Traveling with Pizza Compass for iPhone

pizzacompassappThere are seventy-four pizza chains in the US. That’s not individual stores, just franchises. And, I suspect, that number is nothing compared to all of the mom-and-pop shops across the country. So it should be easy to find a slice when you’re out of town, right?

Well, not always. Not a good one at least. That’s a problem that Pizza Compass for iPhone ($0.99) exists to solve. Just launch the app and it finds the nearest pizza place and points you to it.

Hold on. Pizza Compass won’t subject you the dump that the locals avoid. You can check each suggestion for Forsquare reviews. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, give the compass a spin at let it pick a stop for you.

I was recently out of town and hungry, so I decided to give Pizza Compass a try. Here’s how it went.

After a few hours of driving around, I had that hunger that only artery-clogging, life-shortening cheese and grease would satisfy. I pulled the car over and launched Pizza Compass, which pointed me towards Upper Crust Pizza. The reviews seemed largely positive, except for Cozzie D.’s stern warning:

“If you don’t like black olives, I recommend not getting the Greek salad.”

Done and done, Cozzie D.

Armed with the details of 44 Foursquare reviews and app-supplied driving directions, I drove to Upper Crust Pizza, despite the hoity-toity name.

It looked nice enough and the staff was friendly. I placed an order.

ucp

As you know, any disgusting pizza can be masked with toppings. In fact, if you ever see a cheese-stuffed crust…that’s an apology. That’s the cook saying, “Our pizza sucks. We know it. As an apology, we’ve crammed the crust with cheese.” Avoid those places.

I ordered a small cheese and sat down. As I waited, I shot this compelling Vine video.

At last it arrived! I lifted the glistening, greasy cardboard lid to reveal the cheesy goodness within!

cheese

Partial foul for that glob of migratory cheese on the left, but that was my only complaint! I’m happy to say that Pizza Compass did steer me in the right direction. Well done, little app. You’ve earned a spot in my travel folder.

Evernote as all-around travel companion

hawaiiiphoneevernote

I realize it’s de rigeur to squawk about how taking photos of important or memorable things is the kind of thing an idiot does instead of “taking in the moment” or “actually being present,” but I’m a pretty firm believer in taking photos of cool things I see and experience when traveling. Perhaps that makes me a philistine, but whatever.

It won’t surprise those who know me to find out that the vast majority of my spiffy travel memories begin their lives in Evernote. Truthfully, most of them never leave.

Sure, Evernote lends itself nicely to organizing travel-related documents—flight and hotel confirmations and the like—and it’s hard to argue that having all such minutiae tucked away inside your smart phone does help one breathe a little easier when trying to herd cats travel with small children.

But the memory capture thing is, if you ask me, a far more compelling Evernote use case for itinerant iPhone operators. If you’ll allow me to present my case…

Continue reading →

Thanks to Gas Cubby from App Cubby

gcBig thanks to Gas Cubby for being this week’s sponsor. This handy app records milage for you, which is fantastic if you’re often taking business trips. I used to use a notebook for this, but I’d either misplace it or forget to transfer a certain trip to my spreadsheet. Not any more, as Gas Cubby lets me export directly to an Excel-friendly format via email.

The app also records your service history and even offers service reminders reminders, which is great. You know those plastic clings that the mechanic puts on your windshield? The ones that always fall off? Forget about them. I won’t forget to get that 7,500 mile checkup done when Gas Cubby reminds me.

The app’s search feature is also well-implemented and there’s ample support for international units, like MPG (Canada), MPG (UK), MPG (Imperial), L/100km, gal/100mi (US), gal/100mi (Imperial), km/L, km/gal (US), km/gal (Imperial), and mi/L, for all of you folks who drive on the wrong side of the road.

Do you like charts and graphs? I know you do. Tilt your iPhone to the landscape orientation and view data on your vehicle’s average MPG, typical gas price you pay, automotive expenses and service expenses. Nice!

Gas Cubby has been in my travel folder for years. It’s fast, good-looking and, most importantly, useful. Go and grab Gas Cubby now.

!Emergency! for iPhone: when trouble strikes abroad

Johnny Jet’s travel app of the week is !Emergency! ($0.99). As Johnny notes, not everyone realizes that “911” isn’t the emergency call number in many countries outside of the US. !Emergency! lists them all, and puts them just a tap away. Not only that, it can automatically detect the country you’re in, so you don’t have to spend precious time searching when something is really wrong. That’s a pretty handy app.

Gas Cubby from App Cubby

gcHuge thanks to Gas Cubby for being this week’s sponsorDavid Barnard and his crew build iOS apps that I’ve been using for years, including Gas Cubby.

Gas Cubby is a fantastic companion to anyone who often travels by car. It records milage for you, which is fantastic if you’re often taking business trips. I used to use a notebook for this, but I’d either misplace it or forget to transfer a certain trip to my spreadsheet. Not any more, as Gas Cubby lets me export directly to an Excel-friendly format via email.

The app also records your service history and even offers service reminders reminders, which is great. You know those plastic clings that the mechanic puts on your windshield? The ones that always fall off? Forget about them. I won’t forget to get that 7,500 mile checkup done when Gas Cubby reminds me.

The app’s search feature is also well-implemented and there’s ample support for international units, like MPG (Canada), MPG (UK), MPG (Imperial), L/100km, gal/100mi (US), gal/100mi (Imperial), km/L, km/gal (US), km/gal (Imperial), and mi/L, for all of you folks who drive on the wrong side of the road.

Do you like charts and graphs? I know you do. Tilt your iPhone to the landscape orientation and view data on your vehicle’s average MPG, typical gas price you pay, automotive expenses and service expenses. Nice!

Gas Cubby has been in my travel folder for years. It’s fast, good-looking and, most importantly, useful. Go and grab Gas Cubby now.

Travel tip: create, send postcards with your iPhone or iPad

Who doesn’t like getting postcards? It’s fun to buy them, too. Turning that rickety, squeaking metal turnstile in some far-away destination. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, a post office can be hard to find. Or, the mail delivery can be unreliable, as my wife and I found out when we beat some postcards home that we had sent from rural Italy. Fortunately, it’s easy and inexpensive to create real-world, paper post cards with your iPhone and send them to family and friends. Here are two apps that do just that, each with its own pros and cons.

Cards (Free)

cards

Apple’s Cards app for iPhone is a great place to start. It lets your create a nice-looking letterpress greeting card that will ship anywhere in the world ($2,99 within the US, $4.99 internationally). I’ve sent a few cards with this app and can vouch for how good they look. It’s very easy to work with, even on the iPhone’s tiny screen.

Pros:

  • Universal, so it looks great on both the iPhone and iPad
  • At least one postcard-style theme included
  • You can customize the picture
  • Write your own greeting

Cons:

  • Option for three photos per card is restricted to holiday-themed cards
  • Keyboard commandeers much of the screen while entering text

Felt (Free)

felt

Felt is an iPad-only app that helps you make and send paper cards to friends and family. It’s very good looking and mimics your own own handwriting on the printed card and envelope. Plus, the iPad’s larger screen makes it very easy to write, which can be done with stylus or your finger. This one is iPad-only, but it looks great.

Pros:

  • Your own handwriting
  • Great-looking results
  • Beautiful UI makes it easy to use

Cons:

  • iPad only
  • Photo not customizable
  • No real postcard-style theme
  • Writing legibly will be difficult or impossible without a stylus.

There are apps to create virtual post card, and they can be fun. But I still like getting a paper one in the mail that I can stick to the ‘fridge. It’s just nicer. I’m old fashioned that way.

Rego for iPhone stores your favorite places

regoforiphoneBig thanks to Rego for iPhone (free for the first 10 places, $2.99 for unlimited use) for sponsoring the site this week. I’ve been using Rego since launch day and it’s earned a spot on my iPhone’s home screen. It lets me create a record of my favorite places, both those I have seen and those I hope to visit someday. With a few taps I can mark it on a map, write some notes, take photos and add useful, searchable categories.

Rego is like a contacts app, but for locations. It has become the place where I store the places I care about. But Rego is more than storage. Before your trip begins, create a new collection and add all the places you want to visit — either by positioning pins on a map, or by searching on names or addresses. Rego searches Apple and Foursquare location databases, and your Contacts. Plan your itinerary by re-centering the map on any pin. For example, set your hotel as the “Active Location” and watch all your places sort by distance to that pin.

While traveling, use Rego to visit the places you planned, and add new places you discover along the way. Rego uses the iPhone’s GPS, so you don’t need Internet coverage to capture new places. Also, in most cases, your maps will have been cached during your planning, so they’ll still be available when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Rego is private by default, but you can selectively choose to share places. This creates a web page for your place on the Rego server, that you can show the world. Other Rego users can directly add that place to their Rego, by visiting the page. I actually like keeping it private, as I use Rego is my personal travel log and wish list.

Don’t take my word for it, Apple loved Rego so much they featured it in the New & Noteworthy list on the App Store home page in 127 countries, and gave it a big banner in the Travel section. It’s truly one of my favorite travel apps.

Here’s how you can sponsor the site. It’s a great month those with travel apps.

The iPhone Traveler Pt. 2 – Back up, pack and get tickets

iphoneandtix

A good vacation, like so many other things in life, will be more successful with ample planning. Your iPhone is more than up to the task! In this section, I’ll explain how to back up important information before you leave (and retrieve it if disaster strikes), pack your things in an orderly way and finally find tickets for a plane, a train and a hotel.

Why use an iPhone for these tasks? There are several reasons. My favorite is the wealth of beautiful, useful and convenient apps that are available. The travel industry has embraced Apple’s pocket-sized computer and we, the travelers, benefit. It’s so very easy to find a hotel, flight or bus when it’s convenient for us. Don’t want to pay a lot? Finding bargains with an app is easy, too. Plus, dedicated apps are so much easier to use than starting from scratch with Google.

Also, skipping email and printed tickets means less “stuff” to carry, loose and accidentally rip or destroy. There’s no fishing for “which pocket or case did I put that in” when the answer is, “It’s just here on my phone.” It’s a tremendous convenience. So, let’s get started by performing a good, reliable backup.

Continue reading →

easyJet for iPhone offers mobile boarding passes, Passbook support

jeteasyappscrnshtThe UK’s discount airline easyJet has added support for Apple’s Passbook and mobile boarding passes to its free iPhone app, easyJet Mobile. This update is a part of the airline’s larger initiative to replace all in-person check-in options with online methods.

For now, six airports — Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nice, London Stansted and Southend — are taking part in a trial. If all goes well, you can expect additional airports to accept iPhone-based checkins from easyJet.

I’ve used the United iPhone app (free) several times to board in Boston’s Logan airport as well as Orlando and Tampa. Pulling out an iPhone is much faster that using a paper boarding pass, not to mention it eliminates one more thing to tear or lose.

I hope this goes well for easyJet and its customers. If you’re in the UK and you’ve tried it, let me know how it goes. Digital boarding passes and check-in is a real time-saver.