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Doug Lansky


There's an App For That: The 8 Least Useful Travel Apps You'll Want to Have Anyway

Posted: 08/05/10 11:30 AM ET

This time, the most recent, much-circulated Apple patent is for an all-in-one travel app.

iTravel would be some sort of magic wand that helps the user go from flight plan to hotel to pre-ordering hotel room temperature to a digital room key. It might not be able to apply sun lotion to your back, but I'm sure they'll have that worked out by the time 2.0 rolls out.

It's not like there's a shortage of extremely useful travel apps on the market. The biggest problem is that if you're traveling out of the country, you'll need to turn off your data roaming if you don't want to come back with a phone bill that surpasses the value of your plane ticket.

As I looked to create a travel app of my own, I wanted to make sure that it didn't use data roaming. I thought a light game would be nice, and something that required a few more IQ points to operate than iBeer or iFart. I ended up with game based loosely on a childhood favorite: Magic 8 Ball. I sketched it out, selected images from my funny sign collection (about 40,000 at this point after compiling the Signspotting book series) I thought would make a nice fit with possible answers and... oh, the small issue of writing the code.

Well, I've read enough of Tim Ferriss's "4-Hour Workweek" to know I could probably find someone in India who possessed that skill. After about 10 minutes of searching, I found a company called IndiaNIC. About 20 days and 20 emails after that, we had a nice little app that promptly got rejected by iTunes. Apple had changed the submission rules during our development period and wanted everything to work in landscape and portrait mode for universal (iPhone/iPad) apps. We fixed that, resubmitted and the app went live after a week.

With everyone going on and on about all these "useful" travel apps, I wanted to put together a little collection of the travel apps you absolutely don't need, but probably want anyway.

Sign Shaker
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If you like to travel, like funny signs, and enjoy the occasional fortune cookie or shake of the Magic 8 Ball, then this app is good for a quick laugh or party game. (Full disclosure: I should know, I created it.) $0.99
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