Mike Haney puts the latest smartphone applications to the test to find which make work—andlife—easier on the road
ON THE MOVE
Organize your itinerary: TripIt is the easiest way to consolidate all your travel details—flights, hotels, cars, events—on one site. Just forward your confirmation e-mails to email@example.com and the site will instantly pull the relevant info and build your itinerary. The app includes basic flight tracking, terminal maps, driving directions, and airplane-seat advice (good for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone; free); the Pro service adds loyalty-program tracking and recommends other flights if yours is canceled ($69 per year). Though a bit slower to upload your trip details, TripCase works in a similar manner and automatically adds itineraries booked through a Sabre reservation system (good for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Mobile; free).
Keep an eye on your flight: Most flight-tracking apps offer international coverage and gate info and update TripIt itineraries. What sets FlightTrack Pro apart is its push alerts: notifications of flight delays or cancellations that buzz your phone even when the app isn't open. Like most apps, FlightTrack gets its data from FlightStats, which bundles info from the FAA and airlines (good for Android, iPhone; $10).
Book last-minute flights, hotels, and car rentals: For sheer comprehensiveness, Kayak's app is a good place to start any search (good for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Mobile; free); Kayak First (iTunes) lets you search for premium-class seats ($2). But when it comes to booking hotels, it's much faster to use Android's Hotels Near Me, BlackBerry's HRS Hotelportal, or iPhone's HotelPal—all save your account info to spare you tedious typing (free).
Kill time at the airport: GateGuru provides terminal-specific guides to restaurants, bars, shops, and services at 85 U.S. airports (good for iPhone; free).
ON THE GROUND
Find a taxi: Taxi Magic ties directly into dispatch systems in 25 U.S. cities, so you can use the app to book a cab, track its progress toward you, and pay. In other cities, it'll bring up numbers of local companies (good for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone; free). Cab4me lets users rank taxi services (free with Android; $3 with BlackBerry; $1 with iPhone), while Rocket Taxi covers several European countries including Germany, Italy, and Spain (good for iPhone; $2); both provide numbers of local cab companies.