By Terry Gardner, Special to Tribune Newspapers
6:36 PM EST, November 5, 2013
(Free for iOS and Android)
What it is: An app to book a shared ride to or from the airport on Super Shuttle or a private ride on ExecuCar. Super Shuttle serves more than 60 U.S. airports, including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Orlando, Tampa, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles. You also can book a ride to airports near Paris and Cancun, Mexico.
How it works: You launch the app and book a one-way or round trip to or from the airport.
Why it's great: The app makes it easy to book Super Shuttle or ExecuCar. You save $2 by booking via the app or online, because Super Shuttle charges $2 for phone reservations. The "Where's my vehicle?" feature shows you where your van is and provides a time estimate until pickup when you are going to the airport. Super Shuttle says the app eventually will have this feature for rides from the airport. You can easily enter credit card info, discount codes and frequent-flier info to score miles or points on Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United and US Airways.
Why you might hesitate: There's an occasional glitch with the saved-credit-card feature that requires you to re-enter information.
(Free for iOS and Android phones)
What it is: A popular app for customizing and sharing photos and videos across social networks including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare and email.
How it works: You launch Instagram and shoot a photo or video for sharing, or you import an image or a video as long as 15 seconds. You then fine-tune images and video with custom filters before sharing. When the app is first installed, you must give it permission to access your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.
Why it's great: If you are active on social media, Instagram makes it easy to craft a single post to share an image or video over multiple social networks. It's time-consuming to craft individual tweets and updates. Even if you only want to share images by email, Instagram offers 19 custom filter effects that can turn a snapshot into an artsy image. The video feature includes built-in stabilization that really improves video on the fly. I wish it could steady imported videos too.
Why you might hesitate: Videos are limited to 15 seconds. The Viddy and YouTube apps let you share longer videos.
(Free for iOS)
What it is: An app to find, interview and book a dog-sitter in most large U.S. cities. Booking through the app provides complimentary pet insurance and round-the-clock customer support.
How it works: You provide details about your dog and upload a photo. After searching for sitters nearby, you can propose a meet and greet or ask questions via the app. I'm a cat owner, so I used Athena, my niece, to test the app for her dog. When a question was asked, a response came in less than 24 hours.
Why it's great: This app makes it easy to find a good dog-sitter. Filters sort sitters by their availability on your vacation dates, recommendations, the size of their home and yard, price, whether or not they have dogs, etc. Some sitters offer to let you Skype with your pet. Several sitters note that they also watch cats and other animals. The app promises a response in 24 to 72 hours. Some of these sitters sound like so much fun that your dog may have a better vacation than you do.
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