It's the start of a new year, which is an ideal time to take a look at the phone in your pocket and reconsider your app collection – particularly for travel, as you plan for all of your 2013 trips. If you’re still looking for ways to use your new (or old) Android phone or tablet to make your vacations more organized, look no further.
Built and maintained by Google's own Niantic Labs department, Field Trip is without question one of the best travel-related Android apps to ever surface. And best of all, it's completely free. Designed for the argonaut in all of us, this app can run in the background and then notify you when you're in the vicinity of something interesting. It uses your current position and crosses that with its vast database of points of interest, acting as a "guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you." You can use it in a growing number of cities, or enable the random mode for a bit of spontaneity. Even if you aren't planning to leave your hometown for some time to come, give this one a download – it may lead you to find a few local places of note that you hadn't seen before.
Regardless of whether you're heading overseas, or are simply looking to brush up on a language that you were supposed to learn in high school, Google Translate is another must-have program. This free app can translate words and phrases in over 60 languages, and because it's powered by Google, you can actually trust the results. Most words can be translated from voice, but even if your phone has a tough time understanding you, you can peck things in via the on-screen keyboard. The highlight feature here is offline mode: while you can't store 60+ dictionaries on your phone, you can easily store select words and phrases in an offline repository. In other words, put some thought into phrases you'll need before you head off!
Finally, I'd strongly recommend adding Layar to your collection. It's a similar to Google Goggles, which I suggested you download in last quarter's app guide. It's an augmented reality program that uses your camera to "see" objects, signs, and places, and then searches the Internet for related results. By allowing your smartphone's camera to see signs and objects, you'll be instantly given associated data pulled from the Web in order to help you make better decisions and be more informed about your surroundings. The possibilities for knowledge here truly are as limitless as they seem.
Our prior recommendations for Android can be found here, while recommendations for iPhone can be found here.