These travel apps will take you places

GeoReader

For: Android; iPhone version in the works; mygeoreader.com; free

What it is: It's a tour guide inside your phone. As you approach a landmark, GeoReader will read aloud your approximate distance from a historical landmark and facts from its historical marker as long as the information has been put in the GeoReader database by you or someone else.

Why it's great: On your road trip (driving, walking or biking), you'll learn about landmarks you never knew existed. You might even be tempted to stop a moment to check out the historical marker or site, letting you get more out of your road trip. While the current place is being described, tap "see details" to get a Web link and/or photo, if they have been provided beforehand. You can easily create your own so-called Talking Points to share with other GeoReader users around the world.

Why you might hesitate: There's no way to pause or repeat a Talking Point. The text-to-speech synthesizer can be a little difficult to understand. Some of the information has no context: For instance, you'll hear "Bohemian National Cemetery, approximately 1,364 feet. National Register of Historical Places" and that's it. Unless you remember to clear your listening history, you won't hear Talking Points repeated (for instance, on the return trip).

Whom it's for: the road-tripper who likes stumbling upon the unexpected.

MedScape from WebMD

For: Android and iPhone; medscape.com; free

What it is: a robust medical reference for health professionals

Why it's great: This trusted source of drug interactions and drug references is handy for domestic and international travelers. It's ranked the No. 1 free app for medical professionals by the senior editors at iMedicalApps after sorting through more than 1,000 free medical apps.

Why you might hesitate: Self-diagnosing can be nerve-racking, but when you're away from your doctor, an informed patient can be the best kind of patient.

Whom it's for: any traveler who might need medical assistance.

LogMeIn Ignition

For: Android, iPhone, iPad; logmein.com; $29.99

What it is: a way to access your Mac or Windows computer from your phone

Why it's great: Over WiFi, you can use your phone to see and use your Internet-connected computer as if you were on your computer (you can use 3G, too, with patience). So, no need to haul your laptop through security at the airport; you've got it on your phone. Buy the app, then go to logmein.com to download software to your laptop or desktop computer. Your software choices are LogMeIn Pro 2, which costs $69.99 a year (or $12.20 a month; less for access to multiple computers), or LogMeIn Free, a 30-day trial of LogMeIn Pro 2.

(After the trial, you can still use the software to log into your computer remotely, but you'll no longer be able to hear the audio from your computer, transfer files, print remotely or use other pro features.)

Why you might hesitate: A lot of people think a $29.99 app is expensive, let alone the prospect of paying $69.99 a year to access their computers remotely. Though using LogMeIn over WiFi works well, 3G use can be slow or unreliable. If you want to spend less and get fewer features, iPhone users should consider the Jump Desktop app. If all you want to do is stream video (i.e., movies with sound) from your computer to your phone, consider the Air Video app.

Whom it's for: business travelers for whom remote access to a computer is critical.

Eric Gwinn, Chicago Tribune

These travel apps will take you places 06/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 5:30am]

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