3 Free iPhone Apps for the Wayward Traveller

Someone once said that youth is wasted on the young. I'm not so sure I agree, especially now that I'm not so young anymore.

When I was young I had all of sorts of dreams. Many of them realized, and if were not for the dangerous innocence, foolhardy ignorance and boundless energy of my youth I doubt I would fully appreciate now what life has to offer.

Take travel for instance. I've been lots of places, seen lots of things, and got in and out of more scrapes than I care to admit only because I was stupid and blind enough to go—and quick in mind and body enough to escape—when things got hairy. And I revel in every memory.

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Nowadays I go where I want, pretty much when I want. I know what to avoid and can judge fairly well if the chance to discover is worth the risk. Usually it is. In fact, my thirst for adventure is becoming increasingly insatiable, and I feel tied down by the responsibilities of my work-a-day life. Fortunately my 9 to 5 allows me an occasional adventurous dalliance. However, I'm getting of the age now where more of my friends are retired and they have far more time to go off and do things, and it leaves me feeling a bit envious.

Ah well, my time will come (I hope). In the meantime I'll be happy with the casual trek to points unknown.

If you travel then you know that you can spend a lot of time waiting. Standing in this line for a ticket, that queue, for a meal, and on it goes. I don't mind standing in some lines because it gives me an opportunity to get a closer look at what's around me. At other times, however, a line can seem interminable and I need something to occupy my mind. A simple game sometimes fits the bill, but and other times I want more. You may too.

This week in Free on iTunes I'll take a look at three totally different apps that all share one common thread, they'll come in handy when you travel.

So, lets get to it.

Circa [13.9 MB, all iOS devices iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Circa 1605 Inc.]

CircaCirca's clean interface is a joy to use

Whether your plans for the day include kayaking in a local river or lake, or running from a herd of bulls through the streets of Pamplona, it's likely a good idea to keep tabs on the news. The problem is that reading news articles on any smartphone is a test of visual acuity and patience. Enter Circa.

This wonderful app takes top news stories, boil down the verbiage, and presents the results in quickly digestible pieces. It's not just a summary. The article is broken down into about 5 major sections and the key points for that section is offered.

circaEasy to read synopsis is perfect for small screens

The creators of Circa really put a lot of thought into their offering. Open an article and you get a summary, but as you scroll through the sections a briefing, in large typeface, is presented above that section of the article. Scroll to go the next section. You get all the takeaway points without the fluff. You also get photos where ever they add to the story, and a list of links to recommended articles and articles for further reading. You also get a list of links to where the info from the article came from. And you can bookmark an article for reading later.

Even better, Circa will email you a weekly digest of top stories. What's not to like?

circaList of references accompany all articles

Of course, you can get social with Circa, sharing articles through Facebook and like media, via text message, or email. You can also follow each article. And you can get notified of breaking news or stories you are following.

The list of news sections Circa offers is not as comprehensive as some other news aggregating services, but it's adequate.

Even if you don't travel you'll find Circa a good way to keep up on current events.

CityMaps2Go [24.4 MB, all iOS devices iOS 5.1 or later, Maker: Ulmon GmbH.]

CityMaps2GoOffline maps complete with point of interest

Google Maps are great for finding your way around unfamiliar places, but when you're visiting a foreign country data roaming fee can kill the joy of any vacation. That's why you need CityMaps2Go.

Select cities on your itinerary and download them onto your phone or tablet and you are ready. No data roaming fees! You don't even need Wifi if all you need is the map service.

CtyMaps2GoBut you only get the area you asked for, so don't stray

There are other services, however, that do require some form of Internet connectivity, like Wikipedia Travel Guide links, which can be a great way to discover stuff.

Another nice thing about CityMaps2Go is that you don't have to buy anything else. All the maps they offer are free. There are no upgrades to worry about either. It's all free.

But nothing is ever truly free and so it is with CityMaps2Go. They would like to track you whenever you use the app. Though you can opt out, some folks will be immediately turned off by this. If so, this app isn't for you. But if you don't mine them using you as a data point, you could do a lot worse than this app.

Translate Professional [13.8 MB, all iOS devices iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Traduko AB.]

Translate ProTranslate Professional's offline phrasebook makes it a useful companion

You're in a foreign country, you don't speak the language well and it would sure be nice if you had a translator. Of course you can use Google Translate, but those pesky data roaming fees may make you think twice about using your phone to ask for directions. That's where Translate Professional comes in handy.

Pick a language and download and away you go. I need to tell you up front that interactive translation DOES require an Internet connection, but the app comes with an extensive phrase book where you can hear the English and the canned translation of dozens of common phrases.

translate ProAnd you have a lot of categories to pick from

If you do want the interactive translator you'll note the it's not particularly speedy, but that's dependent on the speed of your connection.

Another unique feature is that you can save translations for offline use. There is a gotcha here, however, to hear what you've saved you have buy a voice. I guess they have to make money some way.

Still, Translate Professional can come in handy, so check it out.

That's a wrap for this week.

Please be sure to check out John Newman's single Love Me Again. It's the free featured music single on iTunes. And race fan will cheer about the free Asphalt 8: Airborne app, this week's Free App of the Week. Vrooom!