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 trips@kayak.com.

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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Cebu Pacific Error 5084: Can\’t Get Pass Seat Selection

Cebu Pacific Error on Ticket Booking

\"Cebu

Piso Fare is over and I just had a great ticket deal despite the troublesome Cebu Pacific errors on ticket booking. Nothing new; it seems that the same thing is going on each year.

I always perceive that Cebu Pacific\’s greatest weakness is its online ticket reservation system because it crawls almost to a halt when people are booking for special promos. It creates a lot of frustration as well as bizarre errors caused by unresponsive server and overloaded payment processor.

I don\’t understand why their server scales so poorly when elastic cloud  server technologies are easily available these days. I can\’t see any improvement year after year. Sometimes I think that they don\’t really care to upgrade their systems to create artificial demand during promos — allegedly.

Going back to my main point, I\’m posting this as  a reference for other people who might encounter this weird error when booking Cebu Pacific Air tickets. I already reported this to helpdesk but who knows how soon they can fix this. Maybe they won\’t.

Error: 5084 Dynamic Warning

The \”dynamic warning\”  could happen for a number of reasons. On my case, this error happened because I was trying to reserve a seat for my wife who is boarding with our baby as guest (below 2 years old). Basically the error tells me that another customer with an infant just chose the row that I have selected  and I am not allowed to chose the seat on that same row because they only allow one infant per row.

I didn\’t know they have these kind rules but whatever.

I tried selecting different seats. I tried each row without success. I keep on getting the same error.

\"Cebu

On a sidenote, I got this error even if the system had pre-selected the seats for me. Why would the system pre-allocate a seat when it should have known that I can\’t select it. It can easily allocate the seat that will not put two or more babies in a row. It ignores the rule and it doesn\’t help.

\"\"

Work-around solution

Simply remove the seat allocation. This can be done by selecting the yellow seat and removing the seat allocated.

If you are traveling in a group this might be a bad idea because there\’s no guarantee that  you will be seated right next to each other. However if you can\’t get pass the seat selection and the only way to complete the transaction is to remove the seat reservations, you really have no other option but to remove them.

Seat reservation is an add-on. It\’s optional. It lets you select your preferred seat ahead of time but there is still no guarantee.

You can still reserve your seat after paying the ticket so I tried getting the add-on after paying the ticket. Unfortunately I still get the same error.

Cebu Pacific introduced web check-in lately and according to their old press release it also comes with free seat selection. Take note that web check-in is only available 48 hours up to 4 hours before the flight time. During this period it seems that you can still select your preferred seat free of charge. I received an email from Cebu Pacific advertising the free service so I hope it is still offered.

However, what good it will be if I\’ll get the same error? I might have to call customer support to get my preferred seats then.

Sometimes I ask myself, is the inconvenience really worth it?

 

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The Best of MV Tech Blog: 2011 Edition

It\’s almost the end of another year and just like in the previous years this is the time for me to reflect on what happened in 2011 as we prepare to  move forward and welcome 2012.

I have written 79 articles this year; not my most active year in blogging but it is one of the most consistent one because I tried to write an article at least once a week to cover a great topic.

Based on stats, here are the top 10 favorites in MV Tech Blog in 2011:

10. Top 10 Business Models in 2010:  \”A compilation of successful business models in 2010.\” In this article the business models of successful startups such as Airbnb, Groupon and Spotify were revealed.

9. Does Texting Affect Your Spelling?:  \”When you use a lot of abbreviations or text speak, does texting really affect your ability in spelling? There are still debates whether this is true or not.\” I did a lot of research on this subject and I found out that it is still best to use proper spelling. I this article I showed my stand against improper abbreviation and spelling as a result of technology.

8. Run Android on PC with BlueStacks App Player and Cloud Connect: In this article I showed how easy it is to run Android on PC using BlueStacks App Player and sync Android apps from your mobile using Cloud Connect. Not all apps work out of the box because it is still in alpha.

7. Browser Wars Illustrated: \”So true and funny. This art is compelling beyond words.\” This is about an illustration depicting Firefox and Chrome fighting along with IE eating glue.

6. Facebook Japan Unique Feature: Blood Type: \”In Japan, users can post their blood type on their profile. Why can\’t we have this feature globally?\”

5. Free Facebook Mobile Access (Philippines Promo): \”You don\’t need to own a smartphone running iOS or Android to enjoy Facebook mobile. It is free for up to 90 days on Globe and Smart promo.\”

4. Google Black Navigation Bar: Remove, Disable or Change It:  \”Google Black Menu Bar (codename \’Sandbar\’) is a toolbar that attempts to unify all Google properties. Don\’t want the black bar? Remove, disable or change it.\”  Apparently many people wish to change its color.

3. Bluetooth Problems with Ovi Suite on Windows 7: \”Dear Nokia, screwing up your software will seriously discourage more people to buy any Nokia phone in the future.\” I hardly used any Nokia phones nowadays but this article is popular.

2. Kindle Comparison Chart – Kindle Fire vs. Others:  \”Kindle comparison chart comparing all Kindle versions, and Kindle Fire against iPad 2 and Nook.\” This is not a surprise. Kindle Fire is the only significantly successful Android tablet that came out this year.

1. How to Wisely Use DFA Passport Appointment System: \”For first time Philippine passport applicants and for those who are renewing their passport, here are my tips from my experience on DFA appointment system.\” This article turned out to be very helpful.

Well, as I reflect on these articles I noticed that there is no Apple headline at all. I\’m not sure why but I did cover Apple.

I wish I have the luxury of time to collate the best tweets and retweets that I received this year but I can\’t.

To all the readers and online buddies, thank you very much for being part of this wonderful year.

So long 2011. Let\’s welcome 2012!

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How to Wisely Use DFA Passport Appointment System

\"\"For all Filipinos out there who are interested in applying for ePassport, renewing their expiring passport or replacing their missing passport, Department of Foreign Affairs is already imposing the appointment system for a while now. For readers who are not familiar or confused with this relatively new appointment system, continue reading.

Basically, the appointment system is supposed to make passport application and renewal more efficient using the website www.passport.com.ph or by DFA hotline 737-1000. Placing an appointment online or by phone is FREE but there are passport fees which are payable later.

Regular Processing: P950.00 (25 working days)
Rush Processing: P1,200.00 (15 working days)
Additional fee for lost passports that is still valid: P200.00
Delivery: P120 (optional)

With the new system, it eliminates long queue because only applicants who have appointments can be admitted during the allotted time. If you applied for a Philippines passport before without the aid of travel agencies, you probably know how long the queue could be at the old DFA office. It saves time and keeps you away from enterprising fixers.

To start with your appointment, it\’s always recommended to carefully read the expectations. You should carefully read the procedures before proceeding and take note of these reminders:

  • Fill-out the online forms and make sure all information are complete and correct, specially your email address because you will receive the printable form and reference number in your email.
  • Please READ all information. Do not overlook a single  requirement detail because it might cause inconvenience later on.
  • Applicants will not be admitted at the entrance gate without valid appointment and application forms.
  • Photocopy all the necessary documents before proceeding to DFA Aseana.
  • Applicants will not be processed if they do not have complete set of photocopies of their documents.

Moving forward, the following is my personal experience on online appointment but the DFA hotline should give similar experience as they are using the same system.

My passport is expiring on March 31, 2011 and I need to renew my passport for a potential business or work-related trip for the next few weeks. Yesterday (March 26, 2011) I set an appointment for my passport renewal and to my dismay, the appointment system schedule is very much off my expectation. The earliest schedule I could get was May 26, 2011. That is two months waiting for an appointment and another 15 workings days for rush processing.

\"\"

Two months ago my sister-in-law applied for her ePassport and it only took her 1 month to get an appointment but on my case I have to wait for 2 months. I cannot wait that long because I could miss out an opportunity. I started to get frustrated because I could not find a sooner schedule; I repeatedly hit F5 to refresh the available schedule but I could only get May 26. Waiting much longer is pointless so I was forced to choose this schedule.  However, I know that whenever you apply for a new appointment, the previous appointment will be replaced. Knowing this, I tried getting sooner appointment dates. From May 26, I got May 25, then May 11 and then May 10 — which is still unacceptable.

To help me with my quest to get sooner appointment, I set my browser to auto-refresh the schedule page. I waited for almost 2 hours staring at my monitor but I could not get a sooner appointment. It was 3AM already. I decided to sleep.

I woke up late at around 11AM and the first thing I checked was my computer. To my surprise, there were several slots available on March 31, 2011!  It is a big leap from my previous schedule. Now I only have to wait for 4 days.

If you are struggling on getting an earlier appointment I hope this technique will get you a sooner schedule. I didn\’t try calling DFA hotline but it should give you similar result. If you do not want to pester the call center agents then this method is recommended. This is probably a limitation of the system. The slot is simply made available if someone cancels an appointment and anyone can snatch the freed up slot. Paunahan na lang makasingit.

The new Philippine ePassport is a biometric passport and it has security features including a hidden encoded image, an ultra-thin holographic laminate, and a tamper-proof electronic microchip. For more information about the Philippine passport, go to http://www.passport.com.ph or http://www.epassport.com.ph.

If you have a tip on getting your ePassport (new application, renewal, re-issue of lost passport, extension, etc) or you just want to share your experience, don\’t hesitate to write your comments below.

Update: Just got my passport on May 9, 2011…. so it seems that I paid rush processing (15 working days) and got my passport after 25 working days.

 

P.S. I am not connected to DFA so I cannot answer all your questions. I will try but I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Also, please use some common sense before asking a question. You may want to read the comments because it might have been asked and answered already.

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