Smartphones have changed the way we do almost everything. We start and end each day with them propped-up on our stomachs while we lie in bed, and they are never that far from our hands for the remainder of the day.
One of the most direct benefits of having a smartphone is the availability of information on a moment’s notice (whether personal information or new information you may need), and that is critical in one context:
When you’re on the move!
Given that, let’s take a look at the six best travel apps for iOS and the iPhone right now.
It would be hard to find someone who isn’t familiar with Skype, and you can hardly go wrong with free, so this is definitely a must-have. When you are connected to WiFi, which is increasingly available throughout the world, Skype-to-Skype connections are free and Skype-to-cell/landline connections are cheap. In addition to voice, Skype allows you to communicate with text, video, photos and even emojis if that’s how you’re feeling at the time.
In addition to single connections, Skype can also make group chats easy by integrating the service into the main interface. Given that a large number of people are already familiar with Skype, this feature takes on even more importance. It also puts Skype in direct competition with platforms like WhatsApp, which has been less than reliable at times.
On deck is CityMapper, which is an excellent A-to-B travel app that will help you get from place to place with only the device in your hands. It has an ever-growing list of cities and countries under its belt, and is one of the best tools to help you utilize public transportation when you’re out and about. You’ll find real-time departure timetables and information on delays, transit maps, and CityMapper even connects with a few ride-sharing services.
As an extra incentive, CityMapper also gives information on bike routing and bike-sharing services as well, so it can handle your slow-speed travel needs as well.
Airbnb is a household name, and deservedly so. Whether its as a benefit to travelers or to potential hosts, Airbnb has changed the paradigm for people looking for short-term stays in different cities or countries. When you’re abroad and looking for places to stay, Airbnb undercuts hotels by offering far cheaper prices, and typically a more authentic experience because you’ll be staying with someone in their home. That has both positives and negatives, but is a sea-change for travelers regardless.
As an added incentive, AirBnB recently added a feature called Trips, which offers curated events you can partake in with local guides. With this expansion Airbnb is starting their push to become a complete travel solution. Keep and eye out.
If you’re traveling for business, Expensify will be a game-changer. Expensify makes it easy to create an expense report and start adding receipts while you’re on the move. Whether you type in the information or take a picture with your phone’s camera, the information is automatically scanned into an easy-to-read report that is ready to pass along for reimbursement.
For anyone that has dealt with a messy stack of receipts to try and get travel reimbursements, Expensify will become a frequently used app for you.
Some were initially skeptical about whether travelers would want to delay making hotel reservations to the last minute, but the huge success of HotelTonight has proven that concern was unfounded. Whether it’s because of a great comfort level with the risk, or if people just enjoy getting great deals (spoiler-alert, it’s probably the great deals), HotelTonight has had great success getting consumers to buy into their business concept: providing them a great deal on hotel rooms that haven’t been sold for either same or next day rates. It seems to work for everyone!
The upshot is that consumers get great deals, hotels fill their empty rooms, searches for rooms can be done by city/attraction/distance/etc. and booking can be done right there in the app! It combines convenience with value, and that is a really hard combination to beat.
Google doesn’t do much small, but Google Translate is especially exciting. It provides text translations between 103 different languages online, and 52 languages offline. The sheer size of that is really amazing, and is a real testament to the amount of work Google has put into the app. It’s a great tool for travelers.
In addition to typing translations, Google Translate provides instant camera translations, a Conversation Mode that gives two-way instant speech translation in 32 languages and a handwriting translator useful in 93 languages. It’s a goldmine.
The ubiquity of the smartphone has made it a powerful tool in the hands of travelers, and now there are so many apps to make travel easier, more fun and more economical. We think these are the best travel apps for iOS. Feel free to share your own favorites and your experiences in the comments!