Top 5 Free Holiday Apps


We’ve noticed a couple of things when searching for recommendations for good apps to use on holiday. First that many are aimed at helping you plan or organise a trip, but are of limited use when you get there, and second that many need a steady internet connection, which unless you want to pay expensive roaming fees are again of little use when you get there. So here’s a short list of five free and genuinely useful apps that we think should be on every smartphone user’s “must-have list” for a trip abroad.

Pocket is a great app to have in any situation where you’ll spend a significant amount of time without an internet connection. Able to save web pages (including images and even videos) locally on your phone with just a couple of taps on the screen, it’s easy to amass a list of “must read” articles to peruse at a more convenient time. So you could, for example, grab the day’s news from the wireless area at reception and enjoy it outside at the pool bar while catching a few rays.
Available for: iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire


You’d be hard pressed not to have at least heard of Skype. The popular VOIP (Voice Over IP) service has found a new lease of life on mobile platforms, and it’s a great way to make video or voice calls without touching the data or minutes on your phone package. This is particularly useful abroad when facing roaming charges, provided you can find a quiet place in a wireless area to make your call. You can also send messages via Skype, though alternatives such as WhatsApp offer a slightly more straightforward way to send free text, photo and video messages to loved ones while away.
Available for: iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry


Oanda Currency Convertor
There is no shortage of currency conversion software for mobiles, but we’re a fan of Oanda’s for its small footprint (just 220k), fast and straightforward operation, daily exchange rate updates and the fact that it works offline. You can also choose between the standard interbank rate or use the percentage add-on option to set typical rates for credit card companies and ATMs at foreign banks. So there’s no excuse for miscalculating the next booze cruise – just don’t forget to add on the drinks.
Available for: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry


Tourist Language Learn & Speak
Software such as Google Translate and iTranslate are undoubtedly marvels of modern translation, but unless you’re paying hefty data roaming fees are of little use when you actually need them – on holiday in an area with no wireless signal. Offline phrasebooks are a better bet when you’re actually abroad, and Tourist Language Learn & Speak for Android is up there with the best. With support for 24 languages in 58 countries, all of the key phrases you’ll need are sorted into handy categories and can be are spoken back to you to help with pronunciation.
Available for: Android

Tripit Travel Organizer
After a passport, perhaps the most important thing to take with you on holiday is a printout of your travel itinerary, booking confirmations, airline reservations and other documentation you might need while away. Unless you’re particularly organised it can be easier to forget one or more of these so a service like Tripit could be a lifesaver. Simply upload any relevant documentation and Tripit organises it and makes it available offline for you to check at a moment’s notice. You can even get weather forecasts, maps and directions and share your details with family or friends so they know where you are if they need to contact you.
Available for: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7

Top 5 Sunbathing Apps


Okay so it might be a little premature to start reaching for the sun cream, in fact in the UK we can go the whole year without having so much as to open a bottle of sun protector, but if you are jetting off to sunnier climes this year you’d be extremely foolish if sun protection wasn’t an integral part of your suitcase.

Using the correct protection is a serious business and various companies have come up with gizmos which will allow you to sunbathe in a more controlled way.

The UV wristband

Intellego Technologies of Sweden have come up with this neat little aid to help with safer sunbathing. No bigger than the standard hospital wristband, this nifty device can alert the wearer when it is time to get out of the sun.

Basically the wristband changes colour and when it hits a certain shade you know it’s time to leave the beach. You can get different strength levels for different skin types.

Although it has to be said that this potentially lifesaving device is not particularly helpful those of us who have a tendency to fall asleep on our sun lounger!


Sun Alert Lite

For those really serious about getting a comprehensive understanding of sunbathing and protection, Sun Alert Lite might be the app for you.

This useful tanning aid has three dials, one for skin type, one for the SPF rating of your sun cream and one of the weather conditions, enabling users to have an accurate understanding of what sun protection they should be using.




Knowing when to reapply your sun lotion is always a bit of a bind and all too often can sunbathers forget and suffer with red-raw skin as a consequence. Thanks to Nevus forgetting to reapply are over as you simply set an alarm so that you know when to reapply the lotion.

The Nevus iPhone app also supplies the UV index as well as a “Sunscreen Visualiser” so that you know how much lotion to apply for optimum coverage.

A handy app for just £1.99!



Coppertone MyUVAlert

This free to download app by Coppertone enables users to look up the UV index for the location they are heading to. Users are then encouraged to set up a ‘Suncare profile,’ which has been accused of simply being a platform for Coppertone to sell its skincare products.

The UV index might be pretty handy though!



Suntan Watcher

Simply lock your phone, set your sun tan levels and catch those rays! The various settings monitor, how many minutes you should spend sunbathing before it is time to turn over, how long before sun cream is needed to be applied, and how long before it is time to stop sunbathing altogether.

As an alarm rings out perhaps this anti-sunburn gadget is more suited to those who can’t help but fall asleep on the beach – Not bad for a mere £0.69.


Ebooker’s Hotel iPad app: No more chancing your chocolates

Long gone are the days when travellers and backpackers, unsure of where the next hotel might be, precariously ‘chanced their chocolates’ in entering a dark, dingy and eerie-looking inn down some alleyway in Outer Mongolia to get their head down for the night.  Thanks to ebooker’s new Hotel iPad app, for travellers on the go, locating a hotel couldn’t be faster or easier.


Exploiting the iPad’s GPS capabilities, the iPad Hotel app locates nearby hotels, or alternatively, travellers can find a nearby hotel by punching in the city, town, postcard or even a landmark close to where they want to spend the night.

Asides from finding users a nearby hotel, ebookers’ new app provides thousands of hotel reviews that are organised by their distance and region, star rating, price and review score. These comprehensive reviews, which include descriptions of the rooms and amenities, provide information on special offers, and include some ‘guest’ reviews, are backed up by photographs, giving travellers a visual opinion of the hotel they are anticipating spending the night in, as well as a written one.

With the phenomenal popularity of online travel agents such as ebookers, which is delivering ‘4.5-star apps’, designed to help travellers to “book easier an travel happier”, it’s a surprise that high street travel agents are still in existence.

Ebooker’s Hotels app for iPad certainly sounds like a fast, reliable, convenient and streamlined method of planning your hotel destinations whilst on your travels. Personally I think that using such a modern, safe and ‘predictable’ way to find places to crash out for the night, takes some of the fun away of the whole travelling/backpacking experience.

The ebookers Hotels app for the iPad can be downloaded for free at the Apple iPad App Store and is available in six different languages – Happy travelling!

Worlddictionary iPhone app review

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world”, said Ludwig Wittgenstein. And back in the early 20th century, he was right. As technology moves on, however, there’s an iPhone app that’s perfect for the holiday season and ready to tear down the language barrier: Worlddictionary.

Image courtesy of Flickr user torisan3500

Using the iPhone’s camera and optical character recognition technology, Worlddictionary recognises words in 20 different languages and converts them into English.

To read a sentence, simply point the camera’s viewfinder at the word and move along the sentence – the app translates on-the-fly. You can also capture pictures, and then select various words in the picture to translate.

It all works in real-time, although language data is stored on a server – so high-cost data roaming bills might prove to be an issue.

The developers have clearly thought about this, however, and have added functionality to translate existing pictures from your iPhone’s library. Not sure of word? Snap it, save it, take it to a WiFi connection and translate it there.

The app automatically records your searches, so you’ll be able to look-back over the various translations you’ve made. This works great for learning a new language – sort of like interactive, useful flashcards.

After you’ve captured a word, you can search via Google, Wikipedia or YouTube for a better understanding of its meaning – perfect for odd turns-of-phrase used in the wider world.

In practice, the results are varied. For translating a menu or short phrases, the app could be a lifesaver – especially if you’re allergic to certain foods.

For long works of prose, you’ll probably lose a lot of the meaning as a maximum of two words at a time are processed. And for pictogram languages (such as Chinese), the translation of each individual character means that words longer than syllable are gibberish – a composition of their literal parts.

It fares much better on Latin-based languages, where syntax is more similar to English. We tested it on a GCSE French exam and – without any prior knowledge – we did pretty well.

For £2.99, it’s certainly worth the purchase to reduce the risk of eating dog in foreign lands.

Available from the app store

Overboard: Water water everywhere, so keep your gadgets dry

We’ve got not one, not two but three camping trips planned over the summer holidays – and while I keep frantically checking up on the weather, muttering about how wet it’s been recently so surely it’s going to be fine when we’re away, and making sacrifices to the great sun god at the bottom of the garden, the sensible thing would be to be prepared for the heavens to open on us.


And whether you’re planning a camping trip, because you like camping, want a cut-price holiday, or are heading off to a festival this summer, if you’re taking any gizmos or gadgets with you, you really should plan to keep them dry.

Waterproof gear – whether it’s clothes, bags or gadget packs – is not the cheapest, but when you add up how much it would cost you to replace your gadgetry, it’s probably worth spending a bit to keep it safe – a kind of insurance policy if you will

So bearing that in mind, the good-looking backpacks from Overboard don’t seem quite so pricey. The company claims its Pro-Sports Waterproof Backpack is 100 per cent waterproof thanks to (and I quote) “its high frequency electronic construction”. It also has padded shoulder straps lumbar support and a waist strap if you want it – expect to pay £47.50 for the blue or yellow packs and £57.49 for the black or red. They all carry 20l.

Dry Tube Bags from the same company are also waterproof, being made from tarpaulin, and as well as providing waterproof storage, they can be used as an ice bucket, drinks cooler or even as a pillow – a great bit of multitatasking. Prices start at £10.99 for a 5l bag.

Overboard has also come up with a number of custom-designed waterproof packs that allow you to keep your gadgets dry, and still use them at the same time – look out for the iPhone case and waterproof Camera Case at £15.99. a zoom lens camera case at £19.99 and SLR camera bag (£22.49).

Find out more at

Adding a ‘social layer’ to the travel industry with the Gekko Facebook app

Who can blame companies, no matter how big or small, wanting to integrate somehow with Facebook, after all the social networking giants have got more than 750 million active users worldwide. Gekko, the personalised international hotel booking service, is the latest company to join the Facebook integrating trail, unveiling a one-stop Facebook application that simplifies travel planning and purchasing, via the world’s biggest social networking site.


When it comes to travel we do often turn to our friends and family, our ‘trusted’ sources, who often have similar tastes to us, about where to go and what to see, so why not exploit this valuable information ahead of your travel plans?

The new Gekko Facebook app is the first all-in-one Facebook travel app, with a social twist. By collecting and organising travel recommendations from friends, users are tuned in to the best locations, deals and places to visit from their valued and reliable sources. The app also features a “Request-a-Deal” button, which, by just one click, allows bars, restaurants and hotels reply to users directly with personalised offers, enabling users to be informed of the best prices and book accordingly.

Talking about the new app, Gekko’s CEO Michel Cassius said:

“Gekko is evolving the hotel discount model. Consumers get the best price and are offering highly personalised deals by hotels worldwide and by restaurants, clubs and bars. And with our full Facebook integration we add the social layer to the booking process, making it both engaging and fun.”

And being fun is what social networking is all about, right? Being able to interact with others virtually and share thoughts, information and advice is at the core of social networking, forums and other online interactive sources and Gekko is evolving this trend into the travel industry. Users of the Gekko Facebook app can exchange useful tips of travel, track and trace new travel discoveries and share lists of favourites and personal insights about particular bars, beaches or walks, anything associated with travel.

Find Gekko here:

Farm and Cottage Holidays: Find a home away from home on your mobile

With the Easter holidays on the horizon (plus that extra bank holiday – thanks Wils and Kate) there’s plenty of opportunity for a cheeky break away in the UK. So the latest ‘Cottages’ app for iPhone and iPad from Farm and Cottage Holidays couldn’t have been better timed. This free app allows you to search for a home away from home from the comfort of your mobile device.


Over the years I’ve done a lot of searching for holiday accommodation both at home and abroad, and it always seems to be a bit of a faff, so I was interested to see how easy this app was to use.

Well first impressions were pretty good – simply choose an area or town, enter your holiday dates and how many people are going and you’re done.

It works quickly, pulling up a list of possible holiday cottages, and clicking on them for extra details was also speedy. The only problem was that there were cottages marked as available, which, when I clicked on to book, apparently weren’t available after all. Having said that, as the app works so quickly, it wasn’t as annoying as I thought it would be.

If you want to search from a map, that is also possible. That’s my preferred way as I usually work out how far I want to drive and then look around that area, so just typing in North Devon, for instance, or a town is not always the best way to look.

Of course, unlike some websites, you are restricted to the accommodation on the books of this particular company, but with more than 1400 properties to choose from, and the facility to instantly reserve your accommodation, I don’t think is too much of an issue. Remember too, that the cottages and farms are all concentrated in the South West – Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and Somerset.

If you’re doing the searching but want to show your preferred list to your partner or holiday companions before booking, you can easily save them by hitting the heart icon, so you can browse them later on at home, or in the pub (which is always my preferred location). It would have been nice to have the facility to email or text the list to someone else though, especially if you’re responsible for booking for a big group of friends.

If you want to search for facilities, such as open fire or hot tub, or for nearby goodies such as a pub or beach, you can also do this. Dog owners will also be glad of the filter that brings up accommodation that is suitable for their pets – it’s a shame there isn’t one for small child-friendly and disabled accommodation though, although to be fair, this is usually highlighted on the front page of the cottages’ details. For instance, some accommodation is set on farms with tractor rides and pets corners, and would be a favourite for families.

In all the Farm and Cottage Holidays app is quick and simple to use – and as it’s free it’s definitely worth a punt if you’re planning a break in the South West.

Indispensable gadgets for the beach

In typical fashion, the British summer has taken a turn for the worse – at least in the north anyway – meaning thousands will be swiping last minute bargains and flocking to sunnier climes. Latestgadgets looks at those essential gadgets to spruce up lazy days on the beach.


Amazon Kindle 3

Perfect for taking all your books with you on holiday. Read our special feature on it here…

Twister Beach Towel Game

The perfect accessory if your holiday’s mission has romantic inclinations attached. As gathering up the single talent on the beach and inviting them to twist, turn and position their bodies in the way only Twister manages, is extra fun when the girls are in bikinis and the guys are in their Speedo’s!

Olympus Mju Tough-3000

Technology and sand does not normally like each other. But whilst posting enviable images of ourselves lapping up the sun on Facebook or sending loved ones back home photos of us smiling on the sands, digital cameras are now as an essential item in the beach bag as the sun cream. And this is where the Olympus Mju Tough-3000 ‘unbreakable’ camera may be the wisest choice of camera to accompany the beach balls and towels. This ‘well-hard’ gadget comprises of an exceptionally durable spec, being able to handle drops as high as 1.5 meters, dips of up to three meters, and will ‘weather the storm’ in excessively high or low temperatures. Some measly grains of sand will therefore prove powerless to the Olympus Mju Tough-3000. At 140 GBP, with its 12-megapixel sensor, 3.6x optical zoom and 1GB of internal storage, we reckon this latest admission to Olympus’s Mju Tough range deserves a place reserved in the suitcase.

Suntracking Beach Chair

A ‘must-have’ for sun worshippers, whose sole intent of their holiday is to return with a deeply bronzed, to-die-for body. This folding beach chair can swivel 360 degrees ensuring you are always in the sun without the painstaking task of having to get up and move the towel. The Suntracking Beach Chair also reclines into three positions and comes equipped with a detachable pillow and integrated sun canopy. Although for $149.95 the majority of us will probably continue to wrestle with our towels.

Finis Swi MP3.1G waterproof MP3 player

It goes without saying that an MP3 player is a ‘must have’ item to attend a day on the beach with us. Although how annoying is having to reluctantly prize the headphones out of our ears as we wearily take a dip in the sea? Although with the Finis Swi MP3-1G Waterproof Mp3 player, having to forsake music whilst we take a dip or run the risk of water logging our favorite gadget has been effectively ruled out. By replacing conformist headphones with slightly less conventional bone-conduction technology, when the units are strapped to a snorkel mask or goggles, music will vibrate through the cheekbones and into the inner ear. What could be more perfect than swimming amongst the corals to Cold Play?

Zoku Ice Lolly Maker

This one’s a definite if you have kids, as costing just 40 GBP will probably save you a fortune in the endless amounts of ice lollies children demand whilst at the beach. Simply pour drinks into the Zoku and within ten minutes they will come out refreshingly frozen, saving you the time, energy and money of taking regular trips to the ice-cream van.