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Kate Russell’s Tech Traveller

Technology reporter Kate Russell is a pro at finding the best websites and apps to recommend to viewers of BBC Click (and us!). Check out her site Mywebdaily.com or tweet her @katerussell

Published October 31, 2012
By Kate Russell

Check out her site Mywebdaily.com or tweet her @katerussell

Instant messaging

We’re now more likely to send a text message than pick up the phone, according to a recent Ofcom study. But what are the options when you’re overseas?

Instant-messenger apps use very little data, making these conversations much cheaper than SMS texts, or even free on a wi-fi connection. For straightforward messaging, WhatsApp is a good choice, available free across all platforms including some non-smartphones.

If you use Skype for free calls, download the cross-platform smartphone apps for a nifty texting feature to connect you on-the-go. If your contacts are scattered across several different services, you’ll benefit from a tool that supports different platforms, allowing you to connect to everyone through one central control panel. eBuddy is a good solution available on a range of platforms which supports MSN, Yahoo!, AIM, Gtalk, ICQ, Hyves and Facebook.

As eBuddy has around a billion users, there’s a good chance people you meet on holiday will have an account. Instead of giving them your phone number, why not connect through Facebook? That way, at least you can block them when you get home if it all goes horribly wrong.
www.whatsapp.com  www.skype.com  www.ebuddy.com

Online traveller: Thinking big

Planning a big trip with a group of friends? Take advantage of this trio of sites, designed to let your getaway go without a hitch

www.friendfund.com
Big family getaways can be a lot of fun for most of us, but a bit of a nightmare for the elected treasurer. Take the pressure off with FriendFund.com, an all-or-nothing social collection tool allowing you to invite friends to contribute to a particular financial goal, only taking the funds from their accounts once the final target has been reached. Think along the lines of a ‘private Kickstarter’ with fewer zeros.

www.memonic.com
Struggling to agree upon a destination? A web-clipping tool such as Memonic can make things a lot easier by inviting a group of collaborators to add their own web clippings to a single collection. Once everyone has had a chance to add links to any of the trips or hotels they want to be considered, the group can then review all the options in one place before finally making the crucial decision.

www.findstufftodo.com
This clever search engine gets to know your likes and dislikes, and applies knowledge to your location by adding a couple of geeky ingredients, including local weather conditions, before giving you the lowdown on activities you might like in the area. It’s perfect if you have a large group to keep entertained. The browser version enables you to plan ahead, build an itinerary and buy tickets with a free iPhone app.

WE LOVE...

www.safeknight.org Even the hardiest of travellers feel vulnerable at times. Take a photo with this app and it will be sent, with your location details, to a secure server ready to be released to the authorities in the event of an emergency. Yes, it’s a morbid thought, but this app is well worth the 69p. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Nokia.

Four of the best road-trip apps

Tripit
Travellers can use this free app to plan and track their sightseeing tours. Share trips with your friends, as well as keeping track of your frequent-flyer miles and reservations. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7. Free. www.tripit.com

Waze
A free social GPS navigation app using crowd-sourced data to show real-time fuel prices as well as driving directions for filling stations en route. It also provides traffic info and even discount offers at the pump. iPhone, Android. Free. www.waze.com

Foodspotting
This is a free app to help you find the best local dishes on your travels. Upload photos of delicious meals to create a scrapbook with location tags so others can enjoy them too. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7. Free. www.foodspotting.com

Hotel Tonight
If you need a last-minute hotel, this app handpicks rooms across the price spectrum. While the choice isn’t huge, the discounts are impressive. Covers mainly US and UK cities but is extending all the time. Android, iPhone. Free. www.hoteltonight.com

 

Published in Nov/Dec 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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