Appsolutely Fab­u­lous

From trans­lat­ing for­eign sig­nage to mak­ing your data plan go fur­ther, here are ten es­sen­tial apps for busi­ness trav­el­ers

Business Traveler (USA) - - NEWS - By Cle­ment Huang

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.

2. FlightS­tats

COST Free

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

COST Free

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

COST $2.99

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

COST $1.99

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

COST Free

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

COST Free

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.

8. Tripad­vi­sor

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.

9. Vi­a­tor

COST Free

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

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