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All Things Appy: 5 Best iOS Transportation Apps

All Things Appy: 5 Best iOS Transportation Apps

Street-located Zipcars are an alternative to car ownership and public transportation. Reserve the car with the app, drive away, return the car to the same parking spot, and Zipcar bills you for hours driven. The app lets you view available cars on a map, sort cars by time available, locate the car by sounding its horn, and extend your reservation.

By Patrick Nelson
12/07/12 5:00 AM PT

TechNewsWorld's All Things Appy looks at the best apps for our mobile devices today. This week, our focus is on transportation apps for iOS.

The travel experience has been enhanced by the portability of the iPhone and its apps. Travel planning, making reservations, and getting information while on the road are all easier with the top five free transportation-oriented apps available for the iOS platform.

Apps can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store. Browse to it using your mobile device, and then search for the app you'd like to download.

No. 1: Orbitz Flights, Hotels, Cars for iPhone

orbitz icon

The Orbitz travel reservations app is rated 3+ out of a possible five by 2,298 reviewers using all versions, and 4+ out of a possible five by 125 reviewers using the latest version in the App Store. An iPad-specific version is also available.

orbitz screen

Orbitz provides strong sort-and-filter functionality -- flight durations make choosing flights easy.

Rapidly search for flights from within the app, then reserve. It includes flight status search too.

This app also provides car rental and hotel booking.

Map-based hotel results let you see exactly where the hotel is located.

Orbitz was launched in 1999 by an American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and United Air Lines consortium with corresponding access to industry-wide computer systems.

It was the first of the airline pricing intelligence aggregators geared toward the consumer.

TechNewsWorld reckons it's still the best.

No. 2: Taxi Magic

taxi magic

Ride Charge's taxi booking app is rated three out of a possible five by 9,623 reviewers using all versions, and 4+ out of a possible five by 20 reviewers using the latest version in the App Store.

Book taxis with a couple of screen taps.

Taxi magic has automated access to 75 taxi fleets in 40 U.S. cities. Set up a bank card option at US$1.50 a trip. Then just add a tip to your fare, and touch a Pay button when exiting the cab. Expenses-friendly receipts are delivered by email.

TechNewsWorld likes this app for the dispatched cab tracking functionality -- the peace of mind that it provides by letting you know through the animated map-drawn icon that your taxi is en route.

Includes tap-to-call numbers for fleets not tied into its automated dispatch system.

No. 3: Zipcar

zipcar

Zipcar's car rental app is rated 3+ out of a possible five by 17,992 reviewers using all versions, and 4+ out of a possible five by 2,905 reviewers using the latest version in the App Store.

This app reserves, unlocks and locks Zipcar doors.

Street-located Zipcars are an alternative to car ownership and public transportation. Reserve the car with the app, drive away, return the car to the same parking spot, and Zipcar bills you for hours driven.

The app lets you view available cars on a map, sort cars by time available, locate the car by sounding its horn, and extend your reservation.

Zipcars are in 15 U.S. cities and at some universities. They're also dotted around parts of Europe, making this app great for traveling too.

Zipcar uses a fee-based membership system.

No. 4: Tripadvisor Hotels Flights Restaurants

Tripadvisor's planning app is rated four out of a possible five by 29,155 reviewers using all versions, and 4+ out of a possible five by 716 reviewers using the latest version in the App Store. An iPad-specific version is also available.

Plan trips using overmore than 75 million reviews from fellow travelers. This app includes restaurants in addition to the usual flights and hotels.

Associated apps also worth downloading include professionally edited offline city guides with geolocating reviews of nearby restaurants and attractions.

No. 5: GateGuru

GateGuru's itinerary planning app is rated three out of a possible five by 3,357 reviewers using all versions, and 1+ out of a possible five by 48 reviewers using the latest version in the App Store.

GateGuru is not all that great for the crowd-sourced TSA security wait times, because not enough people are participating.

However, this app is a lifesaver for accessing basic airport information like the nearest ATM shown on a map.

It's useful too if you want to plan restaurants in advance when connecting.

Plus, it provides real-time gate and flight status. The latest version is something of a letdown due to disappointing feature-bloat.


Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.


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