Two Great iOS Travel Apps (Review)
I was travelling overseas recently and found 2 apps very useful. I don’t normally post app reviews, but these two apps made such a huge difference to my experience overseas (and reduced my mobile phone bill by about 25%) that I had to share them as they are just brilliant!
As I was checking in at the airport, I received a message from my network telling me about Onavo Extend. It was free (and still is) and is a very clever little app. I thought I would give it a try and the result was a saving of about £27 over a 10 day period overseas. Not bad for a free app – thank you very much Onavo! Here’s the brief:
Onavo Extend is a powerful app that lets you stretch your data plan by up to five times without changing the way you use your smartphone or tablet. With the data compression power of Onavo Extend, you can do more with your data plan while avoiding overage charges, roaming fees and data throttling.
Onavo Extend make it easy to get more out of your data plan both at home and while you travel. Just as Onavo Extend helps save you from unexpected data charges at home, it helps you stay within your roaming data plan while you travel with its unparalleled compression technologies.
The app also gives you reports that break down your data usage by apps and mobile data activities so that you can keep track of how you have been spending your monthly data allowance for a maximized mobile data experience.
To make sure that you get the most out of your data plan, you can control the balance between image quality and savings in the app’s Settings screen.
Currently, Onavo Extend compresses all downloaded data, including images and texts, but does not currently compress streaming media or VoIP apps, like YouTube or Skype. Please stay tuned; we are working on compressing streaming data, as well!
Here are screenshots taken from my actual use of the app:
Aside from the very nice savings you make, the app also contains a good set of headline stats so you can quickly see your overall savings as well as a breakdown of which iOS apps are hogging all your bandwidth. From my 10 day period, aside from app downloads (actually performed over WiFi) the largest bandwidth user was the Apple GPS. Makes you want to switch Location Services off while you’re travelling unless you really need to use it!
The app allows you to change your data pricing from the settings, so when you reach a new country you can change your cost structure so that it works out how much you save in that location. When you make this change in the settings the app starts a new “session” so you can see a breakdown of different “sessions” representing your visits to different territories. Nice.
You need to configure the app to begin with and create an account – this is very straightforward and best done in your home country as it requires a download from Onavo to fully configure the service to crunch data. Once you have done this, just leave the app running in the background and it will do everything it needs to to save you money.
I have had this little free app sitting on my iPhone for a very long time, but never used it. However, in Lebanon where the currency was unfamiliar I decided to fire up the app and set up a currency converter to show the conversions from GBP to LBP and USD (they use US Dollars and Lebanese Lire interchangeably). It was when I first used the app to do this that I discovered its magic.
Converter Plus is a unit converter with very extensive list of currencies and units in hundreds of categories. The list includes area, weight, energy, force, length, mass, power, pressure, speed, temperature, volume, bits and bytes and many more.
Converter Plus also comes with mortgage, loan, tip, fuel consumption calculators and many others for everyday problems. You can add your own calculations.
Exchange rates for all 167 world’s currencies is refreshed automatically every 6 hours or on request.
Firstly, it converts pretty much anything into anything else. There is an almost infinite array of conversion options and you can favourite the ones you need to use and so create a more manageable short list of converters. Then you can customise each converter so that you only see the conversions you want to – in my case 4 specific currencies – from all possible variations. You can update this anytime you want. There are more “power user” options as well, but the range of converters available, and the ability to customise each one sets this app apart as a must-have travel app for me. Here’s a currency screenshot with a couple of screens from iTunes showing the favourites and customisation of one of the many converters.
For currencies, the app downloads the latest conversion rates from a central server so it stays up-to-date without you needing to enter the conversion rates as many other apps require. OK, this uses some bandwidth, but with Onavo Extend installed you’ll be crunching that stream of data to make things better for you
If you’re travelling I’d recommend these 2 apps.