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We spent spring break at a two-day conference in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area and discovered again how much we rely on our mobile devices and apps. If, like us, you travel with a smartphone and tablet, you may already be using these apps.

As we enjoyed breakfast at our hotel, the news was on, but muted. I asked if they could turn up the volume; instead, the manager showed me an app called Tunity, which lets you hear the audio on your phone. Open the app, aim your phone at the television, tap the button to scan and it finds the station and plays the audio through your phone.

Our library conference started using the Sched app several years ago. With Sched, you select your conference sessions and then generate a daily schedule. You get an email with your schedule for each day, which you can add to your i- Phone’s note pad or home page.

On our trip we also used Lyft, which, like Uber, is an alternative to taxis. It uses GPS to match drivers with people needing rides nearby. It shows when your ride is getting closer and gives you a description of the car and the driver’s name. We were a few minutes early for our reservation at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, where we met friends and enjoyed a wonderful meal. We could have used apps like Around Me and Yelp to give the restaurant an excellent rating. We frequently use those apps to locate the next gas station, restaurant or store.

After enjoying a live comedy show, we used the Lyft app again to schedule our ride back to the hotel. Payment, including the tip, is done through the app using your credit card information.

I took my iPhone, iPad and Kindle Fire on the trip. The first day of the conference, I packed a small bag with the iPad and clipped my iPhone to a pocket of my jacket. I checked email and Facebook, as well as the conference app Sched throughout the day. In between sessions, I used my iPhone and Fit Bit to track time and steps.

The second day, I left the iPad behind and took the Kindle Fire, which was fine until we got to one session where we needed to access a shared Google document, which wasn’t possible on the Kindle. So, both of us switched devices and used the Google Drive app on our iPhones. If you don’t already do it, loading important travel documents on your Google drive before leaving home is a great strategy.

While my iPad Air is my favorite device to take on the road, I love my Kindle Fire for its small size, and use it to check email, post on Facebook, read books on the Kindle app or browse the web. I downloaded a new app called JotterPad at the conference so I could take notes. I take both tablets on most trips, and when one needs charging, I switch devices. Mike got his Kindle Fire HD for Christmas, and it may be one of the better Christmas gifts I’ve gotten him. He likes the small size, overall performance and the value.

With all of those devices, I travel with a small charging unit and several phone chargers, as well as a dual plug car charger. We’ve come a long way since 2009, when Mike and I got our first iPhones and put the Trac phones into a drawer.

Cherie Dargan is a retired communications professor at Hawkeye Community College.


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