Windows Phone may be the new kid on the mobile block, but it's quickly shaping up to be a reliable platform for travelers. The user interface is one of the most beautiful out there, and a number of developers are embracing the new landscape to produce some incredible programs. Here are a few can't-miss downloads from the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Those who presently own a Lumia device should download the holy trinity of Nokia-built mapping apps: Drive, Transport and Maps. With Windows Phone 7.x, the only phones that can access these in the Marketplace are Lumia devices. With the release of Windows Phone 8 in the fall of 2012, however, all Windows Phone devices will be able to enjoy the spoils.
Nokia Drive is the undisputed champion of navigation on mobile. The killer feature? Offline mode! Drive enables users to download entire states or even countries to their handset before embarking on a journey. Once that's installed, driving or walking through a cellular dead zone won't be an issue. Moreover, if you travel overseas, you can safely disable that pricey data roaming and still have access to routing in any number of foreign locales.
If you need to know if a nearby eatery, activity or fuel station is worth your time, the free TripAdvisor app can assist. It's a beautifully designed program that taps into TripAdvisor's legendary database of user reviews. You can login and join discussions on the message boards as well, while also leaving your own ratings after you've experienced a hotel, restaurant, or place of entertainment.
VoiceTranslator is another free tool for Windows Phone users, with this one enabling you to speak into your device and have a textual translation shown on screen. This is highly useful for those who can ask a question to the phone in English, and have it translate on-screen for a confused receptionist to read. Alternatively, you could ask a foreign friend to speak into your phone and watch as it translates their sentences to your native tongue. The only catch is that you'll need an internet connection for the magic to happen. I'd recommend either a Wi-Fi hotspot offered in a hotel or coffee shop, or a rental SIM from the good folks at iPhoneTrip.
Have an iPhone or Android device? Hang tight! This is an ongoing series, and we’ll be covering other platforms soon! Our prior recommendations for Android can be found here.