As the number of apps. in the iTunes store has continued to grow, the iPhone has become an essential travel tool. While Eliss, Stanza and Articles keep me entertained and informed, the following are the iPhone applications that I consider essential tools in my travels around Asia.
Inspired by the wrist watch designs of Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs, D-Clock is an analogue watch with alarm and calendar, which maintains in software, the simplicity and function of the original designers work. It has all the usual alarm setting and sounds but I love how you set the clock and alarm by moving the hands. Very intuitive. I have a thing for clocks on the iPhone and this is thus far my favorite.
It’s not foolproof, public access points can disappear quickly, but this saves me from wasting a ton of time ‘war-walking‘ when I’ve landed in a part of the city where I haven’t previously scoped out free wi-fi. With more than 300,000 locations in 140 countries, Jiwire finds WiFi hotspots wherever you go. Very useful, especially when you want to avoid roaming charges.
Between the Central Weather Bureau, the New York Times, and Accuweather.com’s great iPhone app, I get just about all the weather coverage I could possible need. But I’m a sucker for elegant text based interfaces and slight attempts at humor which is why Simple weather is now my favorite means of finding out how it’s going to feel when I step outside in the morning. The main screen displays the current local weather conditions while sliding the screen to the left reveals a 3 day forecast 1 day at a time.
Simple Weather for iPhone (links to web but will open iTunes)
Just how much am I losing at the money exchange counter? I’ve used the xe website for years for quick currency rates so it only seems natural to use this service in the convenience of an iPhone app. The XE currency app can monitor up to ten currencies in any order, provide up-to-the-minute mid-market rates online and list latest updated rates offline.
iTranslate is essentially an iPhone app. front end to Google translate with rather predictable results. Don’t expect this to replace a guide or the long arduous task of learning the local language but in a pinch it works. My language geek colleagues might snicker but iTranslate has proven useful on more than a couple occasions, saving me from culinary disaster and smooth out transactions. It’s free but relies on a data connection so watch those 3G roaming charges.
If I have time I use the “explore a particular neighbourhood, look for the longest line” method of restaurant selection. Othertimes it’s nice to have a little help, enter buUuk, an iPhone restaurant finder focusing on Asia. BuUuk can be considered the local equivalent of apps Urbanspoon or Around Me, but covering the places I frequent: Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok are fairly well represented. Whenever I get off the SMRT buUuk automatically detects my location and shows me places to eat. Neat!