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Tech Review: Travel apps for summer excursions and beyond

The Google Maps app is an indispensable companion

The Google Maps app is an indispensable companion on any trip. Credit: Google Play

With gas prices about $1 a gallon lower than last year, piling into the car for a summer excursion may be on your to-do list. These free apps can help make your outing more enjoyable whether it's a day trip or a long vacation.

Roadtrippers

(iOS, Android; free)

Roadtrippers can help you get to your destination quickly, but its real strength is getting you there slowly. The app has a database of more than a million attractions, and you can find what you want using a robust set of filters. The app is especially helpful for a leisurely Long Island day trip, where you can find attractions you weren't aware existed. The Long Island mansion used as Jordan Belfort's house in the movie "The Wolf of Wall Street"? You'll find it on this app.

Google Maps

(iOS, Android; free)

The constantly updated and always improving Google Maps is an indispensable companion on any trip. In addition to its namesake maps, the app has information on 100 million places worldwide along with GPS navigation. Tip: Pair your mobile device with your car audio system using Bluetooth and you'll get turn-by-turn navigation through the speakers.

TripAdvisor

(iOS, Android; free)

This popular app lets you find lodging, restaurants and attractions at thousands of locations worldwide. If you're on the road and getting tired or hungry, use the "Near Me Now" function to find a suitable hotel or good meal. You can comb through millions of reviews from other TripAdvisor users to find the perfect restaurant or filter results by cuisine or price range. If you're flying, you can compare airfares.

Wi-Fi Finder

(iOS, Android; free)

Found a vacation hot spot? Now find a Wi-Fi hot spot. With this app you can search for free and paid Wi-Fi hot spots in more than 500,000 locations worldwide, a big help to those with limited mobile data plans. You can filter results to only find free public Wi-Fi spots near your location. Because many of the hot spots are in the app's database, you can also search offline.


Tech bytes

On the beam

Looking for a way to boldly go answer the phone? A working replica of the Star Trek communicator used in the original series was unveiled at last week's Comic-Con (nwsdy.li/trek). The communicator pairs with smartphones via Bluetooth and allows you to answer calls. While you won't have to wait until the 23rd century to get one, it won't start shipping until January. Retail price is $150. -- PETER KING

Yahoo teams with Google

Yahoo is working with Google on a test that uses Google's search results and ads on Yahoo's site. Yahoo confirmed the initiative, while declining to comment further. Yahoo's search is currently powered by Microsoft's Bing. Yahoo and Microsoft renegotiated their agreement earlier this year, giving Yahoo more freedom over how it makes money from ads on search. -- BLOOMBERG NEWS

Met launches Android app

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has released an Android version of its app, nearly a year after it launched a popular iOS version. The app has information on exhibitions and special events and offers recommendations on what to see. Users can digitally explore the galleries and access maps of both the Met's building on Fifth Avenue and its Cloisters museum in Upper Manhattan. -- PETER KING

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