Three Cool Travel Apps I Use

Waze Logo

I mentioned in my last blog post “2011 – My Year in Review” that I’d done a lot of travelling and that I’ve been looking at ways to make my travelling more fun.

Therefore I thought I’d share a quick blog post with three apps that I now regularly use when on the road.

Waze

imageAvailable for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Nokia – Waze is a free Community based traffic and navigation App. I initially downloaded Waze because I’m a tight-skate and didn’t want to shell out for one of the traditional paid-for Sat-Nav apps, but now that I’ve got it installed, I love both the concept and execution.

Fundamentally, it’s a free Sat-Nav app. Give it a destination, and it’ll use GPS to give you turn-by-turn instructions on how to get there. In practice, I found it good for short commutes – but frustrating for long-distance journeys. The on-screen display and voice instructions just aren’t as accurate as say, Co-Pilot Live, which is why I went and bought Co-Pilot for those longer journeys.

Waze ScreenshotBut Waze’s secret weapon is that every trip you make feeds back anonymous information on your journey to Waze, who then learn from this feedback to improve all future journeys for all Waze users. I’ve already watched Waze “learn” as I ignore it’s suggested route and instead take a route I know is quicker due to local road conditions, and the next time I take that route Waze adjusts its instructions accordingly.

Waze also gives you the opportunity to submit reports on traffic jams, hazards and road blocks as you travel. Other Waze users in the area are immediately updated to these issues, and can compensate accordingly.

Finally, I the fact that you can spot other Wazers on-screen whilst you are driving and then wave at them out of your car window. At least I hope I’m waving at other Wazers, and not just completely baffled (and probably scared) strangers.

Download Waze for free from http://world.waze.com/

 

EchoEcho

EchoEcho LogoEver out and about, planning to meet up with friends? Queue a series of SMS or ‘phone calls to try to find a mutually convenient location to meet up. Can be a challenge – especially if one of you doesn’t know the area.

EchoEcho is available for all major ‘phone platforms, and Windows Phone (sorry, couldn’t resist…) and allows you to send an “echo” to any of your contacts. If they also have EchoEcho installed, they’ll reply to your Echo with an… Echo… and you’ll be notified of their current location and visa versa. If they don’t have EchoEcho installed, they’ll receive an SMS that asks them to click a link to respond – you’ll then receive their co-ordinates anyway.

The fact that the App works with both users and non-users of the App is a stroke of brilliance, and opens use up well beyond your normal geeky circle of friends.

shot_000003If you’re worried about privacy, then rest assured that EchoEcho only sends your co-ordinates when you respond to a request, and not on an on-going basis. Additionally, although EchoEcho will scan your contacts to automatically find other EchoEcho users, I’ve clarified with the EchoEcho team that it will *not* contact any of your contacts without your permission.

A fantastic application that I now use on a day-to-day basis – at least with those who aren’t scared of revealing their current location with me (and yes, that does mean I’m suspicious of your clandestine movements if you don’t respond to my Echo).

Download EchoEcho for free from http://www.echoecho.me/default.aspx

 

LocalMind

LocalMind LogoLocalMind is an app that allows you to send questions and receive answers about what is going on at certain locations, typically bars, restaurants and the like.

It picks up on your FourSquare, GoWalla and Facebook Places check-ins, and allows other LocalMind users to see the location you’re currently in and send you questions about it.

LocalMind ScreenshotQuestions I’ve received when I’m out and about include “Are the bartenders friendly?” and “Is the pub crowded?”.

I’ve asked questions like “What’s good to eat?” and “Do they have live music on?” when I’ve been exploring myself.

It’s a simple concept, but when you’re out and about, especially in a new town or City, it’s one way of finding out where you should think about exploring. I like the idea a lot!

LocalMind is available for iPhone and Android at http://www.localmind.com/

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Have any travel apps you’re a fan of? Want to connect with me on FourSquare? Do share with me via Twitter or by leaving a comment below!

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