Essential Treo Travel Applications
I just got back home today and now that I’ve had a chance to list all the accessories that I was carrying with me during my trip to San Francisco I thought that I should also cover the software side of things.
Leaving aside the basic phone, email and SMS capabilities that I obviously used extensively every day, there were a number of other applications which came in more than handy while I was there. These included:
When you’re away from home whether it is for business or holidays you will obviously be eating out pretty much all the time and finding a restaurant to suit your tastes or a particular occasion will feature high on the agenda. Vindigo ($24.95/Year) is a service that works well in this context not only to find locations (I had over 1,500 choose from) but also to ‘save and/or rate’ restaurants that you’ve already been to or that friends or colleagues may have recommended.
My favourite, trusted and recently updated Treo alarm featuring MP3 playback was absolutely essential to get me awake and out of bed in the morning after the many late nights in SF… Since I’m not a morning person the fact that I can use Bob’s Alarm ($9.50) to wake up to my favourite tunes instead of some deafening beeping sound makes a huge difference to my early mood. Additionally, I have found it to be by far the easiest to setup – particularly if you will be waking up at a different time every morning.
Full review: Alarming your Treo
I can’t say that I made extensive use of this functionality but on a couple of occasions it was useful to find the number and location of a store when I had gotten lost. I tested two applications: Handmark Express ($69.99/Year) and InfoMan ($39.99/Year). The great thing about Express’ application is that you can do a business search and then either save the full details in your contacts, dial the number or download a map of its location. However, it uses up to 2MB of memory… InfoMan provides the same data without the maps but I found this to be a terrific, well designed and extremely easy to use application. The alternative to these – albeit a slightly slower one – is Google local (www.google.com/local) or Google SMS (www.google.com/sms) [Thanks Dan].
Doing the mental arithmetic when the rate of exchange or amount are rounded numbers is easy but I made more than a few mistakes by not using the easy currency converter that comes built-in to InfoMan… This version is particularly good because in sharp contrast to WorldMate’s, for example, the ‘amount’ is always highlighted and ready to be changed which saves a few otherwise painful ‘usability’ seconds. InfoMan’s complete list of world currencies will undoubtedly prove useful again in the future.
There are about a dozen applications that provide weather information on your Treo and I have yet to find a single one that I consider to be perfect or even near that. While I keep looking, InfoMan’s summary and detailed weather information is more than adequate.
Two things that were missing from my travel application kit were a GPS solution which I would really like to add shortly and also a simple ‘packing list’ for my Treo to replace the one that I currently have in an MS Word document and which I typically print out and tick before leaving.
Finally, although I am generally happy with all of the above listed applications it is becoming painfully obvious that by-and-large most PalmOS developers still have a significant learning curve to climb in order to make applications that are useful, easy, attractive and more importantly Treo-optimized. I have generally not made a huge fuss about this in the past but I think that I’ll be using a much finer comb in the future…
UPDATE: Thanks Kirk for pointing me to the free FlightStatus which like its name indicates is an application to wirelessly receive live arrival and departure flight information for ALL major world airlines and also the aircraft model. The only thing you need to know is the flight number + airline and all relevant information will be updated at the push of a button. This is an absolutely amazing and simple application which has incredibly been developed by a 14 year old also named Andrew – I can’t wait to see what he’ll do when he grows up…
UPDATE2: Thanks Aaron for sharing his experience with the Navman Wireless Bluetooth GPS solution ($161) which apparently has worked very well for him. I will definitely evaluate this GPS unit in the next couple of weeks along with similar ones from TomTom, Garmin (last two not yet released) and EMTAC.
UPDATE3: At long last I have now finally also been able to experience and review the fabulous benefits of using a GPS solution with my Treo – absolutely amazing.
Treonauts are particularly productive on the go…