From translating foreign signage to making your data plan go further, here are ten essential apps for business travelers
Translate foreign signage, make data plans go further, and more with these essential apps for business travelers
When Steve Jobs delivered his keynote speech to introduce the Apple App Store back in 2008, developers relished the possibility of having their work “published” and available to download by the public. However, nobody – perhaps even Jobs himself – could have realized what a lucrative game changer had just been unleashed on the world.
Fast-forward five years, and the App Store has recently celebrated its 60 billionth app download. Other competitors have met eq equal success with Google Play reporting 40 billion apps downloaded. Indeed, the app industry is booming, with global revenue from mobile apps hitting $25 billion last year, according to US info information technology research firm Gartner Inc. The transition to a lifestyle where everybody is constantly on the move has acc accentuated the functional importance of mob mobile apps, and recent research conducted by Google’s “Our Mobile Planet” study finds that the average smartphone user has installed 26 apps. Business travelers in particular benefit greatly from the use of apps, with many of these applications offering features designed to make travel smarter, from finding a free WiFi spot nearby to compressing data to increase the power of your mobile phone data plan. Below are our picks of the best apps for business travelers.
1. XE Currency
COST Free (paid version available for $1.99)
PLATFORM iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry
INFO One of the most popular apps globally, this currency converter tool offers live and accurate exchange rates of world currencies.
While the basic app is free, there is also a paid version called XE Currency Pro. Available solely for the Android and iOS platforms, ‘Pro’ does not feature any annoying advertisements, and enables users to monitor up to 20 different currencies. The free version has a limit of only 10 currencies.
PLATFORM iOS, Android INFO FlightStats accesses worldwide flight status by flight number, airport or route. The app allows you to scan information like departure and arrival times, delay indexes, gates and weather.You can check your flight timeline to see all the activities surrounding your flight, and track flights worldwide on zoomable maps.
FlightStats also offers push alerts to members, including flight status confirmation, delays and cancellation updates, and arrival notifications. AirportZoom is another FlightStats app, available for iPads, includes flight status information plus interactive terminal maps and airport services and amenities.
3. WiFi Finder
PLATFORM iOS, Android INFO Overseas data charges can be truly painful, and using free public WiFi keeps costs down. WiFi Finder delivers locations for more than 550,000 WiFi hotspots across 144 countries worldwide.
A nifty added bonus is that users can download an offline database of all the public WiFi hotspots prior to going overseas, meaning that they don’t need to have an internet connection when using the app during their travels.
It should be noted that not all the WiFi hotspots listed on the app are free. Developers JiWire Inc have however created an iOS app, “Free W-Fi Finder”, which lists more than 145,000 free WiFi locations worldwide. This app is also free.
4. Help Call
PLATFORM iOS INFO This useful little app enables users to contact emergency services at the touch of a button. With support for 126 countries, the app contains up-to-date contacts for the police, fire department and ambulance services. Your location is automatically detected, so don’t worry that you’ll be calling the Bangkok police from Singapore.
In addition, you can also select a friend or relative to be your emergency contact.
Just touch the “friend” panel and the app will automatically place a call to the individual chosen.
5. Travel App Box
PLATFORM iOS INFO Dubbed “the Swiss army knife of travel apps,” Travel App Box features an integrated currency converter, flight status tool, phrase dictionary for five languages, and offline street and public transport maps among other features.
Our favourite feature, however, is the “emergency hotline” function attached to the app, which contains emergency numbers for the police, fire service and doctors in 146 countries. Now, that’s what we call being responsible and prepared for any situation.
6. Onavo Extend
PLATFORM iOS, Android INFO Considering the rise in data browsing on mobile devices, along with the ever-increasing speeds provided by 3G and 4G LTE services, an increasing number of users are aggressively eating into their monthly data plan.
By compressing your mobile data, Onavo Extend claims it can “increase the power of [your] data plan by up to 500 per cent.” While this is a bold claim, my test of the app resulted in a data saving of more than 100MB. Given that my monthly data allowance is 1GB, 100MB (10 percent) delivers cost savings and welcome relief from data-overrun anxiety. The app also equips users with monthly data reports so you can understand and plan data consumption.
7. Open Table
PLATFORM iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone
INFO Open Table hosts a network that connects users with more than 30,000 restaurants worldwide via its website and mobile devices.
The app itself is easy to use. Search for restaurants based on availability, location, date, time or party size and get results either map-based or list-based. Reservations can be made with a tap, and restaurant menus, profiles and reviews are readily accessible.
The app also gives you access to Open Table’s Dining Reward Points program that allows members to earn awards redeemable for OpenTable Dining Cheques, for use at any member restaurant.
COST Free PLATFORM iOS, Android, Windows Phone
INFO With millions of reviews and opinions online, this portal features worthy content contributed by in-the-know travelers globally.
Similar to travel search engines such as Expedia and Zuji, Tripadvisor enables users to search for competitive airfares, hotels or packages available. However, the differentiating factor is the personalized experience that it offers you.
Capable of integrating directly into Facebook, Tripadvisor allows users to create their own travel map that indicates the places they have previously visited. In addition, being able to share your opinions and write reviews through the app gives you the sense of being a part of the travel community.
PLATFORM iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry
INFO Viator has about 10,000 pre-vetted tours and activities in its catalog, meaning you can research, find and book travel experiences worldwide. The app puts the choice of destinations at your fingertips. Browsing is easy with photos and interactive maps to pinpoint your location and find local attractions near you.
Booking can be done directly from your phone whether you’re planning far in advance or already on the road, even the same day. After booking, you can access the paperless voucher from the app, or iPhone users can add it directly to iPhone Passbook.
10. Word Lens
COST Free but language packs cost $4.99 each
PLATFORM iOS, Android INFO Using the in-built camera on any iOS or Android device, the app detects foreign words and automatically translate them to English, or vice versa.
With English as the standard language, the app supports the translation of six different foreign languages: French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Russian and German.
How effective or accurate is the app? Simple phrases and signage (which is what the app is designed for) are usually translated understandably by the app. Translating the entire page of a book, however, will simply be too much for it to handle. Perfect for travelers who wish to negotiate their way around a foreign city without fumbling for the phrase book. BT