Travel

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

My TSA

My TSA App

my_tsa_iPhone5

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.

Uber

Uber – Everyone’s Private Driver On Your iPhone

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I travel quite a bit and when I do it often means taking everything from subways to taxis to private cars to get around from meeting to meeting and client to client. I’ve reviewed Taxi Magic in the past and stil use it. However, sometimes I need something a little better or more reliable. Even with booking a taxi through Taxi Magic, you are at the mercy of the dispatcher and worse the driver to actually show up. Over the past few months I’ve been using Uber as well. Uber seems to be MUCH MORE RELIABLE. I’ve never had a car take more than 5 minutes to show up and the drivers are usually very professional.

How does it work?

Download the Uber App and add your credit card to it. They even have a nifty ability to take a picture of your credit card in the app to have it input the numbers. That’s it. You’re ready to use the App. Now if you’re in an area covered by Uber, (at my last count they cover 22 major metropolitan areas across the US and in cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Sydney) fire up the App and you’ll instantly see your location on the map and how far the nearest Uber car is away from you. Since I started using the App they’ve added Taxis to the list besides Town Cars and SUVs. Admittedly I haven’t tried them yet for a taxi to see if they are any better than Taxi Magic. However, when it comes to their cars and SUVs their great. You’ll receive a SMS text message confirmation that your driver is on the way as well as another message when your driver arrives. Hop in and tell them where you want to go. Once you arrive just get out and go! Nothing to sign, no tip to worry about. It’s all baked into the price. You’ll see the app update with your charges and the ability to rate your driver 1-5 stars.

The only thing I’d like to see is the ability to schedule in advance. Taxi Magic added this and it has worked great. If you know you’re leaving your meeting and going to the airport at a specific time why not have the ability to book the car in advance?

The Bottom Line

Uber makes it really easy to get a dependable ride from point A to point B. However, this convenience comes at a price. Uber is not cheap! Prices start with a base fare. After that, they charge depending on speed. When travelling at over 11mph, they charge a distance fee. Below 11mph, they charge a time fee. It could easily be twice that of a taxi. This is why I believe they added a taxi service to their offering. If they can provide dependability with the lower cost of a taxi then it’s a win-win! Either way, I’m loving Uber. Thankfully this new version allows you to input a destination and get a fare estimate. This way you can see if it’s worth it rather than getting sticker shock at the end of your ride. The App is free and you don’t pay anything unless you actually get a ride. So it’s worth having on your iPhone as a just in case if nothing else.

iTunes

Fly Delta

Fly Delta App – “This is not the upgrade you’re looking for!”

As a Diamond Medallion, Million Miler with Delta I use the Fly Delta App quite a bit. While the App has continued to improve over the years, it was still missing key features like being able to manage your Skymiles account and surprisingly not being able to actually buy a ticket in the App. Needless to say I was more than just a little excited to see the Delta App featured in the Apple iOS 6 announcement by showcasing an upcoming version with Passbook support.

Once iOS 6 shipped back in September we began seeing a regular stream of updates to our favorite Apps that offered iOS 6 support, iPhone 5 display size support, and in some cases Passbook support where appropriate. Now I’ll be the first to be a little forgiving to developers that run into development issues that are unforeseen and therefore cause delays in shipping their app. I work for a developer and I see it all the time. Also my own Learn the Creative Suite App hasn’t been updated yet for iPhone 5 screen size by my developers.  I figured that the developers of the Fly Delta App were taking a little more time to give us a really kick butt update! Granted it might take a while, but it would probably be worth the wait.

Delta made things worse by breaking their existing App

When a new computer or operating system is released, I always joke with the people that get so excited or up in arms that just because something new has come out, that it doesn’t make the thing you’ve been happily using all of a sudden stop working. While I would have loved an updated Fly Delta App with Passbook support, the existing App was working just fine as it always has. Well that was until Delta decided that it was time to update their website. Not only did it get a design refresh, it also got a security/login update. If you go to delta.com and log in with your existing account you will be prompted to create a new “password” instead of the 4 digit pin that had been in place. If you create a new Skymiles account, you won’t have a choice, you’ll have to crate a new alpha-numeric password. No problem right? It’s more secure! That’s all fine and good, except that the Fly Delta App only accepts 4 digit pins. This means that anyone that updates their password, will no longer be able to log into the existing App. No more boarding passes period. No more itineraries. You’d have to go back to using the Mobile Website.

An Update Finally Arrived, but….

I’ve been checking my iPhone for updates every day, multiple times a day in anticipation of this update. I was hoping to see it before I finished traveling for the year. Then all of a sudden, there it was. Finally it was an update to the Fly Delta App that I was sure that at a minimum would fix the login issue and hopefully have the other features we’ve been waiting for too. I was sadly disappointed. It was merely an update that “Added a link to the Delta privacy policy”. REALLY? Delta, after all this time, you submit an App to the App Store that merely adds a link to your privacy policy? As a loyal customer that flies over 200,000 miles a year, I’m stunned and disappointed. Rarely do we ever mention Apps here that we don’t consider to be “Best” Apps, but this time we had an App that went from being a Best App (or at least a good one) to one that isn’t even usable anymore. Your competition has updated their Apps for iOS 6, iPhone 5 and Passbook: AA, United, Air Canada & Lufthansa. Why not you?

I’d love to see an update that includes:

  • Support for your new passwords
  • Passbook support
  • iPhone 5 display size
  • Skymile Account Management (why would you allow this via the mobile site and not via your native app?)
  • The ability to buy your product (a flight) in the App <-You are in the business to make money right?
  • and while you’re at it, an iPad native version wouldn’t hurt. Both AA and Lufthansa have done this.

I’ll be glad to change my rating once you have a working update and by the way, NO ONE was looking for your privacy policy in your App. No one! If any feature should have been on the mobile website and not in the App, this would have been the one to do that with.

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