Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's Appening on the Road

Visits to family over Spring Break and Easter resulted in us traveling over 1600 miles. There were three apps that were go to apps (Waze, GasBuddy, and The Weather Channel) as we made our way on our adventure, plus a few other apps which we also consulted. I provide in this blog to websites associated with the apps if you have the desire to explore more.

This was a constant companion. Although the car has its own GPS unit, Waze provided the option of typing addresses in while the car was in motion. (Yes, I was the passenger.) Plus as a socially constructed navigation app, it provided updates about where we might encounter police, accidents, construction, traffic and other highway hazards. The biggest disadvantages were that Waze timed out on trying to find a route when we were in northern North Carolina headed to Virginia and as we got further away from urban areas there were fewer Waze users therefore less real time navigational data available about the area. Of course, that allowed me to chomp new roads and add to the Waze map database.

What a great tool for trying to figure out where we were going to get fuel. When we got to half a tank, I would start checking prices in the area we were in as well as locations further down the road. Price based decision making thanks to this app. The usefulness of this app is based on socially constructed data as well.

The Weather Channel:
We use this app both at home and away. It helps us to pack, figure out what to wear for the day, and decide what activities we might want to plan during vacation.

Rest Area:
This app is most useful when on an interstate, because it is exactly what it sounds like, a rest area locator. Open and refresh to your current location and while in list view it tells you where the next rest area is, what mile marker it is located at, how far away from you and whether it is a left or right exit. Clicking for details lets you know what amenities are available. Plus you can opt to see it on a map.

AroundMe and Yelp:
I haven't made a decision yet on which of these two apps I prefer. Maybe that is because I haven't really worked them to their full potential. I like the ease of being able to enter a location, tell what I am searching for and get a listing with ratings and directions. It certainly helps with picking out meal stops.  Along those same lines I also tried the foursquare explore option and was thrilled with how it seemed to work, including providing a menu. I had my meal picked out when we arrived only to find the menu on foursquare was nothing like the menu it showed for the restaurant.
I'm open to suggestions in this area.

Hotel (formerly RoomSavers):
Who remembers the little green book you could pick up at rest areas and welcome centers with hotel discounts in it. They still have them, but there's an app for that! We could program in a destination, check out the prices of hotels, inquire at the front desk for their best rate and then hold out the phone with the discount coupon on it.

Although I enjoyed playing with all the travel and navigation apps I used on the journey, I still had an “old-fashioned” map in hand as well as a handful of brochures and pamphlets about sites we would encounter on the way.

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