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Smartphones and touchscreen devices are an essential part of travel today. For those of us old enough to remember a pre-digital age it astonishes me sometimes just how much power these little pocket-sized gadgets pack. I read somewhere that today’s average smartphone is millions of times more powerful than the whole of NASA’s computing power in 1969, and they were putting men on the moon back then. It’s no wonder then that we can do so much with them beyond simply calling home from a different timezone to boast about the gorgeous weather in Florida.
I carry the iPhone 8+ these days which I love. Mostly because of the large screen size but also because of the amazing camera it has. It does have its rivals that I know have equally good (sometimes better) specs but one of the reasons I got this phone was because it was the first smartphone to shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second. I understand this is because of its A11 Bionic chip which is as insanely powerful as Steve Austin (see what I did there? Millenials won’t have a clue).
So I have an amazing smartphone but how am I going to get the best out of it. There are a ton of apps you can use to enhance some of its features such as the camera but there is also a lot you can use to make your holiday that little bit more fun, more organised and more memorable.
Here are some of the apps I ensure are uploaded prior to my travels.
If like me, you enjoy shooting video clips when you are on holiday then I highly recommend using Filmic Pro. It’s a very advanced video camera for mobiles phones. You may be thinking, but I already have a built-in camera/video app on my phone. Yes, most modern smartphones do and they are good to a point. Filmic Pro gives you a lot more options for video format and quality and better control over things like focus, exposure and white balance. I have only scratched the surface with the app and to list all its capabilities would take up too much space here but already I have seen a vast improvement in my admittedly amateurish video clips.
How organised are you? Like keeping lists? OneNote is a digital note-taking app. I use it to keep together a range of different information. I find it particularly handy when planning cruise holidays. You can create different notebooks for a whole range of projects. I have one for travel of course. Within that notebook, I have tabs for each upcoming cruise with pages for itineraries, packing lists, flight confirmations, hotel reservation details, Port guides etc. You can sync to your mobile and add stuff on there. It’s very versatile and most importantly easy to use. Super handy.
No self-respecting traveller would be without Trip Advisor and I am sure most of you readers are already familiar with it. Hotels, Restaurants, things to do? All displayed in an easily understandable format. You can leave your own reviews as well as access thousands of other travellers experiences. A must have.
I will admit that when it comes to photography I am pretty much a point and shoot kinda guy. Mobile phone cameras are now so good that although they will never be as good as a dedicated compact or high end DSLR you can still get some amazing photos from them. Like video mode, your phone will have its own in-house camera app but if you really want push what it can do to the max then I can highly recommend Pro Camera. One of the weaknesses of a mobile phone camera is low light conditions. This app has an amazing lowlight setting so you can capture stunning photos in low light. For an additional in-app purchase you can opt for lowlight+ which is even better for those moonlit evenings.
I’m not sure if this app is any better than some others but I love Yahoo weather for its pure simplicity and it is gorgeous looking too. Simple to add other cities and places. I always add port stops on upcoming cruises just so I know what to expect…and what to pack as it can give you up to 10 days forecast.
When travelling I would suggest using two methods of storing your photos. Physical and Cloud-based. A memory card is a great way to store physical photos. I always take a couple of USB flash drives to back up my photos and videos but I also like save them to the cloud and for that, I use Google Photos. Google Photos organises your photos and videos. It makes it easy to share and, very importantly, automatically backs up your entire image library to the cloud. From there, it seamlessly syncs to all your devices where the app is installed. So that’s Apple phones, Android Devices, laptops, desktops and of course tablets. It also makes it very easy to share photos with family and friends. Ideal for making them jealous back home. Google photos has two storage settings. High Quality and Original Quality. The High-Quality setting will give you unlimited backup for photos and videos up to 16MP and 1080p HD which is more than adequate for the average traveller. You can opt to save photos and video in their original quality but this would firstly eat into your free 15GB allowance once that is exceeded there is a tiered price plan for extra space. Currently £1.59 per month for 100GB and then £7.99 for 1TB and £79.99 for 10TB although I can’t imagine anyone but serious photo and videographers needing that much space.
I used to use Dropbox a lot for saving multiple file types and its still very good for that purpose but I now use Google Drive which is very similar but has the added bonus of working in tandem with Google Photos. Another tip is downloading and saving things such as the PDFs for my compact camera. Saves carrying the booklet itself on holiday or trying to find on a website whilst away.
Crossing different time zones can screw with your circadian rhythms for sure. Klok’s very easy to use and customisable menu keeps your timelines straight. I always add Manchester as my hometown as well as the first destination airport location and then all the ships ports of call before I travel. That way you’re not scratching your head or having to turn on the ships TV to find the current time where you are.
Using your phone number and internet connection, you can send messages for free, crossing international lines and working with many platforms such as IOS, Android etc. All you need is a small amount of data.
I’m a huge fan of this little app. Not least because its very easy to use but before I travel anywhere I open the map up, scroll to the countries or cities I am going to visit and then zoom in. It then prompts me to download the map for the particular area. I find this very handy for when I am at sea and looking ahead to the next port of call. I don’t need wifi to zoom in again and highlight places of interest. We like to do a lot of walking when we visit interesting ports, particularly in the med, so I plan little walking routes using this app.
Which apps would you recommend? There are so many to use these days that I am always finding more but it’s nice to know which have been tried and tested and come recommended by fellow cruisers.