Several days ago, the Apple iPad got some attention from us with an overview of its best travel apps – and today we take a look at the best in free travel apps for the Android platform. Launched in September 2008, Android has seen an astounding growth, and has made its way onto phones from almost every major manufacturer and almost every mobile operator.
Recently, Gadling showed why we think Android is the future of smartphones, and the best pick for travelers. So, if you have an Android powered device, check out these free apps that can make traveling easier.
A gallery with barcode download links to all these apps can be found at the bottom of this article – just download the Android Barcode Scanner and point your phone at the special QR code, and it’ll take you to directly to the Market download link.
Kayak is a real personal favorite of mine – mainly because it does so much in a single app. Within Kayak for Android, you get access to flights, hotels, car rentals, flight status, airline information, flight price trends and more – all in a free app. Think of Kayak as your Swiss Army travel tool set.
The app even offers integration with Kayak.com, offering instant access to saved trips.
Transport maps is one of the least good looking apps in this lineup – but it does one thing really well – provide worldwide maps of public transit systems. The app covers 100′s of bus, train, tram and light rail networks, and maps can be downloaded before your trip and saved locally on your device, reducing data costs.
Sadly, it lacks route planning, so you’ll need to know how to read a map and determine where you are when you use the app.
We mentioned this brand new app yesterday – and it really does deserve a spot in this list. StayHIP is the first mobile app designed specifically for hotel reservations at boutique properties. Forget finding the same old chain hotels – let StayHIP find you a chic, intimate or hip hotel and get away from the ordinary.
Google Goggles has quickly become my absolute favorite app to play with on my phone. Think of Goggles as Google search, using your camera. Point your phone at a product, and Google Goggles will search for it, and provide product links.
Do the same with foreign languages (French, Italian, German and Spanish), and it’ll provide an instant translation – all without having to touch your keyboard. This is obvious fantastic for quick translations of signs or anything else you encounter on the road.
Need a cab? Let Taxi Magic pull up your location, along with a list of all available cab companies in your area. Some companies even support instant reservations through the app – others just offer a phone link. The app has helped me over and over again when I find myself in need of a cab
because I’m too drunk to stumble back to my hotel.
Yelp is the grandaddy of travel friendly apps. Use Yelp to find food, drinks, stores and more – and get feedback on the location from fellow Yelp users.
No longer will you have to suffer through a horrible dinner – simply avoid anything with poor ratings, and stick to the top rated locations. Best of all, Yelp offers instant access to things like the address, prices and opening hours, which lets you stay clear of flash heavy restaurant sites.
XE Currency conversion
XE.com is one of the best currency calculators on the web – and their Android mobile app makes access to live currency rates even easier. Simply refresh the current rates, and calculate whether that fantastic pair of jeans or new iPod really is much cheaper than it is back home.
Google Maps with navigation
Android phones running Android versions 1.6 and newer get access to Google maps with navigation. The application is powerful enough to be a full replacement for your GPS unit – but it will require access to a data connection to receive its maps – it can’t store maps locally.
Still, free is always a good thing, and best of all – Google maps with navigation lets you get directions specifically for driving, walking, public transit or cycling.
Hotels Near Me
StayHIP a little too hip for you? Hotels Near Me offers a more generic search system of hotels in your area. Simply enter your location, or let it detect where you are using GPS – and it’ll provide a list of all hotels in your vicinity.
Sort by star rating, price, distance and more – and read a description of hotel amenities, guest reviews and room prices. Then, complete the entire booking process right inside the app.
Where is the kind of app that can make you feel less like a stranger – no matter where you are. Let Where pick up your location, and it’ll offer the weather, news, local coupons, events, gas prices and more. Inside the app, you even get quick access to the Yellow Pages, for those rare emergencies where you really need a locksmith, doctor or worse…