Orbitz Releases iPad-Optimized App For Flights, Hotels And Rental Cars

Orbitz For iPadTravel-booking service Orbitz had released an update to their popular iOS app, bringing full iPad optimization to Apple’s tablet for the first time. The new version of the app now runs at the iPad’s native screen resolution and taps into the device’s more powerful processor to provide faster search results to consumers. The app also presents users with special mobile-only discounts that aren’t available through the company’s traditional web portal.

Much like the former iPhone-only version, the new app lets users find and book discounted flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. The search results are then displayed on the larger iPad screen allowing travelers to compare the details of different flight options or view hotels in both a list and map view. These features help make the search process much easier and simply aren’t possible on the smaller screen of a smartphone.

Streamlined searching of travel options isn’t the only thing the app brings to the table. It also allows travelers to save their itineraries for offline viewing and even adds important dates and times to the iPad’s built-in calendar. Additionally, it will provide updated information on flight delays or gate changes and grants access to exclusive deals for hotel rooms, often at as much as 50 percent off the normal price.

In celebration of the release of the new iPad app, Orbitz is giving away a trip for two to Chicago. The contest winner will receive first-class, round-trip airfare and two nights stay at the swanky Peninsula Chicago hotel. To enter to win, just visit the Orbitz Facebook page.

And to download the new iPad version of the app hit the App Store.

[Photo Credit: Orbitz]

Delta’s New ‘Fly Delta’ App Lets You See The World Under Your Airplane


Ever dream of flying in a glass bottom jet? That technology may not yet be available, but Delta Air Lines‘ new iPad app might just be the best simulation.

The Fly Delta app for iPad was released yesterday as part of Delta’s new $140 million commitment to technology, which includes upgrades to its website, mobile apps and airport kiosks. The app includes new tools to ease the travel experience, from booking your flight to advance check-in to figuring out what’s next on your itinerary.

But the app’s most exciting feature is the “Glass Bottom Jet,” which allows passengers connected to Delta’s in-flight Wi-Fi service to view visuals of the ground below the aircraft, enhanced with maps, social networks and Internet content. Read about the history of Mount Rushmore as you fly through South Dakota, check out photos of the Grand Canyon over Nevada or reach out to friends as you pass their homes. For geography geeks, it’s a pretty nifty way to pass time in flight.

An improved Fly Delta app for iPhone was also released yesterday, which includes iPhone 5 support and integration with Apple’s Passbook feature. An improved Android app is scheduled to be released later this year.

[Photo Credit: Delta]

GeoEx iPad App Brings Travel Catalog Into The 21st Century

The GeoEx iPad app puts their entire cataglog in your hands digitallyFor more than 30 years, Geographical Expeditions, or GeoEx as they are more commonly known, has been at the forefront of adventure travel. Since its founding in a tent on the Tibetan Plateau back in 1982, the company has been focused on providing the best travel experiences possible and as a result, it now offers itineraries to 150 countries and to all seven continents. With that pioneering spirit in mind, it should come as no surprise that the company is also charting new paths in the digital age. GeoEx has recently taken the eco-conscious, not to mention very convenient, step to release its latest catalog as an iPad app.

This high-tech approach to introducing travelers to all the options that GeoEx offers brings some fantastic innovations to the humble travel catalog we all know and love. For instance, in addition to the fantastic text that describes each and every trip in detail, the app is filled with beautiful, high-quality images. Those images have a small camera icon attached to them and touching that icon opens a window that provides captions and photo credits. A similar looking suitcase icon along the margin of the page reveals the trip’s daily itinerary while a magnifying glass provides more detailed information about the trip. Various animal icons are also sprinkled throughout the catalog as well and tapping one shows trip highlights for kids. That last option is especially helpful for parents planning a family escape that will appeal to all ages.

Navigating through the catalog is a breeze as on-screen icons allow readers to quickly jump to any page in the book or backtrack through previous pages no matter which order they’ve been viewed. I especially enjoyed the ability to mark a trip as a “favorite,” which made it a snap to find them again when I wanted review options for upcoming trips.

The new GeoEx iPad app is a fun way to discover new travel options or simply dream about your next adventure. It is absolutely free to download and you’ll love flipping through its virtual pages while plotting your next escape.

[Photo Credit: GeoEx]

Video Games With A Refugee

“Are you American?”

The little boy with the big brown eyes was sitting at the couch next to mine in the lobby of my hotel in Najaf, Iraq. He was dressed in jeans, a button-down shirt and sneakers. He peered at me over the edge of his iPad. I looked up from my email.

“No, I’m Canadian. You Iraqi?”

“I’m Lebanese but I live in Syria. We move back to Lebanon now.”

“Your English is good.”

“I go to the international school.” He held up his iPad. “I’m looking for games.”

“You find any good ones?” I asked, smiling.

“Yeah, you want to play?”

There was something about this kid that reminded me of my own son. Maybe it was the obsession with video games. Maybe it was because he was bilingual. Maybe it was because I was missing my son so much.

“Sure,” I said.

He came over to my couch and plopped down beside me. I logged off my email and put away my laptop. He shook my hand – an oddly adult gesture – and told me his name was Mohammad and that he was 9 years old.

“I’ve been to Syria,” I told him. “I liked it a lot. Where are you from in Syria?”

“Sayyida Zainab. Want to see it? It’s on Youtube.”

“Sure.”

Then he showed me this video – bodies wrapped in bloodstained sheets being buried in a mass grave.

“They’re dead,” he said in a low voice.

I couldn’t think of what to say. This kid was 9 and this was his reality. I’ve spent the past seven years protecting my son from the ugliness of the world. Mohammad’s dad probably did the same thing until his country fell apart. After a moment I turned the video off.

“Don’t watch that, it’s sad,” I told him.

“OK. Want to play some games?”

The speed with which his mood changed shocked me. I was still numb from what I had seen.

“Sure, Mohammad. Let’s play some games.”

Yes, Mohammad, be a kid.

He’d downloaded a bunch of free apps. We played one where Obama and Romney shoot ping pong balls at each other. I played Obama and won. It was close, though. Mohammad was obviously experienced at video games.

One of the hotel employees passed by.

“See that man?” Mohammad said. “I hate him. He do this to me to tease me.”

He crossed his eyes. Suddenly I felt protective. Some guy was teasing Mohammad? For a moment it felt like someone had teased my own son.”Can you do that?” he asked.

I crossed my eyes and wiggled my nostrils at him. He smiled.

“My brother can move his ears.”

“I can’t do that. Can you do this?” I rolled my tongue. He did the same.

We searched for more apps as the massacre at Sayyida Zainab replayed in my mind. One app took my photo and Mohammad used a razor to shave me bald. Then we played a game where a cat and dog throw bones at each other over a fence. I tried to let him win while he tried to let me win. I eventually won at letting him win. To assuage his sense of Arab hospitality he fetched me tea. Then we played a parking game.

“My father had a car but somebody take,” Mohammad said, his voice going low again.
I flashed back to the video. What else did his family lose as they fled Syria?

He wasn’t so good at parking. He kept hitting other cars. Eventually he gave up and got onto the app store to look for more games. One ad showed a woman in a bikini. He put his hand over it.

“Don’t look, it’s bad,” he told me.

“OK.”

Mohammad’s two teenaged sisters, jeans showing under their abayas, sat at another couch nearby and occasionally added to the conversation from a distance. They told me they’re on pilgrimage here. Najaf and the nearby city of Karbala are sacred to Shia Muslims. I was here seeing the same shrines.

“How long you stay in Najaf?” Mohammad asked me.

“I leave tomorrow.”

His face fell.

“Oh. Let’s play another game,” he said.

“OK, Mohammad.”

My group was already gathering to visit the local shrine of Imam Ali, which Mohammad’s family had already visited. They were soon headed off to Karbala.

“You’ll love Karbala,” I told him. “The shrine is very beautiful.” Like Syria used to be, I wanted to add.

“You not going to Karbala again?” he asked.

“No. Sorry, Mohammad.”

Everyone was boarding the bus now. Reluctantly I got up and said goodbye. Mohammad looked sad.

“Keep practicing those games, kid,” I said, forcing a smile.

Then I got on the bus and never saw him again.

Sometimes you meet people on your travels that stick with you long after you say goodbye. The 9-year-old boy who likes video games and survived a massacre is going to stick with me for a long time – that and the fact that a couple of those bodies were smaller than he is.

Don’t miss the rest of my series, “Destination: Iraq,” chronicling my 17-day journey across this strife-ridden country in search of adventure, archaeology, and AK-47s.

Coming up next: “Visiting The Sacred Sites Of Shia Islam!”

Explore 2000 Years Of History On 3-D Map Of Paris

Explore Paris in 3D over 2000 years of historyHistory buffs and virtual travelers have a new Internet time sink that is sure to kill hours at a time. Dassault Systèmes, a company that specializes in making unique 3-D virtual reality simulations is painstakingly recreating the city of Paris using their advanced computer modeling systems. But not content just to show the City of Lights in its current form, the company is recreating it at various stages throughout history, allowing us to explore how it evolved and grew over time.

The virtual city, which can be accessed by clicking here, traces the origins of Paris back to the Roman conquest in 52 B.C. Over the centuries it developed into one of the largest and most vibrant cities on the planet and all of that plays out here in this digital model, which lets you select from several different eras. Landmarks such as Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower pop into the landscape as time passes, giving us an unprecedented look at a living city that changed over the ages to meet the needs of its citizens.

Paris 3D can be explored from a web browser and requires the user to download a special plug-in to make it work. I had a few issues getting it to run on my Mac using Safari, so you may want to try another browser when giving this a go. There is also an iPad app available but it is a more constrained experience. Both versions are fascinating to play with and any fan of Paris will enjoy the opportunity to stroll its streets and explore the city’s history.