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summer cell

Friday Fun for the IT Crowd: Apps of summer

June 05, 2015
By Alyson Hayward

Summer is near, and I can almost smell the fresh-cut grass, taste the hot dogs at the ballpark and the time off from work is within arm’s reach. In the spirit of the season, we’ve identified a selection of mobile apps that can help you get more out of your summer days.

Planning a trip?
From booking your flight to planning your daily itinerary, vacation planning can be both fun and overwhelming. Use these apps to ease the planning process.

Booking travel and accommodations
As a frequent flyer on Southwest Airlines, I regularly use their app to book and manage my flights. But I am certainly open to other ways to find affordable air fares, such as:

  • Skyscanner – offers cost comparisons across multiple airlines
  • KAYAK and Orbitz – allows users to browse and book plane tickets, hotel reservations and car rentals
  • TripAdvisor – shows thousands of reviews for hotels and attractions

Packing for the trip
With so many highly-rated apps that are focused on weather out there, how do you choose which one to trust? Personally, I don’t get out of bed in the morning before looking at my Weather Underground app, which touts itself as delivering “the world’s most accurate hyper-local weather forecasts,” derived from crowd-sourced weather data. For a nominal fee, NOAA Radar Pro provides 24-hour and 7-day forecasts, real-time weather, and hurricane and storm tracking.

Navigating unfamiliar streets
I am a loyal user of Google Maps and appreciate their navigation options by car, transit or on foot. With 220 countries and territories covered, you might be all set using this app to get around during your time away. If you’re driving on your trip, consider Waze, a community-based app that leverages user information to provide real-time traffic conditions and alerts of accidents, construction, road hazards and other activity. Don’t anticipate you’ll have good service where you’re going? There are plenty of apps available that offer offline GPS navigation. For example, CoPilot GPS provides unique features, including free offline mapping, multistops and walking mode.

Staying motivated…
Having trouble staying focused as your trip approaches? Keep your eyes on the prize with apps such as Dreamdays, Countdown!! and Countdown+++. Look forward to your vacation by tracking exactly how many days left until your trip with one of these or many other free and paid apps available. Final Countdown even shows years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds until your big event. Let the countdown begin!

Staying put?
Even if you’re not making any big trips this summer, there is fun to be had right outside your doorstep.

Exploring the familiar
I am a fan of stay-cations and am planning on spending most of my summer at home in Baltimore. Here are a few of my top picks.

  • For concerts – Bandsintown is highly rated among both Android and iOS users. The app lets you know when and where your favorite artists are performing, enables you to purchase concert tickets and even helps you discover new musicians performing nearby.
  • For movies – There’s something relaxing about exiting the sweltering humidity and entering an air-conditioned movie theatre. Movies by Flixster is the most-downloaded movies app, offering trailers, showtimes and critic’s reviews of the latest flicks. For all of this and more, including a ticket-buying feature, use Fandango.
  • For dinner – I love using OpenTable to make dinner reservations, save time and skip the line. On top of the obvious perks, OpenTable also provides restaurant reviews and allows users to make special requests and even earn points redeemable for future dining. Urbanspoon and Yelp are also great resources for hearing what recent customers think of the new place in town you’re considering trying tonight.

Of course there are millions of applications for your smartphone or tablet, and we can’t list them all. Know of any other great apps? Share with us in the comments!

Enjoy this article? Read other recent Friday Fun posts.

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Alyson Hayward is a newbie blogger testing the waters. A native New Englander, she enjoys the beauty of four seasons but would prefer spending her time only in the warmer ones. When she’s not at work, you can find her exploring the city or daydreaming about the beach.

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