Lonely Planet launches Wenzani travel app for iPhone and iPod touch

wenzani lonely planetTravel guide favorite Lonely Planet has joined the app game with the launch today of Wenzani, a free app for for the iPhone and iPod touch. Wenzani – a Zulu greeting which means “what are you doing?”- brings together recommendations from Lonely Planet and other top travel publishers along with local experts, and users’ social networks.

“It’s creating a personalized guide on-the-go,” said Jenny Fielding, Wenzani’s CEO. “Wenzani is designed for the social generation, allowing users to tap into leading content from multiple expert sources with socially curated recommendations.”

The app contains three main features. The first? Recommendations drawn from Lonely Planet, Frommer’s Travel and DK Eyewitness, along with other expert sources including BBC Travel, Time Out, and Hearst. It’s the first time we’ve seen competitors come together to form one broad-based app, something we’re excited to explore. Wenzani also promises “content according to context and relevancy, taking into consideration the user’s location and their social network, so that the information is constantly updated while on the go.” Soon, Wenzani will filter by other factors such as weather, time of day, and whether the user is a local or visitor, so it becomes even more tailored and relevant to the users’ needs in real time.

This is something we’ve always wanted to see- I don’t want to go on a walking tour by the lake if it’s 30 degrees and rainy! The third portion is the social media integration which allows users to connect with their friends and other travelers in order to share their own personal experiences and recommendations. Users can browse their friends’ entries and recommendations, create their own listing to add into the guide, or ask a question to the community (e.g. “Where should I get sushi in midtown Manhattan?”) to get immediate answers pushed onto their mobile device. Wenzani also has a Facebook web app to allow users to integrate recommendations from Facebook into the guide.This seems like it will be the most or least useful portion of the tool, depending on how connected and active your social network is in the area where you’re traveling.

From what we can tell, this app promises to be a powerful addition to the suite of travel tools we already have handy on our iPhones. Apps for Android and other platforms will launch in early 2012.

Introducing Wenzani from Wenzani on Vimeo.

National Geographic and Fotopedia launch ‘Above France’ app

National Geographic and Fotopedia app Above France is available nowNational Geographic and Fotopedia have once again joined forces to offer a new app that is sure to be a hit with Francophiles (or anyone else who loves great photos!) everywhere. The just released Above France app offers stunning views of that country from a unique perspective that few ever get the opportunity to see.

As the name implies, this app comes packed with more than 2000 images, all shot from the air, of some of France’s most famous and memorable locations. The images were taken by professional photographer and helicopter pilot Frank Mulliez, who combined his two occupations to capture the beauty and wonder of the French countryside from above. Some of the sites that were photographed from the sky include Mont Blanc, the famous castles in the Loire Valley, the streets of Paris, and of course, the Eiffel Tower.

In addition to the great photos that are centerpiece of this app, Above France also includes a host of navigation features and interactive maps so you can find the sites for yourself. There is also a personal trip builder that can be used to create custom trips of your own, both real and virtual. The app integrates nicely with Facebook, Twitter, and email as well, so you can share your favorite images with friends, while the “instant slideshow” option will automatically create a custom display of stunning photos for you to enjoy on your own.

This app is the second collaboration between Nat Geo and Fotopedia. A month ago they released their Dreams of Burma app, which offered similar features for that country.

Above France is available in the iOS app store now for just $2.99, and runs on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad. An Internet connection is required for use.

MTrip travel app for iPhone and iPod makes exploring new destinations simple

Planning a holiday trip to a new city or country? Consider making MTrip part of your packing list. Download this new-ish travel app to your iPhone or iPod touch for pick-your-own or full-service planning.

Choose from ciites like New York, Washington, Venice, Munich, Istanbul, Paris, and Bejing for $5.99 each, available for download on mTrip or the iPhone app store. (*As a Black Friday / Cyber Monday special, they’ve lowered the price to $3.99 for a limited time.)

We like the multitude of options available with these guides. Instead of only pre-set itineraries, choose your preferred pace, hotel (to plan the best routes) and add, delete, or shift around activities with just a touch of a button. If you think you’re running short on time, check each destination to see entry fees, hours of operation, and more.

Even better, the guides are 100% offline, meaning you won’t incur extra data usage charges in a foreign country. We think this will soon be a regular part of our trip planning process, particularly when we’re trying to see a lot of sites in a short period of time.

See the demo below for a more in-depth explanation about how to use the service:

Survival guide app

No one likes to think of the bad things that could happen on a trip. But what would you do if you survived a plane crash, were caught in a terrorist attack, or encountered a tsunami while on vacation? Well wonder no more iphone users. The SAS Survival Guide has been around in book form for over twenty years but now there’s an app.

John “Lofty” Wiseman spent years as a soldier and instructor for the SAS, an elite British fighting unit. In the app, Lofty guides the reader through a myriad of nightmare scenarios. Stranded atop an icy mountain? Covered. Need to know what local plants are edible? Check. Stuck in a forest fire with no obvious escape? No worries. The guide provides detailed information on all these would-be disasters. The app will cost $6.99 at itunes and is compatible with the ipad and ipod touch as well.

Although the guide is a great read, and the bulit-in survival quiz is fun for parties and around the campfire, the practicality of using it on-demand in some of these situations is questionable. For instance, if your plane were to crash land in the ocean your cell phone would be wet and useless. Then what? You are stranded on a mountaintop in the Himalaya and your phone runs out of battery. Tough luck. To get the most out of the guide read it before the disaster strikes.

The app holds interest by utilizing several interactive features including the survival quiz, an instructional video, and even a morse code feature that will turn your iphone into a beeping/flashing communicator. These make it fun for the user to learn a bit more about surviving if and when disaster strikes. That can’t be a bad thing when the shit hits the fan.

Point Inside app helps you navigate your way around 50 airports on your iPhone or iPad

We’ve covered Point Inside in the past – their previous version focused on helping you find your way around shopping malls, and did a great job at helping locate your favorite store, restaurants and more. Now, the developers behind this excellent app have taken things way beyond shopping – with the addition of maps covering 50 airports in the U.S. and Canada.

Just in time for the busy Memorial Day weekend, you’ll be able to download Point Inside onto your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, and navigate your way around airports you’ve never been to, with the ease of a frequent flier.

Best of all, the app makes use of GPS, cell tower and Wi-Fi positioning technologies to help you navigate, even when you are indoors. A list of all the airports included in this version can be found here.

To download the new version, simply update your current version or click here for a new download. The Android version has not been updated yet – but it too will soon have access to the airport maps feature.