WD My Net N900 Central Dual-Band HD Router

Western Digital is well-known for their hard drives (HDD). In fact, I\’m using one in my PC now and I have more for back-ups. Apart from hard drives, Western Digital is also known for making WD TV media player. To expand their offerings, Western Digital started selling My Net series routers by mid-2012.

\"Western

If you are  following the hard disk industry, there are only 3 real players in the HDD market now – Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba. The rest of the other players either sold their business to these three or focused on a new market such as solid-state drives (SSD).

As more and more people connect their devices at home, Western Digital supplies network and storage demands for connected homes. Packaging router and storage solution seems to be the ideal offering aimed to enhance consumer experience.

WD My Net Router Comparison

The first 4 models of My Net series have been around since Q3 2012. How do they compare to each other?

The comparison of these Western Digital My Net wi-fi routers can be found at the back of WD My Net router boxes. Take a look and it should be clear how they stack against each other

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To put it into words My Net N600 and My Net N750 are entry-level dual-band routers meant for people with smaller multimedia and file sharing appetite while My Net N900 is basically the  flagship model My Net N900 Central without the internal storage features.

I\’m going to focus on WD My Net 900 Central in this product overview. After all, it is the flagship model next to AC1300 which supports 802.11ac . The 5th generation Wi-fi (aka 802.11ac) is relatively new so there are few devices that currently support it anyway.

WD My Net N900 Central

Western Digital market their router line-up as HD Dual-Band routers. They put HD on the product name to emphasize that it supports high-definition streaming and it really matches your HD TV. Is it made possible by the dual-band speed of 450 mbps on 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz channel, hence the N900 name.

WD My Net N900 Central ships with 1T or 2T 2.5\” HDD depending on the model. Unfortunately there is no easy way to upgrade the storage that comes with it because it is not meant to be replaceable. If you want to upgrade in the future, you might need to settle for My Net N900 which is essentially the same, only without the hard drive, but can be partnered with NAS to make your own network data storage or personal cloud solution.

What\’s special in the My Net series is the FastTrack technology that automatically prioritizes important network traffic such as HD streaming, video calls, Xbox Live, etc. You don\’t have to turn off other devices just to make sure that you have flawless YouTube playback.

It also supports WD2Go which enable securely access and management to all files stored on My Net N900 Central HD dual-band storage router. It supports Dropbox and SkyDrive as well.

You can find more details of the product on the local press release below.

WD® Enters Wireless Home Networking Market, Ushers in New Era of Blazing Fast HD Entertainment Streaming

My Net™ Family of Dual-Band Routers with Exclusive FasTrack™ Technology Accelerates Video and Games using Intelligent, Real-Time Entertainment Prioritization

MANILA, Philippines – December 13, 2012 – WD, a Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) company, and a world leader in external storage and maker of the popular WD TV® media player family, today unveils its first line of wireless home networking products, designed specifically to accelerate movies, video and gaming, delivering a premium high-definition entertainment experience. With the My Net family of powerful and easy-to-use home networking products, WD debuts its exclusive FasTrack™ technology that instantly detects entertainment traffic on the network and fast-forwards it to gaming consoles, media players, smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, computers and other Wi-Fi connected devices.

“With so many people within the home simultaneously watching movies, playing games and browsing the Web via their iPad®, iPhone®, Xbox® and other devices, the network demands placed on today’s connected home has grown exponentially,” states Jim Welsh, executive vice president for WD\’s branded products and consumer electronics groups. “Our successes in creating Connected Home solutions with our WD TV media players and personal cloud products have given us valuable insights into the network-overload problems of home wireless users, and entering the wireless home networking market offers WD an exciting opportunity to strengthen our Connected Home offerings that are aimed at enhancing the home entertainment experience for consumers.”

Accelerated Entertainment

According to Nielsen and NM Incite’s recent U.S. Digital Consumer Report, data from the fourth quarter of 2011 shows that 33 percent of consumers streamed a movie or TV show from the Internet through a subscription service such as Netflix™ or Hulu Plus™. Internet video services, multi-player online gaming sites, and live video chat services, combined with the explosive growth of tablets, smartphones and other devices that connect to the home network, have created a new model of home entertainment and Internet usage.

With the industry’s only full line of HD dual-band wireless N routers, My Net customers can fully enjoy this new age of home entertainment. WD’s exclusive FasTrack optimization technology intelligently and automatically prioritizes Internet favorites like Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, YouTube™, Xbox® LIVE, Skype™ and others, to create a smooth streaming experience in up to Full-HD 1080p quality. By using real-time analysis to maximize bandwidth for entertainment services, My Net routers provide a premium entertainment experience on any screen in the home that is connected to the router.

Streamlined Setup and Ease-of-Use

The sleek hardware design of the My Net family of routers is complementary to the devices friendly and intuitive user interface, which was designed by a veteran team of developers to enable quick router setup from wireless or wired devices such as iPads and other mobile devices, as well as PCs and Mac® computers. The streamlined router setup is designed to make it easy for novice users to be up and running in minutes, while also providing all the customization tools expert users crave. The included My Net Dashboard makes it easy for users to customize, monitor or change the settings of the network, including setting parental controls, Internet security, guest network access, network name and password, printer and scanner settings, and mapping storage drives, all in one easy view.

New Combination Router, Personal Cloud and Automatic Wireless Backup

In addition to getting a premium home entertainment experience with My Net routers, customers can centralize storage and backup for all the computers in their home, as well as create a personal cloud for their digital media and remotely access those files anytime, anywhere. Part of the My Net family, My Net N900 Central is WD’s all-in-one N900 router with an integrated 1 TB or 2 TB internal hard drive. Remote access to My Net N900 Central is available on any computer through www.WD2go.com and with WD mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch® or Android™ smartphones and tablets.

In addition to keeping content safe at home and always accessible while away from home, users can rely on My Net N900 Central for automatic wireless backup with the included WD SmartWare™ software for Windows®, while Mac users can utilize all the features of Apple® Time Machine® backup software. Additionally, any WD external hard drive with SmartWare software can connect directly to a My Net router to wirelessly backup all PC computers in the home.

My Net Router Family

  • My Net N900 Central – The My Net N900 Central HD dual-band storage router provides accelerated HD streaming plus integrated storage for wireless backup and remote access. With FasTrack™ Plus optimization technology, My Net N900 Central delivers high quality, accelerated HD entertainment that is intelligently and automatically prioritized to ensure smooth streaming. The wireless-N storage router features fast wireless performance with speeds up to 900 Mbps (450 + 450 Mbps on the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands combined), as well as integrated 1 TB or 2 TB internal storage for automatic wireless backup. My Net N900 Central includes 4 LAN and 1 WLAN Gigabit Ethernet ports for up to 10/100/1000 Mbps wired speeds, 1 USB port for additional storage, printer and media share server use, and range amplifier antennas for extended range. Additionally, My Net N900 Central is Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) certified for easy detection and connection of Wi-Fi devices.
  • My Net N900 – The My Net N900 HD dual-band router also provides a premium entertainment experience for movies, games, video, music, video chat and more. The My Net N900 offers the ultimate performance for all connected devices in the home, even while streaming to multiple devices at the same time. The exclusive FasTrack Plus technology provides intelligent, real-time traffic prioritization for simultaneous HD and 3D media streaming and online gaming. The wireless-N router features high wireless performance with speeds up to 900 Mbps (450 + 450 Mbps on the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands combined) and also includes 7 LAN and 1 WLAN Gigabit Ethernet ports for up to 10/100/1000 Mbps wired speeds, 2 USB ports for additional storage, printer and media share server use, and range amplifier antennas for extended range. Additionally, My Net N900 is UPnP and DLNA certified.
  • My Net N750 – The My Net N750 HD dual-band router is optimized to deliver multiple simultaneous HD media streams on the network, delivering accelerated video to all connected wireless and wired devices. WD’s exclusive FasTrack technology detects entertainment traffic and prioritizes bandwidth on the network to smoothly stream multiple HD movies, shows, games and more to connected devices. The router provides a combined data rate of up to 750 Mbps (300 + 450 Mbps) and features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 USB ports.
  • My Net N600 – The My Net N600 HD dual-band router is ideal for simple and fast web surfing and entertainment streaming with FasTrack technology for a smooth HD viewing experience. The router provides a combined data rate of up to 600 Mbps (300 + 300 Mbps) and features 5 Fast Ethernet ports with 1 USB port.

Pricing

My Net N600: P3,190
My Net N750: P4,690
My Next N900: P7,090
My Net N900 Central (1 TB): P9,790
My Net N900 Central (2 TB): P11,690

Availability

My Net N600, My Net N750, My Net N900, My Net N900 Central will be available at select retailers by mid of December.  The My Net family of routers comes with 3 year warranty and is distributed by EA Global Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. and Iontech Technologies Inc. in the Philippines.

About WD

WD, a Western Digital company, is a long-time innovator and storage industry leader. As a storage technology pacesetter, the company produces reliable, high-performance hard disk drives and solid state drives. These drives are deployed by OEMs and integrators in desktop and mobile computers, enterprise computing systems, embedded systems and consumer electronics applications, as well as by the company in providing its own storage products. WD’s leading storage devices and systems, networking products, media players and software solutions empower people around the world to easily save, store, protect, share and experience their content on multiple devices. WD was established in 1970 and is headquartered in Irvine, California. For more information, please visit the company’s website at www.wd.com.

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC), Irvine, Calif., is a global provider of products and services that empower people to create, manage, experience and preserve digital content. Its companies design and manufacture storage devices, networking equipment and home entertainment products under the WD, HGST and G-Technology brands. Visit the Investor section of the company\’s website (www.westerndigital.com) to access a variety of financial and investor information.

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New Yahoo Mail Smells Like Gmail (2012)

With ex-Google executive Marissa Meyer reigning the purple company as CEO, it is not surprising why Yahoo seems to be on trance in releasing many updates on  their key web applications and services. It is clear that Yahoo is determined in catching up  the competitors.

Ever since I reviewed the New Yahoo Mail in 2011, I used it once in a while only but it never replaced Gmail as my primary email client anymore. Then came the new Outlook.com in Q3 2012 which is a radical rebranding of Hotmail. At the moment I use Outlook.com more often than Yahoo already. Then a few days earlier I received the newly updated Yahoo Mail and Yahoo claims that it the best ever Yahoo Mail ever. Is it really the best update ever?

New Yahoo Mail Features

Below is the screenshot of the new email composer. Is it much more refined compared to the older version? I can\’t really remember. However, when compared to Gmail and Outlook  I think they are all about the same now. Gmail took a minimalist approach after they revamped the composer recently and it currently lacks emoticon support unless you switched back to the older email composer. Outlook has the most number of emoticons (or should I say emoji?) while Yahoo still sports their very old line up of standard emoticons.

\"New

The features highlighted in 2011 are the following: visibly faster email, enhanced security, mobility and integration, ease of use, automatic organizer and personal archive.

This year, the features are somewhat the same, just in different packaging. At first you may not notice the difference but the user interface had been refined and simplified to make logging in and writing email faster than ever.

\"New

The dark buttons are gone. Instead of words —  Reply, Reply All and Forward are now just big icons. Several buttons are labelled to make sure that you don\’t confuse them with other icons such as Delete, Move, Spam and Actions.

Other noticeable difference is the removal of Yahoo Messenger, Sign Out, Options and Help links at the top to make room for a generic Yahoo pull-down menu at the top right corner, followed by Yahoo Mail logo, search mail / search web, then finally user account links, options and a home icon linked to Yahoo.com homepage. Finally, Yahoo Mail has so much cleaner and intuitive UI.

Resemblance to Gmail

If you put Gmail and Yahoo Mail side by side, you\’ll start to notice the similarities. Gmail has one black menu bar at the top. Yahoo is using a menu icon (three stacked rectangles) where all other Yahoo services are linked. Then you have one big search bar, then you user account links and other options at the right.

Yahoo and Gmail both use monochromatic icons. The only reason my icons in Gmail are colored in the screenshot below is because I am using Gmelius.

Even the placement of Yahoo Contacts is reminiscent to Gmail, except that in Gmail you have to click Gmail to get access to a drop down option for Contacts and Tasks.

\"Gmail

I don\’t think Yahoo is ripping off Google here but Yahoo is dangerously going in that direction.

iPhone, Android and Windows 8

Perhaps the best part of this New Yahoo Mail update is that Yahoo updated their native apps as well.

Windows 8 in particular is treated with an interface designed only for Windows 8. It comes with notifications and live tile support exploiting new features of Windows 8.

I also like the Android and iPhone app because they offer superb mobile email experience similar to Gmail.

Conclusion

The New Yahoo Mail can be described in three words:  fast, easy and anywhere. It really is the best release of Yahoo Mail so far despite looking more like Gmail after each iteration.

The native apps on Android, iOS and Windows 8 gives a consistent experience across different platform and has very high quality, which shows Yahoo can really compete in the apps space when it really tries. Let\’s hope Yahoo will continue to come up with more innovations.

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Twitter vs. Instagram – The Unanimous Decision

I tested  the newly updated Twitter app in iOS and Android since yesterday and right away I knew that Twitter is far behind the competition.

The short answer to which is better, Twitter vs. Instagram — is obviously Instagram by unanimous decision. In every review you\’ll read most pundits reason that Twitter is only following the footsteps of Instagram which made a new category of social network full of filtered photos.

Since I have already established that Instagram is still better, what\’s cool in Twitter\’s own photo filter features anyway?

Twitter vs. Instagram Filters

Twitter is using Aviary to process their photo manipulations… and they only have 8 filters at the moment. In contrast, Instagram has a whooping 18 free filters. Comparing Twitter filters vs. Instagram filters, Twitter is only using bare minimum at the moment and not even using full power of Aviary SDK. Aviary has a total of 30 filters and 12 of them are free while the other 18 are available via in-app purchase. Not to mention Aviary has more options to adjust brightness, warmth, contrast, saturation and sharpness. Maybe Twitter is only paying for the bare minimum features just to see how their users will use photo filters. Depending on the result, it\’s possible that Twitter might roll out new filters in the near future too.

Below, I have used an image that is vivid enough and has a fair distribution of highlight (white) and shadows (black), as well as mid-tones (gray). You can see how the picture is enhanced using all the Twitter photo filters.

\"Twitter

The interface  is clean and very intuitive.

The first button is for  \”auto-enhance\”, the right is crop option where you can crop and just pictures similar to the square ratio similar to Instagram, and the center button is the filter options.

I like that you can have a bird\’s-eye view of the filters and choose which filters look best immediately. You can\’t do this in Instagram because it forces you to select a filter one at a time only.

Instagram and Twitter War

Since Instagram remove the Twitter card support, you can only see link inside your Twitter feed. No more pictures in the stream like it used to be. Some 3rd party apps still support the embedded photos including Twitter\’s very own Tweetdeck but we don\’t know how long it will support it.

What\’s great about Twitter picture service is that is shown in embedded tweets.

Instagram on the other hand will only look like just any another links.

Embed Work-around?

Well, if you like Instagram pictures so much you can still use Instagram as your primary photo filter app, and then attach it to your Twitter post manually. There is an extra step and it will result to uploading the photo twice. One in  Instagram, then another one in Twitter as a duplicate.

I don\’t like the minimal choices of photo filters in Twitter now but the good news is, you can use any photo filter apps that you want and share it in Twitter. For instance, if you are one of the Instagram haters, there\’s plenty of choices around – including Aviary which has more advance features available in both Android and iOS.

If you are looking for ways to embed Instagram photos in your blog, you\’re lucky because WordPress 3.5 supports Instagram oEmbed. I haven\’t tested it yet but it\’s included in WordPress change logs as a new feature.

I have included the official Twitter photo filters video below. Let me know what you think of Twitter vs. Instagram and its short-term/long-term effect in your online community.

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Multiply.com Social Network To Shut Down on December

This post is a reminder for those people who have not backed up their Multiply.com content yet. I\’m going to share my sentiments about Multiply.com and how I backed up my data easier instead of using Multiply.com\’s tools and recommended browser extensions.

Do Multiply\’s Long Time Users Matter?

The news had been out for several month already and it all started with \”we are sorry\” note from Multiply.com\’s CEO Stefan Magdalinsk back in August 2012. To be honest, I was indifferent with the announcement even though I have old blog posts and pictures stored in Multiply.com.

I have expected Multiply to revamp their website long time ago because I have not seen any new feature in the website for a long time. What I don\’t like with the announcement is how Multiply.com decided to shelve the entire social network feature in one overhaul instead of small increments or several phases. What do you expect from long-time Multiply.com users, wave the white flag peacefully?

Multiply.com already knows that the decision will be unpopular but it didn\’t matter because it is a necessary step moving forward (at least for their business).  I\’m glad that I didn\’t buy a premium plan because if I did, I probably have uploaded more than 10 gigabytes of photos and videos, and I\’ll be scratching my head now how to move them somewhere else.

The transition period could have been bitter-sweet than disappointing if only the migration tools work flawlessly.

Until The End of the Year

Initially the plan is to make the export tools available until December 1, 2012 only. After that, there is a very big chance that you will not be able to get your data easily. However, Multiply decided to extend it until the end of the year. What will happen come December 1, 2012 is that you can\’t create new content using Multiply\’s social network features. Below is the excerpt of the update I receive in my email yesterday:

Come December 1st, your site will still be available online for viewing. However, you will no longer be able to create new postings, upload any social networking content (such as photos or blogs) or make any new comments on your existing entries for social networking. However, we will extend the availability of the download tools until the end of the year so you can back up your content at your leisure.

Preserve all content from your Multiply Account

\""Ultimate

The screenshot above happens when you try to download pictures using the media locker download option.

According to Multiply.com, Media Locker option is already available to all users so that you can download all your content more easily. See the screenshot of the email announcement below:

\"Multiply

Apparently, it doesn\’t work. Even if you want to get Multiply Premium account now  just to download high-resolution through media locker (which is silly at this point), the link to Multiply Premium account doesn\’t work. Kind of frustrating if you just want to get all your pictures and videos organized per album.

I have over 1 Gigabyte of pictures in Multiply and to download them all using the download media link (http://multiply-id.multiply.com/download-media) — is simply ridiculous. The recommended Chrome extension and Firefox add-on will attempt to download all the media linked to all URLs present in the page but you still have to click, potentially, hundred times  if you have a lot of stored pictures in Multiply.com.

Multiply has an export tool for Blogger. However, Blogger can\’t fetch photos and videos. Even if you get your blog posts migrated, the old picture URLs will still point to the original Multiply.com content — which is a very bad idea.

Another alternative is to use the Tumblr export tool. However, even if I just want to get my photos  through Tumblr, I won\’t…. because it doesn\’t work. You have to know Tumblr to understand that it has a lot of limitations. Tumblr only support 10 pictures in one photoset. If you import your Multiply albums, it only imports one image. Just like Blogger it points back to the original media in Multiply. Useless! Also, you can only upload 100 items at a time in Tumblr so you have to choose which item category you want to import. You probably want to import only blog posts, reviews and photos anyway. If you can\’t really import photo albums properly, you should at least be able to download them per album right?

There should have been a WordPress export tool but it didn\’t materialize.

If you have tried all these options, you might have lost hope already. Don\’t worry. It\’s not over yet.

The best option I found to download all media effortlessly is to use a download manager such as Free Download Manager (FDM) so that you can download all your pictures and videos without interruption using the media download page.

I don\’t know why Multiply.com did not recommend this approach when it is as easy as downloading all the links using a download manager.

Final Words

I am not disappointed that Multiply.com is transforming their business model to focus on e-commerce. In fact, I am excited to see Multiply.com\’s transformation. What I am very disappointed at is how they made it very difficult to migrate out of Multiply to other blogging and photo-sharing platforms. Without users who supported their social network, Multiply.com would not even exist and find its new direction in e-commerce.

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Disclosure Policy

This policy is last updated on 2012/11/05

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Marck V. For questions about this blog, you can reach the author through the contact page.

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, or other forms of compensation.

However, the compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All advertising is in the form of advertisements generated by a third party ad network. Those advertisements will be identified as paid advertisements.

Occasionally, the author accepts guest posts which undergo review and manual approval.

The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites or any other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers\’ own. If any author claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

 

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Timely by Demandforce is Shutting Down

\"Timely

Aside from Buffer, there is one free tool that I keep on using to schedule timely updates on Twitter or Facebook. That is Timely.is by Demandforce. This morning I just received the announcement that Timely is shutting down on November 16, 2012 and it saddened me.

Timely.is is unique because it figures out what time the posts should be scheduled unlike Buffer or Hootsuite which needs you to determine the posting time manually or by means of 3rd-party app. Timely figures out the posting time automatically with its special algorithm.

From the announcement, it is clear that Demandforce is only getting rid of the free version of Timely because Demandforce customers still has access to a version of Timely.

If you don\’t remember Timely.is was acquired by Demandforce last year through its acquisition of Flowtown, the brainchild of Ethan Bloch.

What if Demandforce offered premium account for Timely? I\’m sure there are power users out there willing to pay money  to schedule more posts with Timely. I don\’t want to second-guess what\’s the best decision for this service. I am just upset that they have to retire it.

Below is the announcement from Demandforce:

Dear Timely User,

Timely started as a fun side project back in 2010.

Since then it has grown to help tens of thousands of people publish millions of Tweets and Facebook updates.

We\’re proud of that. And happy we could help you manage your hectic world of social media.

Unfortunately we haven\’t been giving Timely much attention recently as we\’ve been directing our efforts towards Demandforce\’s paid products.

So we\’ve made the hard decision to retire Timely.

As of today we have stopped accepting new signups.

If you already have an account you will still be able to sign in and use Timely until November 16th.

When we launched Timely almost 2 years ago there were no other tools that would automatically figure out the best time for a Tweet to go out.

Thankfully there are some great alternatives today such as Buffer or Hootsuite.

I should also note that a version of Timely is still available to Demandforce customers.

Thank you for being a part of the Timely story,

Ethan Bloch, Co-Creator of Timely

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Best 15 Travel Apps for Android and iOS

Below are 15 travel apps for Android and iPhone that my wife and I use when travelling. I use Android as my primary phone while she uses iPhone. From time to time we swap phones because I don\’t get all the apps I want in Android and sometimes it is the other way around.

These apps are all available in both Android and Apple iOS devices. I hope that these can make your travel easier and more fun.

Travel Apps for Android & iPhone

\"Kayak

1. Kayak

When booking deals for hotels, flights and cars, Kayak gives a lot of options even for most remote place that I tried booking. I mainly use this for researching accommodations but it has other features that will delight seasoned travelers.

It can also consolidate your travel plans in \”My Trips\” which can be done easily  by forwarding booking confirmation emails to [email protected]

Kayak also conveniently gives you a ready-made packing list that you can use to track every items you need to pack to make sure you don\’t forget anything.

Other features include flight tracker, price alerts, airline directory, airline fees, airport information (powered by  GateGuru), currency converter and inflight GPS tracking.

Two features that is existing in iOS but lacking in Android are Tours and Attractions, which gives you a list of places of interest to go with tour guides, and Buzz which lists flight search trends.

\"Tripit

2. Tripit

Even before Kayak added \”My Trips\”, TripIt has been parsing airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals receipts and other confirmation emails to create your master itinerary. It is better in organizing your itineraries because it makes them available in one place and you can share it with family and friends who uses Tripit too.

When you add people in your Inner Circle, you can automatically share your complete itinerary with other people using Android or iOS — it is a great way to inform anyone in your Inner Circle your whereabouts.

\"Flight

3. Flight Track

If you do a lot of business travel, you need this application. It has real-time status for gates, delays and cancellation. You can also find alternate flights and view seat maps.

\"Hostelworld

4. HostelWorld

If hotels is not your thing and you prefer back-packing then HostelWorld is the perfect app to get a cheap place to stay.

\"XE

5. XE Currency Converter

It was tough choosing the best free currency converter.

Before sticking with XE Currency Converter, I was using Oanda Currency Converter. It was great but it can only show 1 currency at a time and there was no log when was the latest exchange rate update.

So I switched to XE Currency Converter because it has live exchange rate and I can refresh it anytime I want.

\"Expensify

6. Expensify

This app lets you log expenses, scan receipts, log time with an hourly rate and use mileage, odometer or gps as reference to any bill. Scanning receipts is as simple as taking picture of the receipts and letting Expensify process it using Smartscan that  automatically logs properly whatever value found in the receipt using OCR. The free version is limited to 10 free smartscans a month but when you upgrade to pro, each scans is priced at 20 cents each.

\"Lemon

7. Lemon

If you don\’t need to log mileage then Lemon is a simpler alternative to Expensify. It also lets you process receipt using their OCR technology. You get 25 free receipt processing a month. With a pro account, you can even process line item details – i.e. every item on your grocery receipt will be recorded not just the high level expense value.

On top of this, Lemon can also keep a digital copy of your cards — not just credit cards mind you. It works on IDs, loyalty and membership cards. I don\’t know if Apple copied the idea of Lemon but before Apple\’s Passbook for tickets and coupon, there was Lemon for cards.

\"Foodspotting

8. Foodspotting

When you go places, you need to find recommended great local dishes, not just restaurants. What\’s great about this app is that it\’s all about dishes. You can find the best food nearby and get recommendations from people you follow.

\"Foursquare

9. Foursquare

Since Foursquare upgraded their app to more than a check-in app, I started using it to find recommended places using the Explore feature. You can search for specials, trending, food, coffee, nightlife, shops, sights, outdoors, arts and entertainment. Some of the tips are very helpful to get the most out of the scenic spot or trendy places.

For food and beverages, Foursquare is starting to function like Yelp but unlike Yelp, Foursquare is available in many places, mostly generated by users. You also don\’t get a menu; you simply get tips on what to eat from random users who check-in on those places.

\"Triposo

10. Triposo

I only discovered Triposo lately and it is has travel guides for most countries. The best part is that it is free and it works offline. No need to worry about data access on remote places without signal. You don\’t need to worry about roaming charges with this app.

Each travel guide you install presents you a travelpedia where you can learn the basic history, culture, architecture  and music of the country. It also has some phrasebook that can be handy. It has popular destinations with guides on what you can see and don on those places.  It even has \”eat, drink and sleep\” section to find where to hang out at night, drink coffee and get hotels accommodation with all the contact details and address that you can use to get there.

\"Tourist

11.  TouristEye

This is another app that can work without internet connection. When you add a place in your trip, it will download an offline copy of all the information of the city that you have chosen. That includes maps, all the attractions, restaurants, entertainments, tours and transport information.

It doubles as itinerary planner and travel journal too.

\"Google

12. Google Translate

The latest version of Google Translate is now essential to any traveler going to a foreign country with a foreign language. You can take picture of any sign and with Google\’s character recognition it can translate any language to english.

\"Google

13. Google Local

When you install Google+ in Android, you also get Google Local. It replaced Google Places. This app is actually merged with Google Maps, Navigation and Latitude in Android because it is contained in one unified application. However,you need to install Google Local separately in iOS.

Zagat ratings are incorporated in Google Local because Google purchased Zagat, remember? I still find the 30-point scale unusual but at least it gives you an overview on how good a place is. Google Local also aggregates other reviews from sites like TripAdvisor so you can\’t find TripAdvisor in this list as it is redundant already.

Google Local is also linked to Google+ Local Pages so you can use your Google+ circles to get recommendations.

\"Google

14. Google Maps

Too bad iOS replaced Google Maps in iOS6. It is still the most detailed map available for free and it has live traffic information where it is supported.

Indoor maps for selected places are particularly helpful in navigating unfamiliar buildings. In Android you can also cache map area so you can use Google Maps even if there is no network signal. This is very important if you are going to an island or rural places.

I can\’t think of any maps with chock-full of features that is so easy to use. Good news for iPhone users, you can still use the mobile web version of Google Maps.

\"Siri\"

15. Google Now / Siri

We call them personal assistant and knowledge navigator apps. However, these apps can be your travel buddy too.

Google Now is only officially available in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It incorporates several features from different apps and made them accessible using voice commands as well location triggers. Some of it features includes traffic guide, public transit information, next appointment notification, flight delay forecast, place recommendations, weather, translation, currency conversion and time conversion.

Siri has almost the same set of features but Google Now is location-aware while Siri is not. For travelling, Google Now gets an edge because it doesn\’t require voice input all the time but when you\’re bored while on the road, Siri could be fun.

Google Now and Siri are applications that can seriously change the way we use information around us.

If data roaming is not an issue then Google Now and Siri is the perfect companion in any place you wish to go. Of course, given the choice I would still travel with my love ones.

So now, it\’s your turn. Let me know what\’s your favorite travel apps for Android or iPhone.

 

 

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