Travel

As road warriors we put the Travel apps from the app store through their paces and share the best ones with you.

Mobile Passport - Officially authorized by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Mobile Passport is Finally Here!

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If you travel internationally then you know the joys of long Customs lines upon your return. It’s for this very reason that I signed up for Global Entry as soon as it was available. However, even without Global Entry, I always wondered why Customs was such an analog process. As your plane nears the United States, the flight attendants start handing out Customs forms. Of course most people don’t even have pens with them these days, but anyway you fill out the forms and then present them to a Customs agent after standing in a long line. They form asks the same basic questions about what you’re bringing back into the country.

Well now this process has finally gone electronic!

If you have the NEW Mobile Passport App you can now create a profile including taking a CURRENT photo of yourself (nope the app doesn’t allow you to choose one already saved on your iPhone), the same info that’s on your current passport and save it in the App with a pin number. You can then answer the questions in advance on your iPhone. It will create a digital receipt with a bar code that can be scanned at a kiosk upon your return, therefore bypassing the long lines. Since this is NEW, it has limitations. The first being the airlines. Currently (as of the writing of this review) it’s only supported on Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Air Tran, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, Korean Airlines, Southwest and Virgin Atlantic. The second and perhaps the biggest limitation today is that it’s only supported at ONE airport and that’s nation’s busiest airport Atlanta (ATL). If that bugs you, just stay turned. These things take time to roll out. The same was the case with TSA PreCheck. It was only at a few airports at first and only supported by a couple of airlines. Now it’s at just about every airport I’ve flown through in the past year.

 

The Bottom Line

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I’m happy to see this process go electronic for the masses! I don’t think this app will benefit me as a Global Entry member, but it will certainly help when I’m traveling with family members, friends and colleagues that aren’t in Global Entry. By the way, you still need to bring your Passport! This app is only to speed up your return. You still need your regular Passport/IDs for travel. Thanks Dave Helmly for the heads up on this app. The app is iOS only at this point with a “Soon on GooglePlay banner on the developer’s website”.

iTunes.

FlightTrack 5

FlightTrack 5 Offers A Slick Interface for All Your Flight Tracking Needs

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I’ve been a fan of Mobiata’s FlightTrack Pro for a few years now. It’s my goto flight tracker and since I travel for a living I’m using it almost weekly. When I saw that they released a brand new flight tracker FlightTrack 5, I was more than just a little curious. I wondered was this an upgrade of my Pro version or at least a peek at things to come. FlightTrack 5 is a completely new app, built from the ground up with a slicker more animated user interface. The layout is very clean and it’s optimized as a Universal app for your iPhone or iPad. This App gives you just about everything you could possibly want to know not only about your flight, but also where you’re headed. Sure you get the take off and landing times, but you also get details about the plane itself such as the model and seat maps. Flight delayed? Get alternate flights and you’re one tap away from calling the airline without having to look the number up. It can also automatically sync your flights to your calendar as well as share the flight details with anyone you choose via Messages, Mail Twitter or Facebook. flighttrack5-weather

On the iPad the experience gets even more detailed with Airport Details such as a beautiful weather forecast, and terminal maps. Unless I’m missing them I couldn’t find these extras on the iPhone. The seatmap is powered by SeatGuru and will not only show you a layout of the plane you’re going to be on, but also amenities such as WiFi, power, video entertainment, etc. You can input multiple flights and one of my favorite features is the ability enable auto deletion of flights 24 hours after they’ve arrived.

The Bottom Line

It’s hard not to love this flight tracker. However, there are definitely a few things on my wish list. First and probably the biggest reason I’ll stick with FlightTrack Pro for now is that this version doesn’t have integration with TripIt.com. All my travel plans are automatically sent to TripIt.com from my online booking tool. FlightTrack Pro automatically picks them up and populates all my flights in the app without me having to do any manual entry. I can only guess that there must be some contract negotiation going on here as to why they would omit this key feature from their new app. The other thing I’d like to see since it doesn’t support syncing with TripIt right now is at least the ability to sync manually entered flights with iCloud so that they show up on my iPad AND iPhone no matter which device I input the flights into. Lastly it would nice to send flight info to other FlightTrack 5 users so that they don’t have to manually enter my flight info as well. FlightTrack 5 offers the ability to add other contacts to your flights, why not let me send them the flights so that they can have them in their app as well? Other than those few things, this is a very solid app and I’d easily recommend it to any flyer that isn’t using TripIt.

You can get FlightTrack 5 here iTunes.

My TSA

My TSA App

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I remember teasing my buddy Rich Harrington about his use of the My TSA App. He and I are both frequent travelers and probably know the information for what you can bring on board airplanes by heart. However, the rules are always changing. I remember someone asking me “can you bring a corkscrew in your carry-on bag?” I paused for a second, cursed and downloaded the app. The answer was yes as long as it didn’t have a blade on it. Nonetheless, the App made it’s way into the “Flying” folder of my iPhone. Again today I fired up the App because I wanted to know how busy the airports would be today (the day after a holiday weekend). This is where I had a slight disappointment. Sure enough there were wait times listed, but the information in some cases was several hours old. It appears that this info is dependent on flyers loggin their own wait times. So if no one logs a wait time for your airport today, then you won’t be able to see what the wait times are. While that was a disappointment, the app is still useful for airport delays, what you can and can’t bring onto a plane and most importantly to me these days, which airports have TSA Pre Check.

What would make it better?

This app is OK, but it could be a lot better. First off upgrade the screen size to support the iPhone 5. Use real-time wait times. Let me have all the same features for any airport I pick, not just my default/closest airport. Let me create a list of favorite airports.

Air Travel can be bad enough without extra security headaches. Wether you’re a frequent flyer or an occasional flyer this app will probably come in handy. They less often you fly, you’ll probably need it even more.
iTunes

Trip Weather - Forecast for Every City of Your Tour.

Trip Weather – Forecast for Every City of Your Tour App

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I have several great weather Apps. On Monday I even showcased a new one called Haze. While these apps are great at showing you all about the weather for a given location, they are all missing one thing. They are all focused on one location at a time and not geared to show you a forecast for multiple cities on a trip or tour. I’m currently on the Adobe Create Now World Tour and in some cases going to a different city each day. As I was flying from Baltimore to Milwaukee with a layover in Minneapolis and then later driving to Chicago I wondered what the weather was going to be like for those destinations on the days I’d be there? While I can certainly sit down and put each city into any of my weather apps, I wanted to have an App that gave me the upcoming weather for multiple cities in one view. Trip Weather was the 1st one that I found to give me just that. The concept is simple. You enter the cities and the dates you’ll be in those cities. When you’re done, you’ll have a scrolling display of your weather forecast for your upcoming stops. It does this well.

Great, but I want more detail sometimes

The App does exactly what it says it does and I can’t fault it for what it does. However, what I’d like to see in an update is the ability to tap on any given day/city and get more details for that day/city. Perhaps it would expand with an hourly forecast. Other than that simple request Trip Weather was exactly what I was looking for. I even like how it’s in the Travel category on the App Store instead of the Weather category. It’s definitely a travel tool more than a weather app. If your travels include multiple back to back destinations, then you definitely should check out this app.

iTunes

Fly Delta for iPad

Fly Delta for iPad and iPhone

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As a Delta frequent flyer (Diamond Medallion) I rely on the Fly Delta App on a regular basis. The App provided the basics and electronic boarding passes. However, it was lacking features compared to the competition. It lacked Passbook support, the ability to manage/view your Skymiles account info, iPhone 5 display size support and there wasn’t even a way to book a ticket or make changes to a reservation. To make matters worse the App became unusable for many as Delta updated their website to prompt users to choose a new password instead of a PIN, and the existing App didn’t support passwords! Doh! That all changed this past weekend. Delta not only released the long awaited and much needed 2.0 update to the Fly Delta App for iPhone, but they also released an iPad version.

Fly Delta on iPhone

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The iPhone App answered all my previous concerns. I can now do everything in the App that I’d want to do on the go. Most importantly it also supports Apple’s Passbook. You might be wondering why Passbook support is important if the App could already produce a scannable electronic boarding pass? First of all Passbook supports geofencing. This means that when you’re near the airport your boarding pass can appear on the lock screen. Just swipe the icon and there it is. No need to dig for it in the App. Secondly the Passbook pass can automatically update with the latest gate information. In the previous App it would sometimes take forever to update (downloading itineraries) before allowing you to get to your boarding pass. With Passbook the pass is there whether you have a connection or not. When the 2.0 update came out I was in the middle of a trip to Orlando, so I used it for the return flight. The Passbook option was there, however the geofencing feature wasn’t there and the pass never provided the gate info. Not sure if it’s a bug in the App/implementation or it was just a fluke with this particular airport. I have another trip this week and I’ll check it again.
UPDATE I have now flown on a different trip with different airports and it seems that the gate info and geofencing features are broken in Delta’s Passbook implementation. Hopefully they’ll fix this soon. The other thing I noticed was that this version doesn’t seem to send Push Notifications when it’s time to check in like the old one did.

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Aside from the Passbook support the App has been updated in every way. It’s optimized for the 4″ screen size. It now allows you to access your Skymiles account info. They even added the ability to price/book tickets right in the App. The bag tracking feature also came over and yes you can even use your new password to log in. :-) At this point I can’t think of anything left to include in the App that I’d need.

Fly Delta for iPad

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Just as I was about to complain that this wasn’t a Universal App I noticed that they released a separate Fly Delta for iPad App. I couldn’t wait to download it. This App is geared more towards planning your trip, booking your ticket and your in flight experience. This was a well thought out effort. Rather than make one huge App they kept the iPhone version relatively small and added the other features to the iPad version. I agree with this strategy. The Fly Delta for iPad App provides entertainment features. For example, you see suggested movies to download based upon your destination. For my flight to Vegas the App suggested “The Hangover”. The iPad version also offers the Delta Sky Magazine. A complete electronic version of the magazine that you can read right on your iPad. This might not be too practical since the printed version is right there in the seat pocket in front of you, but I can see a day where they eliminate or reduce the printed copies in favor of the electronic version. You can check in for your flight on the iPad version (although you won’t have Passbook), see maps/seat maps, purchase trip extras such as WiFi and Priority Boarding, and lastly a very cool Glass Bottom Jet feature that provides an interactive moving Map as you fly complete with landmarks and social content from your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

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These ARE the Updates you have Been Waiting for! Not only are these two apps very functional, but they are beautifully designed. The iPad version can be a little slow sometimes and it really bugs me that I can’t stay logged in like I can on the iPhone version, but other than that if you Fly Delta, these are must have apps!

Get Fly Delta for iPhone/iPod touch here: Fly Delta - Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Get Fly Delta for iPad here: Fly Delta for iPad - Delta Air Lines, Inc.

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