The elders tell of a fabled era when there was no iPhone, an era when travelers had to use primitive devices called “TomToms” to navigate and photos had to be taken with a separate camera to preserve any level of integrity. Fortunately, those dark, dark days are long dead, and humanity has finally achieved some semblance of civilization.
With a slew of upgrades and brand new features, the release of the iPhone 5 is another step forward for travelers. Columbus certainly didn’t have a star chart app on his old prepaid Samsung, and Francis Drake couldn’t even get reception through most of the Americas. Luckily for modern travelers, we don’t have to deal with such inconveniences on our epic quest to find the nearest Menchie’s. Here’s a list of helpful travel features you’ll discover on the new iPhone 5.
1) Digital boarding pass
Paper boarding passes are the bane of the modern flyer. Printing your boarding pass is always vastly more complicated than anticipated. First of all, you have to actually have access to a printer. And if you do find one, there’s a 25% chances it’s broken and a 75% chance it’s out of ink. As a last resort, you can always print your boarding pass at the airport, but who wants to take that extra step, flying as hectic as it already is?
The iPhone 5 solves the boarding pass pickle. By turning your mobile device into a digital boarding pass, you no longer have to rush to the library (closed Sundays and after 7:00) in a frantic attempt to pre-print. The Passbook app, in addition to absorbing coupons, membership cards, concert tickets and the like, provides travelers with a link to their pass. They can store the pass on their phone and present it when boarding. Easy, quick, paperless.
2) Better maps
Remember paper maps? Believe it or not, they did exist at one point in time. Nowadays, the only place you’re liable to find one is the glove box of Grandpa’s ’96 Buick Regal. With ever-improving smartphone mapping features, even GPS devices are being phased out. The iPhone 5 takes en route navigation to the next stage in its evolution. Apple’s iOS 6 software rips out the old Google mapping system and replaces it with an entirely new product.
Drivers can now turn on voice navigation for audible driving instructions. The map can also be rendered in 3 dimensions and follows your progress. Additionally, you can explore 3D images of cities using the interactive “Flyover” feature. Basically, if you have an iPhone, a separate GPS device is redundant.
The biggest problem with relying on a phone for navigation is the ever-present possibility of losing reception. If reception disappears, so does real-time driving instruction. Never to fear–TeleNav is here! TeleNav has an app called Scout Plus, which provides turn-by-turn directions even when reception is unavailable. It costs $9.99 for a year of service but is an indispensible tool for serious adventurers.
What would an iPhone be without its apps? Well, a lot of things I guess, but you know what I mean. Tons of useful travel apps are available for nearly any conceivable purpose. Here are three of our favorites.
Vocre – Allows for quick translation between several languages. The user selects what languages they are translating from and to (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese or Japanese) and speaks into the phone. The phone provides both an audio and a written translation.
FlightTrack Pro – Provides flight times, gate numbers and terminal maps. This app is brilliant for quick updates and is particularly helpful when you’re crunched for time. FlightTrack also supplies seat charts for info on amenities and legroom.
Hear Planet – A database of user-generated audio guides for destinations around the world. Anyone can upload their own travel tips and narratives for free distribution. Hear Planet allows users to get advice and perspectives they might not find in Frommer’s or Fodor’s.
4) Improved camera
The GPS is not the only device the iPhone aims to render defunct. Low-end digital cameras are quickly becoming irrelevant. The iPhone 5, which shoots in 8 megapixels, has a big 4-inch screen and a new 28-megapixel Panorama mode great for landscapes. The lens comes equipped with a sapphire crystal element for protection against smudges and fingertips.
There are also big improvements in the video department, including 3 microphones with noise-canceling effects. You can now also snap pictures while taking video. And unlike a digital camera that requires a lengthy upload process, the iPhone delivers instant sharing with the new Shared Photo Stream feature.
Basically, the iPhone is the Swiss Army knife of personal electronics. Now only if it had a bottle opener…