By Terry Gardner, Special to Tribune Newspapers
1:00 AM EST, February 4, 2014
Waygo (Free for iOS for 10 translations per day; $1.99 for a week or $6.99 for unlimited translations; coming to Android by the end of March)
What it is: A translation app that uses your phone's camera to see Chinese phrases on a sign or a menu, then translates them into English online or offline.
How it works: When you first launch the app, it provides a quick tutorial on how to use it. On subsequent launches, it opens on the translation page, and you center the text in the Camera View/Translation box. Then an English translation appears. Press Freeze to pause translation to show it to your waiter. To see the tutorial again, click on Help in the main menu (accessed from the app's upper left corner).
Why it's great: Most street and store signs are written in Chinese characters in China, with little, if any, English. This is a must app for visiting China, Taiwan or Hong Kong, unless you read Chinese. Waygo CEO Ryan Rogowski says street names often change every block or two, so this app also could help a traveler navigate. As a vegetarian, I could use Waygo to avoid accidentally ordering a meat dish.
Waze (Free for iOS, Android and Windows)
What it is: A navigation app that uses crowdsourced info from other Waze drivers to direct you around traffic jams, accidents, etc.
How it works: You click the menu after launching the app, select Navigate and type in an address or destination. If you aren't certain of an address, Waze can search for you and offer other search engine options.
Why it's great: Waze can take the headache out of driving in a busy city because it steers you around traffic jams, crashes, speed traps and other road problems. Waze is fantastic for situations in which you are meeting someone, because you can message or email your ETA. Or you can transmit a link to your live route and let them monitor your progress. If you connect Waze with your Facebook account, it picks up addresses for events that you are attending. And what really rocks is that Waze is available in many nations around the globe, including Australia, Canada, China, Europe, India, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa. A child with a smartphone can send a link to his location if he can't spell an address.
RockMyRun (Free for iOS and Android, with a fee for premium content)
What it is: An app that provides great song mixes to motivate and inspire a run or other physical activities. It's great for active travelers who like to have music when exploring a destination.
How it works: You launch the app and can stream a mix live or play a downloaded mix, which is great when you are overseas relying on free Wi-Fi. Free membership provides mixes that are 45 minutes or less. Premium membership makes the app ad-free, provides access to longer premium mixes and permits users to adjust the beats per minute of a mix. Premium membership costs $35.99 annually or $4.99 per month.
Why it's great: Instead of having you run on empty, RockMyRun motivates you to run, walk, hike or bike faster by listening to mixes created by DJs from all over the world. Often when I listen to my own playlist on iTunes, I must skip songs when the beat doesn't match my pace. RockMyRun mixes move seamlessly from one song to the next and helps me keep my cardio rate up. The app recently has been tweaked for iOS with Mybeat technology that allows for a mix tempo to match your pace.
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