By Waheeda Harris
Mobile phones and tablets are quickly becoming the preferred travel accessories. A recent survey of business travellers by research firm PhoCusWright showed 84% are devoted to their smartphone as a travel tool.
Following are five ways tech will enhance your travel experience in 2012.
1. Mobile-friendly sites. The most popular travel websites, such as TripAdvisor, National Geographic, Yelp and Google Earth, are available on handheld devices.
2. Better (and cheaper) navigation systems. The $200 GPS navigation system may be a thing of the past with mobile navigation tools that can be downloaded to your phone or tablet—some are even free. Plus, look for lots of enhancements in 2012: GPS systems that can help you avoid traffic jams are already a reality.
3. Virtual society. Social networks such as Foursquare, Instagram and BitFlx are giving travellers options to share and learn from each other’s holiday experiences via info, photo and video.
4. Guides to go. According to a recent article in The Telegraph, the ability to download travel guides, easily find mobile Internet, take photos and access social media have made the hand-held devices a must-have accessory when on holiday.
5. Apps, apps and more apps. Some 140,000 iPad apps and thousands of iPhone, Blackberry, Android and tablet apps are available for the discerning traveller. And new apps are popping up nearly every day: from real-time language translation, so you can give a cab driver directions in Portuguese, to augmented-reality apps that can tell you which of the dozen surrounding Starbucks is the closest.