As the technological landscape we live among today continues its exponential growth into all the facets of our everyday lives, from the daily work-commute (Uber, Lyft), to wearable-mini-computers (Google Glass, Apple Watch), the travel niche has been subject to a considerable amount of tech innovation as well. GPS-Navs, restaurant-review aggregators, and mobile plane-ticketing apps have become so ubiquitous in the realm of travel tech, that navigating the app store has become a trip within itself, and by most accounts, not the enjoyable kind. With so many travel-app options to choose from when preparing for a trip, it's easy to get lost, even before you touch down on foreign soil.
A few weeks ago, a colleague wrote a wonderful profile on Improving Your Trip with Mobile Travel Technology, and as a follow up of sorts, we have provided a few more app suggestions to round-out your mobile travel toolkit - helping you to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Google Translate: Say Goodbye to Phrase Books
Okay, so we know you've heard of this one, but what you may have not of heard, is that Google Translate just received a monumental update, propelling its usefulness from discretionary-convenience, to an absolute travel essential. The recent update provided two features: real time voice and visual translation. Oh, and as icing on the cake, it works without delay, even when offline - perfect for travelers, who are often without access to an internet connection.
The visual translation feature works when you select the camera option within the Google Translate app, then just point your camera at any road sign, menu, whatever, and it translates the content instantly on your screen. The real time voice translation is even more stunning though, and in essence can act as an intermediary between two people who wish to hold a conversation using different languages. Here's how it works. Tap the in-app mic a single time and start talking in the foreign language first. Once Google Translate recognizes the language (within seconds), tap the in-app mic again and both parties can begin speaking. At this point the app displays text translations of the conversation for both sides - leaping over the language barrier with ease.
At the time of writing, these new updates are limited to 7 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian, though Google plans to expand language support moving forward. Currently, Google Translate is available for free on iOS and Android operating systems.
Facebook at Work: Staying Connected Abroad
As of 2015, Facebook's monthly active use base stands at about 1.35 billion people, a staggering number by any account, but growth has slowed as the addressable demographic of potential-users who aren't already on Facebook continues to decline. In an effort to seize new avenues for expansion, Facebook announced the slow roll-out of their newest service, Facebook at Work. Though it essentially functions just like its "recreational" counterpart, Facebook at Work aims to help you connect to your colleagues instead of friends and family. Small aesthetic changes have been made as well, to differentiate the two, most notably, the color scheme adjustment from blue to white.
For those that find themselves traveling for work, Facebook at Work provides a comprehensive interface to stay connected to your peers, exchange correspondence, and manage projects, all from a single app. As many of us are uncomfortable using our personal Facebook accounts in a work context, Facebook at Work has been designed specifically to cater to a plethora of office-based needs, and for those with privacy concerns, it can be completely disassociated with our personal Facebook accounts.
For now, Facebook at Work is in the final testing stages, available only to select group of partners, but expect a public release on the horizon for both iOS and Android operating systems.
Flo: Driving like a Pro
Flo aims to help us all become better drivers, take better care of our vehicles, and save a buck on fuel. All sounds good, but how? Every time you drive somewhere, Flo automatically records your trip with GPS, and analyzes the data such as, average speed, acceleration, and braking, providing you with real time feedback and tips to maximize efficiency. Points are awarded for safe driving like smooth acceleration and maintaining steady speed, while points are deducted for frantic braking and hard cornering. Using the information provided by Flo, drivers can hone their driving skills with the knowledge that their vehicle is performing under the most ideal conditions for fuel economy and reliability.
In the world of travel, and especially in our specialty, rental cars, Flo is like an extra layer of security and preparedness for driving internationally in parts unknown. Damaging a rental car can be an expensive undertaking, even minor scrapes can cost hundreds of Euros, but with the help of Flo, drivers can guarantee that their doing everything in their power to maintain a top-level of safety.
Flo is currently only available on Android operating systems, but expect an iOS release very soon.
2015 Travel Tech, Ensuring your Best Trip Yet
International travel provides a unique opportunity for cultural exploration and exciting experiences that we would otherwise never encounter, and thanks to the constant evolution of travel technology, more and more people are able to engage in worldly travel with relative ease and affordability. Before embarking on your next adventure abroad, stack up on these essential travel apps, you'll be blown away by not only their ease of use, but also how seamlessly they can integrate into your travel routine - after one use of Google Translate, you'll never buy a phrase book again.
After a healthy perusing of your respective app store, check out Auto Europe's many travel offers - bringing you the most competitive rates on hotel rooms, airfare, and of course, car rentals worldwide. When you're ready to book, give us a call at 1-888-223-5555, where our travel-savvy agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience.