70-minute audio lessons, use mesmerising music and repetition to get your brain to remember key words and phrases and are weirdly effective.

Lonely Planet Audio Phrasebooks

Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPod Touch, Nokia, Windows Mobile.

Easy-to-use, comprehensive phrasebooks with more than 600 spoken and phonetically written phrases for each guide, organised into subsections.

Google Translate

iPhone/iPod Touch, Android. Free.

Type or speak into your phone and let it instantly translate into 15 languages (with mixed success if you don't speak clearly).

- The Telegraph, London