TestingCatalog beta Community Report 📲 Google Pixel XL 2, Android 8.1.0

Recently I was travelling from Berlin to Barcelona and I decided to keep track of the apps I used during my trip. I think that it may be helpful to some of you who wants to travel in a smart way, especially around Europe. This time I managed to get to my destination very quickly and without any surprises which sometimes happen to all of us. It could be unclear where to go or you just had to wait for an extra hour just because you missed your train 🧐

Before this trip, I checked the address of my destination and connections between train, bus and plane.

I want to write about each app from the perspective of usefulness and importance and translate my personal opinion into the rating.

Preparation phase

This is the list of apps I used before I actually left my home.

  • Booking Beta - I am using this service to book hotels for 5 years already. Having the app helps because you don't have to load the website every time. All information is easily accessible from the app after you log in and load your data for the first time. This time I just used it to check the address of my destination (the day before the trip of course).

  • Google Maps Beta - after getting the address I go to Google Maps (on the web) to plan the route. As I am living in Berlin and I am new to Barcelona, I only need to plan the route from the airport to the destination itself. Usually, it is a bus or a train. After choosing the route, I share it with my phone. The route link should open the same route on the app. This route can be now saved as a shortcut on your home screen.

  • Spotify Beta - as I have no roaming in EU I can have internet access during the whole trip. At the same time I don't want to spend all my traffic limits and I usually just use download option of Spotify premium to get all podcasts and tracks beforehand. I am quite bad at reading from the phone on the road and listening to the podcast helps me to keep my information consumption on the average daily level.

  • Pocket Beta - during the flight, I like reading and this is how I do it. I always have 1000+ unread articles in my Pocket app but I am also trying to search for something new and relevant to my current needs in advance.

At this point my preparation is ready and I can just focus on packing my backpack. As a result, I have: Prepared and saved routes on Google Maps, downloaded podcasts and music tracks on Spotify and saved articles to read in my Pocket app.

Uber, BVG, Ryanair, Google Maps

Travel phase

Let's go! The night flight usually doesn't give you much time to look around and things should happen quickly.

  • Uber Beta - as I am ready to go, I can just call an Uber driver to get to the train station. Alternatively, I could take a bus but last time we missed our train and we had to take Uber instead of the train in any case. This time we got lucky with getting an electric car - Hyundai KONA Electric. I like electric cars much more because they are super quiet and the air inside is fresh compared to petrol cars. We use one Uber account with my wife and every time we have a ride, the second of us can always check the route and the progress from his screen. I like this feature because it is very easy to stay on track without asking anyone. It is quite handy when you are trying to find your car for example 😜

  • BVG - so, we got on time as expected. BVG is a local app for Germany which has schedules and useful info about public transport. You can just set your starting point (or locate yourself by geo-position) and destination to see all possible options to get from point A to point B. This allows you to plan your route quite precisely especially if you want to use a train. Apart from the schedule, you can buy a train ticket inside the app as well. It uses PayPal as a payment provider but you don't need an extra app installed in this case. I also have PayPal installed and usually, it sends me a push notification 20 seconds after the purchase (that the purchase was successful). The whole process takes around 30 seconds and we can simply take our spots inside the train and relax for the next 30 minutes. We took a regional train which is quite fast and doesn't have any stops. I like trains in general and especially if they are modern 🚉

  • Ryanair Beta - I use this app as a ticket in the first place. I have my phone with me while I am in the airport in any case so having my tickets in the app is quite handy because I don't need to keep printed version with me all the time. A ticket is a simple QR code which you need to scan everywhere. We arrived early and passed all queues very quickly so we've got some time to sit in the waiting zone and check our socials. Ryanair is a low-coster company and they don't offer any food during the flight unless you want to buy it as an extra option. I usually want, especially when it is an early flight. Lavazza coffee ☕️ is my favourite option over there. The main point is that you can use the app to browse all possible food options and you can just do a quick order when it comes to that point.

  • Google Maps Beta - the flight is over and we are outside of the airport. This is the time when I can simply use my shortcut to the route on Google Maps. I am usually ok with navigation but sometimes you need to use Street View option in order to find a bus stop. This time it was quite easy to find where to go but despite this fact, I wanted to test out a new AR navigation feature. It worked well and pointed me in the right direction. I also used Google Maps to check a bus number, the schedule itself and the time on the road. As overall feedback from the whole journey - I can say that you shouldn't rely on Google Maps when it comes to public transport schedules because it doesn't show you everything (This is also one of the reasons why you want to use a local BVG app for such case in Germany).

  • Booking Beta - this is the last step in the whole journey. You want to check-in in the hotel and you want to do it as quick as possible. Usually, the app is not needed but sometimes you can be asked to show your booking confirmation. Additionally, you may receive a message from the hotel regarding your additional requests if you sent any or in case if they sent you additional information (about the parking for example).

  • Pocket Beta & Spotify Beta - both apps I used in the transport to read my articles and listen to podcasts. There is nothing special here but these two are definitely important to me because I used them for the much longer time than all other apps during the travel.

Vacation phase

The vacation time for me is a perfect time to do something for TestingCatalog because I have much more free time than when I work for full-time on my main job. Apart from that, it is a good chance to test some apps!

  • Komoot Beta - I use it almost every time we are getting somewhere because we usually spend some time hiking. This time I was wondering if there will be anything new compared to the version I used a year ago. I didn't find anything completely new but the app worked well in general. Last year I complained about the battery usage and I didn't notice this problem this time which is a good sign. Just in two words on "what it does" - it allows you to search for tracks nearby and also it can record your own track so you can always check it later. It is quite similar to the Strava app (Which I use for cycling) but I like Komoot more when it comes to hiking.

  • FORM Beta - at first, I read about it on Twitter, checked if it has a beta version and got excited to try it out. I was trying to find a good app for swimming for a while but in the end, I discovered that FORM requires special smart goggles to make it work. So this app wasn't a solution for me and I simply continued using Strava to track swimming activities manually. I also discovered that my MI band 3 doesn't support swim tracking while MI band 4 has this feature and now I want to try it out.

  • Google Maps Beta - and of course I used Google Maps to find restaurants and to check their rating. I don't use apps like Yelp or TripAdvisor mostly because Google has a good amount of ratings for most places and their matching algorithm is quite good as well.

Google Maps, Spotify, Komoot, FORM

App ratings and links

I've tried to rate them based on usefulness during the travel for myself where 5 is a must-have and 1 means - not needed at all.

[1] FORM Beta - it doesn't make it a bad app (it is a well-made app) but in my context, it was not useful.

[2] Ryanair Beta - simply a screenshot of your ticket can serve the same function and you can also survive without an online menu and just ask staff on the plane about the options.

[2] Booking Beta - all information should also exist in your email and you don't need a standalone app to access it.

[3] Komoot Beta - I gave it 2 at the beginning but after that, I realised that it won't be fun to stuck in the middle of the track in case if you lost the road (which can happen if you will get caught by the bad weather for example). Besides that, this app belongs to the "Entertainment" category to me and not a "Must-have".

[3] Pocket Beta - this is another entertainment app which I like but I would probably just have a nap without it.

[3] Spotify Beta - Same here, I like having a nap 😴

[4] BVG - you can check the schedule on Google Maps and buy a ticket on the station but this app just makes this process much more straight-forward. I would rather give up on "Entertainment" apps rather than this one but not having it is not the end of the world either.

[5] Uber Beta - this one is a must because you need an app to get a taxi these days in any case. And it makes this process so much easier and faster at the same time. Additionally, getting a taxi during the travel could be an urgent case (if you are in a hurry) and the Uber app helps here a lot.

[5+] Google Maps Beta - travelling with Google Maps and without is a completely different experience from my point of view. Having a way to navigate quickly in any situation makes your journey much more relaxed. Access to the info about public transport helps a lot as well.

This time I tried to make my post in a sort of "lifestyle" post rather than just having a plain app review. Did you like it more? Let me know what do you think in comments!

Do you use these apps when you travel as I do?

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About authors:
We are a team of Android enthusiasts exploring top beta apps on daily basis. You can find more info about the author on Alexey's profile page.
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