Gear We Like
Travel tech news: October 10, 2012
TomTom releases Android navigation app, Iran removes its Gmail block, the Curiosity Rover checks in from Mars and Skype starts rolling out free wifi across the UK.
All in this edition of Travel Tech News for October 10, 2012.
TomTom releases offline Android app … for people with old devices and lots of money
Good news if you’re planning on using your phone or tablet for driving directions overseas without racking up a huge roaming bill – TomTom, the well-known GPS manufacturer, has released an offline Android app to go with its existing iOS version.
The bad news? Well, there’s plenty of it. Let’s start with the price – at $40-$60 per region, the costs will quickly mount for global travellers. Storage space is an issue as well: the Western Europe version alone takes up 2.7Gb. Worst of all, many newer Android devices aren’t currently supported. If you have a device released in the last several months, there’s a good chance it won’t work due to a lack of compatibility with higher resolutions.
Still, if offline driving directions are something you need – especially if you’re only going to be in one part of the world – this is still probably a cheaper, better option than getting a GPS with your car rental.
Iran removes ‘involuntary’ Gmail block
In good news for travellers and locals alike, the Iranian government has removed the block on secure versions of Gmail and Google search that we mentioned two weeks ago. According to an official the block was ‘involuntary’, an apparent consequence of the ongoing ban on accessing YouTube within the country.
Personally, in Iran as in other countries with restrictive regimes, we’d still be using a VPN as much as possible regardless.
Check in from other planets
In a gimmicky but geekily-cool piece of news, the Mars Curiosity Rover checked in from the Gale Crater last week. Using the ever-growing location service Foursquare, the craft joked that it was ‘one check-in closer to becoming the Mayor of Mars’. Given that this was the first ever check-in from another planet (and only the second from space), we can’t see a great deal of competition for that title in the near future.
The rover even left a handy tip for those looking to follow in its mechanical footsteps, suggesting that they should bring sturdy shoes and plenty of oxygen. We’ll bear that in mind…
Free WiFi in UK high street stores, thanks to Skype
Travelling to the UK? Staying in touch will soon be easier thanks to Skype, which recently partnered with a hotspot provider to provide free WiFi in (currently unspecified) high street stores and businesses across the country.
Customers can sign in using their existing account to gain access to the internet, including – but apparently not limited to – the Skype app itself.
It often seems that the more ‘developed’ a country is, the harder it is to find free WiFi (see: Australia, New Zealand, parts of Europe), so anything that makes this easier in the UK – especially without having to jump through any hoops on sign-up – is just fine by us.