An App For Apps Makes Travel Easier, Maybe Too Easy

Apps
Joe Lanman/Flickr

In the world of travel apps, we’ve seen geo-based, crowd-sourced and sharing technology that has opened up a lot of possibilities for travelers. We can automatically create a travel log with one, find a hotel on the fly with another and map our way through unknown lands with ease. The result? A home screen full of apps that demand to be sorted, modified and updated to be useful. But now, in a new generation that leverages a bit of artificial intelligence, app developers have a plan to make that easier. Gaining a mind of its own, your smartphone can do much more than we ask of it.

Tempo is a calendar app that uses learning algorithms to figure out what information you’re looking for, if not anticipate your needs. It’s a first generation of artificial intelligence applied to smartphones that considers all information sources available to present relevant information.

“After you grant Tempo access to your email and calendars, the app searches for all the tidbits of schedule-related information you have stored in your accounts, gathering it together and presenting it cleanly inside individual calendar events,” notes a Wired article.Going to a meeting across town? Given authorization, Tempo will take that calendar note to “meet client for lunch” and add access to recent email, relevant documents for the meeting, provide parking information at the location, information about the restaurant and check you in on Facebook or Foursquare, automatically.

Right now, we would need to open multiple apps to make that happen. In the future, we may just be along for the ride.

An iPhone Case Designed With Globetrotters In Mind

These days, a smartphone is an indispensible item on most travelers’ packing lists, but if you’re heading abroad you need to make sure your phone will work – and work cheaply at that. One idea we’ve suggested before is to switch out your phone’s SIM cards so you don’t get hit with massive international roaming charges.

That’s still excellent advice, but the problem many of us face is how to get our SIM cards out of our phones, and how to keep them safe when they’re not being used. This is the dilemma that two avid travelers are hoping to address with the SIMPLcase, an iphone case designed especially for international jetsetters.Unlike most iPhone cases where the focus is on the decoration or “bling” on the outside, what makes the SIMPLcase special is what’s on the inside. The interior of this durable plastic iPhone case holds a special tool that’s used for easily ejecting your phone’s SIM card tray, so you don’t have to mess around with pins or other pointy objects that might scratch your phone. There are also three padded slots to store spare SIM cards so there’s no need to worry about losing or damaging the delicate, fingernail-sized memory chips.

Despite the internal storage, the SIMPLcase still has a sleek profile, which is great for minimalist travelers. Another bonus is the ability to turn the iPhone case into a phone stand by slotting a credit card into the groove on the back of the case. Propping the phone up this way makes skyping with friends back home or watching videos that much more comfortable.

If you’re interested in the SIMPLcase, you can pick one up for $12 by jumping on board the company’s Kickstarter project. Right now, the case is only available for the iPhone 5, but if there’s demand, the company also plans to make cases for the iPhone 4 and 4S.

This is just another one of the many great travel innovations we’ve already seen come out of Kickstarter. Click to check out images of the SIMPLcase below.

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[Photo credit: lgcldesigns]

Gadling Gear Review: SYSTM iPhone Cases

SYSTM Vise iPhone CaseThe iPhone is beyond a doubt a beautiful piece of technology. Over the past few years, Apple’s iconic device has set the standard by which all other smartphones are compared. But that beauty comes with a price, as anyone who has ever dropped their iPhone onto a hard surface can attest. A good case can alleviate that heartbreak, however, providing extra protection when you need it most.

Some of the best cases available today are designed and built by a company called SYSTM. They are durable, rugged and provide more protection than just about any other case I’ve found. Better yet, they’re attractive, thin and don’t detract from the look of the iPhone in any way. Here are two unique options that will ensconce your iPhone 4/4S or 5 in a protective shell that will keep it safe from just about any kind of danger.

SYSTM Vise ($49.95)
If you’re looking for the ultimate in iPhone protection then the SYSTM Vise is the case for you. It provides three distinct layers of padding by first wrapping the phone in a soft rubber sheath, which is then covered in two pieces of outer armor that lock tightly into place around the device. This hard external shell is smooth, yet easy to grip, and features access points for the volume buttons and mute switch without obstructing the camera lens in anyway.

The Vise provides a fantastic level of shock absorption, which protects both the front and back of the iPhone, keeping it safe and secure when accidentally dropped, even from a substantial height. The corner and side pads are also reinforced to keep the fragile edge of the smartphone from suffering damage as well. Those areas can be especially susceptible to damage.Considering the level of protection the Vise delivers, the case is actually smaller and lighter than you would expect. It does, however, add a measure of thickness and weight to the iPhone that is undeniable. Still, frequent travelers will probably be willing to give up a bit of size and weight in order to keep their device secure while on the road. This is the kind of case that is equally useful in an urban environment as it is on a backpacking trip into the wilderness, and unlike a lot of other cases, it is easy to remove when you don’t feel it is needed.

It should be noted that the Vise comes with a detachable belt clip, which I’m sure some people will appreciate. While it does do a good job of holding the phone in place, I found it to be a bit larger than I would have liked and didn’t use it much after initial testing.

SYSTM Hammer iPhone CaseSYSTM Hammer ($29.95)
There is no denying that the Vise provides unprecedented levels of protection for our favorite smartphone, but not everyone is willing to sacrifice weight and thickness for that level of security. SYSTM has those users covered too however as they offer a thinner, lighter case in the form of the Hammer.

This case consists of a form-fitting, soft rubber sleeve that closely resembles the inner lining that comes with the Vise. Unlike that case however, the Hammer consists of just this single layer of protection and doesn’t include the hard outer shell that makes the Vise so unique. The Hammer does have reinforced corners and is made of shock absorbing materials, which combine to provide an overall excellent level of protection without adding any undue bulk.

Much like the Vise, the Hammer is incredibly easy to add or remove from the iPhone as needed. But unlike its bulkier counterpart, you probably won’t feel the need to take the Hammer off your phone quite so often. Since it is so much thinner, and does an excellent job of enhancing our grip while protecting the device, you’ll probably just want to leave it in place at all times. After a day or two, you’ll come to appreciate the qualities that it delivers and will likely forget that you even have it on the phone anyway.

Both the Vise and Hammer are great products and would make excellent holiday gifts. The Vise provides a high level of protection for those who take their tech toys to demanding environments or are just simply hard on their phones. The Hammer, on the other hand, isn’t quite so rugged and durable, but it still provides plenty of protection in a thinner and lighter package. Either one will keep your smartphone safe from harm and just as beautiful as it was the day it came out of the box.

Cellphone Accessories For Our Mobile Overlords

iPhone Case from G-FormThere’s no device I love to hate as much as I hate to love my iPhone. (You read that right.) Your mileage may vary; you may not feel like both a chump and a devotee while caressing your mobile whatever. Until I attain your Zen-like state, I feel annoyed whenever I find myself buying presents for my phone, even if they are practical and make using my phone a better experience. Here’s the drill on three extras I’ve been using lately.

G-Form Extreme Grid iPhone Case
: Drop your phone one time ONLY on the bus and you’ll wish you’d shelled out for a case. It’s like Apple is intentionally propping up the case market by using that slippery exterior. I used an Otter Box on my iPhone 3, but I’ve come to prefer the weird grippy exterior of the G-Form on my iPhone 4. People keep making fun of the almost tire tread like bumpy black box I wrap my phone in, but the fact is, it stays put in my hand and has enough padding and bounce that my phone didn’t shatter into tiny expensive bits when I dropped it on the 54. There was an audible gasp from the people around me, but I just picked up my phone and went back to listening to vintage sci-fi radio theater and posting pictures to Instagram.

The case comes in black or black and yellow. I kind of wish I’d got the yellow just because it would make the phone easier to find when it’s lost in my backpack. Cost: about $40. That might seem expensive, but it’s going to cost you more than that to buy a new phone.

Mophie Juice Pack PlusMophie Juice Pack Plus: With great addiction comes the endless search for outlets and places to recharge the phone, right? You can buy yourself a lot more time with a spare battery. Mophie builds theirs into an attractive case that allows you to double the use time of your phone. I think this case/battery combo is pretty freaking great. It serves to protect your phone, and gives you all that extra use time, and it comes in a bunch of happy colors. I dropped my phone in this case, too, because apparently, that’s how I roll. The case is a little scratched up, but it still works just fine and my phone is still totally intact. It’s charged via a mini-USB cable. You leave it off until you need the extra juice, then it charges your phone while you use it. It’s great for long-haul flights, especially if, like me, you spend your airtime with audio entertainment.

The Juice Pack is pricey – it’s about $100. Here’s the truth: I like this thing and bring it everywhere.

Able Planet Clear Harmony Sound Isolation EarphonesAble Planet Clear Harmony Sound Isolation Earphones: I’ve gone through half a dozen pairs of iPhone compatible earbuds. On my last trip I lost my isolation Sennheisers. The sound was top notch, but I was on my third pair because they kept breaking (while still under warranty, thankfully). I replaced them with a really cheap pair of JVC iPhone compatible headphones, and they broke too.

I like the isolation earbuds because they don’t take up the space of headphones, but I’ve yet to find a pair that reduces external noise the way active cancelling headphones do. I like the Able Planet brand just fine; they’re far superior to the standard Apple earbuds and they stay put, but I’m not totally sold. They sound great, don’t get me wrong, and they do help with noise reduction on the plane or the bus, but that crying baby still found his way into my head while I was trying to doze on the plane. Even with the white noise app I use, ambient sound leaked in through everywhere. Able Planet makes active noise cancelling headsets too, I own a pair, and I wish I’d packed them instead. I await perfect, affordable, noise blocking earbuds.

Able Planet Earbuds run about $170. They’re fine for daily use, but if you’re really looking for noise reduction and you’re going to spend that kind of money, go with active noise cancelling instead.

Photo of the Day: Pomegranates in Jerusalem


Sometimes, the most hidden corners of a city are its most interesting. Take this sliver of Jerusalem‘s Muslim Quarter, where a small pomegranate stand, a chair, a door, a mirror, some electrical wires, and graffiti compose one of the most visually striking images in the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Plus, this Photo of the Day was taken with an iPhone! Flickr user Better Nothing Than Almost proves that when the subject, lighting, and composition are right, the rest doesn’t really matter. Well, maybe some photo-ready iPhoneography apps help too.

Does your photo belong here? Upload your favorite travel shots, whether pro or Instagram, to the Gadling Group Pool and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.