Well, it happened. After years of complaining about my Blackberry (and questioning my loyalty to a non-sentient device), I finally made the switch. Hello, iPhone, I’m pleased to join your legions of fans. Now that I’ve finally joined the 21st century, I’m also getting up to speed regarding the best browsers and apps for iPhones and Androids. I interviewed Mahi De Silva, Opera Software’s Consumer Mobile expert, about the top 10 best apps for holiday travel for iPhones and other mobile devices, as well as the benefits of using Opera as a mobile browser.
You’ve collected your 10 favorite apps for holiday travel. What makes these particularly useful for holiday travel?
This is a well-rounded list that addresses travelers’ greatest needs during the holidays: keeping roaming costs down while staying informed, housed and entertained during the trip. For browsing, Opera is faster and cheaper (important with both expensive roaming costs and the end of unlimited data plans) for finding information. The list should complement the apps users already rely on.
Opera’s Top 10 Apps for Holiday Travel
1. Opera Mini Browser. Opera Mini browsers compress data to use just ten percent bandwidth of other mobile browsers options – reducing image data size, unnecessary formatting, text encoding and more. What this means – a faster mobile experience and a lower monthly bill! Cost: Free
2. Gowalla. Gowalla is a local travel guide complete with recommendations from experts and suggestions from friends on what to do and where to go in 60 different cities. Cost: Free
3. Foodspotting. This one lets you find & rate dishes instead of just restaurants. Find dish recommendations from foodspotters, friends & experts. Cost: Free
4. Sit or Squat. Need to go to the bathroom, and you can’t wait? Enough said, use the Sit or Squat app. Cost: Free
5. Gas Buddy. Gas Buddy shows you the least expensive gas station wherever you are and is particularly great if you don’t know the area (US and Canada only) Cost: Free
6. Pulse. Use Pulse to read the news you want from traditional sources, your favorite blogs and social networks. Cost: Free
7. Flight View. When you’re traveling, it’s important to know the status of your flight. Delayed? How long? Flight View lets you check arrivals, departures, parking, weather and more. Cost: Pricing varies from free to $3.99 based on your mobile phone
8. Hotel Tonight. Already at your destination and need a hotel in a pinch? With Hotel Tonight book hotels the same day for up to 70% off in most major cities and airports. Cost: Free
9. Accuweather. To find out what the weather is now or what it’s going to be like at your travel destination from where are now, try the Accuweather app. Cost: Free
10. Spotify. Get access to millions of songs for free with Spotify. You can also share the songs you are listening to and love easily through your social network. Cost: Free
Do you have any travel-related apps that you really like that are generally helpful, not just in terms of easing the stress of holiday travel?
Instead of paying exorbitant fees for navigation equipment with a rental car, I use MapQuest on my iPhone, which has turn-by-turn audio — and it’s free! In the U.S. I use OpenTable to find and make reservations at nice restaurants, Yelp and UrbanSpoon to find recommendations for inexpensive eats. I also use ForeFlight and TripTracker for flight information and notifications of changes to my flights. HopStop for subway directions in NYC and London, Expensify to help with expense reports and Unit Conversion for converting anything including currency, distance, time and units of measure.
The Opera Mini is extremely popular for smartphones. What makes it superior for mobile tech?
Opera Mini for iPhone and Android devices is great for a few reasons: speed, cost savings and ease of use. First, since Opera Mini compresses data up to 90 percent, it’s lightning fast since only a fraction of the data which other browsers would use is actually used by Opera Mini. This also means that Opera is up to 90 percent cheaper since users only pay 10 percent of the data other mobile browsers would typically use. This feature becomes especially useful while traveling to cut down on extravagant roaming data charges.
What’s more, Opera Mini has a feature called Opera Link, a simple way to make browser information such as your bookmarks and speed dial consistent and available from any device with Opera — be they computer, mobile device, or tablet. Opera Mini also has easy to use “Share” features, enabling quick sharing of content with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
What iPhone or Android app do you wish existed or are most looking forward to?
An app that would tell you what a reasonable cab fare for a trip in a foreign city would be great.
It’s true that Opera Mini is the web’s most popular mobile browser. The iPhone browser is a close second, but sheesh — Blackberry’s browser is practically not even a contender. To best control my own mobile data usage while traveling, I’m going to switch to Opera Mini. Thanks, Mahi, for helping with my steep learning curve. Guess I’ll go load in some of those top 10 best travel apps, too.