Twenty best apps to use while on your holidays . . .
Technology Editor Adrian Weckler runs the rule over the apps that will make your break easier to plan and more enjoyable
Published 30/07/2016 | 02:30
When you and your family are travelling, your phone or tablet can be a hugely valuable aid. From guides and games to postcard-makers and language translators, here are 20 of the best apps you should load up on before taking your trip.
Note: almost all of the apps chosen are available for iPhone, iPads, Android phones and Android tablets. Most are also available for Windows phones (such as Nokia) and tablets (such as Surface). And all are free, except for Minecraft and iMovie.
Isn't it a shame we don't send postcards any more? This Irish-made app lets you 'make' and send a postcard with your own phone's photos. Write a few words, type in an addressee and it makes your virtual postcard into a physical one, sending it anywhere in the world for €3.45.
2. Tides Near Me
If your trip will incorporate any water sport, fishing or beach activity, you might need to check local tides. This app gives you high and low tidal ranges of over 4,400 locations around the world in most holiday destinations (including Ireland). It also gives you sunrise and sunset times.
3. Google Translate
If you're trying to navigate your way around a foreign country, this app translates words and phrases for you in a number of ways. Point your phone at a sign or menu and it will change a foreign word or phrase into English. It also supports live conversation translation in 32 languages.
When planning a foreign stay, you're missing out if you don't check Airbnb first. The available range of houses, apartments, cottages and villas is well worth investigating. They're often more conveniently located and better equipped than hotels or other rentals, especially for families.
This Irish-made app is like Airbnb but instead offers hosted accommodation in someone's home. The idea is you get a local's knowledge and insight into wherever you are visiting. There are over 16,000 homes available across 120 countries. You can contact the host ahead of time to make sure they're not crazy.
If you're going to a US city, Uber is an app you must download. It's cheaper, quicker and friendlier than local taxi cabs. You specify your pick-up and destination on your phone and it debits your credit card online. Security is built in and you're encouraged to rate your car and driver (they rate you too!)
7. Kindle app
Are holidays a time to catch up on reading? You don't have to have an actual Kindle to buy and read Kindle books. You can download much of the same content to any tablet and almost any phone (although tablet screens aren't as good in the sunshine as Kindle e-ink screens).
8. Google Photos
We take hundreds of photos on our phones when away. But many handsets are limited to a couple of gigabytes of free memory. Google Photos relieves the pressure by letting you upload an unlimited number of pictures for free. You can then access or download them from any other device.
When you're looking for a restaurant, a pub or a shop on holidays, Google is okay. But Yelp is superb. It generally gives you a more detailed map than Google for whatever establishment you're looking for. It's especially good in the US but is also excellent in most European countries.
Most people now use their phones as their main cameras. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to brighten the pictures up? Snapseed is the best free photo editor out there. It lets you sharpen and colour photos. It also lets you pick bits of photos to edit, instead of the whole thing in one go.
When it starts bucketing down and you're stuck in a caravan or cottage, Netflix can be a lifesaver. The basic €10 subscription (which can be cancelled at any time) lets you use two tablets, phones or laptops. There's mountains of kids' movies too. And it works in almost every country.
For worrywarts, a security cam app (which requires a security camera) is reassuring. Nest is probably the easiest and best system. Once set up, you can instantly check what's going on from your phone. It also immediately saves any movement online, meaning a burglar can't beat it by cutting it off.
13. Minecraft Pocket Edition (€6.99)
If you have kids between the ages of six and 12, there's a high probability that at least one of them is into Minecraft. If so, this is a genuinely worthwhile investment: it is very likely to keep your child happily occupied for good periods of time during tricky periods, such as long flights.
14. Sky Go
Over a third of Irish households have a Sky subscription but many don't know you can access it on your tablet or phone. Log in on the Sky Go app with your account information: you'll get instant access to whatever your subscription covers at home. Note, though, that it won't work abroad.
15. iMovie (€4.99, iPhone and iPad only)
If you're taking short video clips, iMovie is probably the most powerful, user-friendly app out there to stitch together your clips, put a few titles on it and make decent-looking mini-movies out of them. They can then be shared on YouTube or anywhere else. It now works with 4K video clips, too.
16. Yahoo Weather
If you're likely to be checking the weather regularly, Yahoo's Weather app is the best around.
As well as hour-by-hour and 10-day forecasts, it also gives humidity, UV and rain probability indicators. There are also wind indicators as well as local maps to show more detailed forecasts.
If you have no idea what to do upon arriving and are suspicious of mainstream recommendation apps, try Foursquare. It offers you tips on what's good and bad in an area based on your exact location. That could mean that a certain steak is great or that a park is filthy. Worth downloading.
18. Video Editor (Android only)
If you use a Samsung, Sony, HTC or Huawei phone, this is probably the best beginner-friendly video-editing app you can get. It walks you through putting together your own phone's video recordings and lets you pick themes, music (theirs or your own) and even voiceovers. Worth downloading.
19. Google Maps
Forget those expensive travel maps -- Google Maps is really the only map you need. As well as detailed street, park and coastal maps, it gives you turn-by-turn directions if you need to travel somewhere. It even shows you where the traffic is light or heavy on most city or urban roads.
For general tips and advice on the better places to see and more worthwhile things to do, Tripadvisor really can't be beaten. And it's just as useful on location as for when you're planning in advance. While user reviews can be gamed, Tripadvisor's reviews are usually a good guide for accuracy.