By Terry Gardner, Special to Tribune Newspapers
7:30 PM EDT, May 7, 2013
CheapAir (Free for iOS – requires iOS 4.3 and above)
What it is: A flight-search app that lets you speak your flight searches. Chief executive Jeff Klee said his company wanted to help travelers book a flight without having to type too much info on the iPhone's small screen.
How it works: After launching the app, state your departure city and destination and travel dates. For example, when I said: "Los Angeles to Dallas, Sept. 5 to 8," the app showed me a slew of flight options for those dates. You also can speak your destination and let the app use your phone's GPS to locate you and offer a choice of departure airports. CheapAir plans to develop an Android version.
Why it's great: The iPhone's small screen can make typing a pain, so this app's verbal search feature makes it much easier to book flights on your iPhone. Flight searches also detail in-flight amenities, including Wi-Fi and entertainment. There's a "classic search" option with which you type in the details rather than speaking them, which is helpful when searching for flights in a public place such as an airport or coffee shop.
Why you might hesitate: No reason, but I hope a future update will allow users to speak their billing and payment info rather than having to type those details into their device.
Vitals (Free for iOS)
What it is: An app to find medical care while traveling in states where you may not have a friend to recommend a doctor.
How it works: The app uses your phone's GPS to search for the kind of doctor you need, which you type in the search field. Or you can type in a destination where you are heading if you think you'll need a doctor while visiting. Insurance information is stored by taking a photo of your health insurance card. The app requires a data connection.
Why it's great: It's easy to catch a cold and other illnesses on a trip, so it's handy to have an app to help you find a good doctor. The app includes info about wait times, whether the doctor spends time with patients, accuracy of diagnosis and other info contained in patient reviews on Yelp and the Vitals.com website. There are filters to narrow a search based on your health insurance, whether the doctor is board certified, etc.
Why you might hesitate: The app covers only U.S. states and doesn't include a list where you can note your medical history or prescription allergies.
Quilt (Free for iOS and Android)
What it is: An app for creating an individual or group blog of memories as you make them on a trip. The app requires a data connection for you to share pictures and texts across your own private network with family, fellow passengers, friends back home, etc.
How it works: You create a "quilt," or blog, for a particular trip, then invite others to participate by contributing posts or by subscribing to your quilt.
Why it's great: It's a wonderful way to create a group scrapbook and easily share photos, video and comments via Twitter, Facebook, email and text messages. For anyone who journals about trips, Quilt is a great tool for taking notes on the fly. If you want to write a Quilt post from a laptop or a desktop computer, you can access your quilt via the app's website at qui.lt.
Why you might hesitate: You dislike social media. But even at that, Quilt helps you capture memories in real time during a trip, and you can email links to posts.
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