Five Apps to Keep you Entertained and Informed

July 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re busier than ever. While we used to have to DVR our shows and catch up with them later — and before that, we videotaped them or made sure to sit down when they actually aired! — mobile devices now give us the opportunity to not only be entertained but informed, no matter where we are or what we’re doing.

We used to be held captive by the TV monitor at the airport gate area, now we can use some mobile apps to control the content we read, watch, or hear. While everyone knows about apps like Spotify, ESPN, and Netflix, we wanted to share some more unusual, lesser-known apps for your consideration as you’re on the go. You can use these while you’re in the car, on the plane, or just shuffling around your hotel room as you get ready for bed. And you can use them at home as well.

TuneIn Radio - One of the five best entertainment apps

TuneIn Radio

If you like listening to the radio, particularly to keep yourself updated about what’s going on in your hometown, TuneIn Radio allows you to hear your local commercial or NPR station from anywhere in the world. It will let you listen to any local radio station that also broadcasts on the Internet, as well as download podcasts and even listen to certain sporting events, like MLB, NFL, and even the World Cup.

The same is true for your local TV station and your local newspaper. An easy check in your app store will let you know if your local ABC, NBC, or CBS affiliate has an app where you can find local news. If your town’s newspaper doesn’t have its own app, you might be able to access it if it’s owned by Gannett Company. The publisher of USA Today also owns over 100 daily newspapers and over 1,000 weekly newspapers and offers this local content through its app. All these can provide you with a taste of home even when you’re away.

Six of our favorite entertainment apps for when you're on the road

Six apps to help you stay entertained and informed while you’re on the road.

If you want to stream content on your phone or tablet and protect yourself from being throttled by your data provider, you may want to look into VPN Unlimited. While not an app, this virtual private network service allows you to sign in and choose from a list of preselected servers in different countries. For example, you can access international content from these servers such as World Cup coverage in Iceland or the Olympics as they’re televised in Canada. For those who don’t have cable, this is one way to access premium sports coverage without paying. You’re just watching content provided by another country’s public access channels. Finally, if you’re traveling overseas and want to watch Netflix, you can’t, since Netflix doesn’t allow access to U.S content from outside the country. To work around that lockout, VPN Unlimited also has a dedicated Netflix server which allows you to watch your U.S.-based Netflix from anywhere in the world.

NPR One is the news junkie’s favorite app. Unlike the regular NPR app, which is sort of like a streamlined public radio-only version of TuneIn, the NPR One app lets you select the news, stories, and podcasts just for you. It’s like building your own NPR newscast. The regular NPR app is great for if you want to find your favorite classical, jazz, or eclectic music radio station (like KCRW’s Eclectic24 from Santa Monica, California), but I especially like NPR One for its focus on news and information.

What kinds of entertainment apps do you use to stay entertained and informed? How do you keep up with news from home or your favorite destination? Share them with us, the more esoteric the better! Leave us a comment on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter page.

Photo credit: Erik Deckers (Used with permission)

Five Ways to Watch TV & Movies while Traveling

October 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Binge watching is sometimesone of the only things that makes a long-haul flight, road trip, or long-distance traveling tolerable. If you want to catch up on your favorite TV series or stream a movie you didn’t see in the theater, you don’t have to be tech-savvy to access media content on the road. You just need to plan ahead.

1. Download content from Hulu or Netflix

You can watch Hulu Plus or Netflix on different electronic devices while traveling.While Hulu and Netflix are great for streaming your favorite shows and movies, they’ve both recently begun allowing people to download content to be watched later. Before you start traveling, while you’re still on wifi, download as many episodes or films as your device will hold (don’t forget to save room for photos on your phone!)

2. Buy it on iTunes

If you don’t have Netflix or Hulu, or the content you want isn’t available for download, see if you can find it on iTunes and buy or rent it there. If you buy it, you have the added bonus of always owning that content, so you can watch it over and over to your heart’s desire. But you can only watch the Netflix/Hulu content for a limited time. If it’s ever removed from the streaming services, your copy will be lost as well.
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Expect Faster Wifi on Airplanes

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a tech-savvy traveler, you likely have a wish list of technological advances you’d like to see in airplanes. Faster and/or free wifi, mobile device charging stations, free live television viewing, and more are all potential tech upgrades that many airlines are considering for their passengers.

Recently, the FCC took a step forward in improving wifi access for travelers. An air-to-ground wireless network is being proposed by Qualcomm, according to Bloomberg.com, and the FCC recently voted in favor of moving forward with the planning phase of this wireless network.

Sleeping on Turkish Airlines flight from Shanghai

Sleeping on Turkish Airlines flight from Shanghai to Istanbul in seat 3k (Photo credit: Toby Simkin)

So what does this mean for the average traveler? Nothing, yet. However, according to the article, the global market for in-flight technology and entertainment is estimated to grow to $3 billion in 2017. That’s a billion dollars in growth throughout the next four years, which likely means that not only will wifi be more readily available for passengers, it will be faster, and might even be free.

In a statement from Qualcomm, the broadband system they’re developing is designed to offer flyers an “in-flight broadband experience equivalent to what is available in their homes, offices, parks, cars, buses, and trains,” Qualcomm said.

Today’s travelers, especially the younger generation of road warriors, expect to be connected to the Internet at all times. Some people view flying time as a welcome respite from Internet connectivity, but that group of people is shrinking. Instead, travelers may want to put away their office email system during a flight, but instead they want to catch up on their Netflix queue. The proposed Internet system from Qualcomm could make this scenario a reality.

As of last year, just over 30 percent of airplanes were equipped for in-flight wifi, so there’s significant growth that needs to take place here. Some media pundits are worrying over the level of commitment to expect from each airline regarding the installation of in-flight internet services.

However, most airline industry experts agree that in time, wifi will have to be a standard offering on passenger aircraft if the airline wants to compete in the larger marketplace. Passengers who are traveling abroad or cross-country are expected to demand services like wifi and free live television viewing in the near future.

The next several years will bring a variety of technological advances into the airline industry. It will be interesting to see how Qualcomm’s proposed internet system will be developed and funded – and how quickly travelers begin using the new technological services being offered.

Personal In-Flight Entertainment via Mobile Devices

March 14, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Which is cheaper on a long-distance flight, buying the wifi and watching your own movies, or buying the in-flight entertainment service? What are some other alternatives? Loading a movie onto your tablet, laptop, or smartphone and watching that. What else?

A recent trend in air travel has been for airlines to more broadly allow in-flight technology use. In some cases, airlines even encourage customers to use their technology device of choice during flight. This approach to in-flight entertainment is following two airline industry trends: personalization and price competition. Given the recent trends in price transparency for air travel, airlines are beginning to compete on the ancillary add-ons they offer. Multiple in-flight movies, on-demand television shows, and live news broadcasts are just a few of the entertainment options to which travelers now have growing access.

Airlines are also now attempting to further personalize the technology options for their customers. This means offering individual televisions for each passenger with on-demand TV viewing, and also allowing customers to use their personal mobile devices such as phones and tablets to view live web content via the plane’s in-flight wifi access.

While some travelers view wifi as something that should be available on every flight, many businesses do not reimburse their employees for wifi access in-flight. Thus, adoption of in-flight wifi is currently seen as a differentiator instead of a standard offering. The question is not necessarily “if” in-flight entertainment via mobile devices and wifi will be standard on every airline, but “when.” While in-flight wifi isn’t yet the norm, it’s a growing trend that is gaining popularity and will undoubtedly be seen as an industry standard in the near future.

So, what’s the cost of all these entertainment offers to consumers? Frontier Airlnes offers DirectTV for as low as $3.99 and several airlines including Frontier and Alaska Airlines offer wifi at varying rates depending on the length of the flight, usually between $1.95 – $39.95.

On the other hand, depending on your entertainment subscriptions at home you could pre-load a movie or television show to your personal mobile device for viewing while you fly – and all it’ll cost you is your battery life.