Booking a flight is as easy as clicking your mouse or tapping your screen, but doing so still generates an irritating amount of confirmation numbers, reservation numbers, and so on. TripIt Travel Organizer Free (free) aims to cut through the clutter with a dead-simple app for storing all your necessary travel information right on your phone. I previously reviewed the Tripit for iOS, and it was fine, but on Android it truly shines.
In order to get your travel information, users forward confirmation emails to a special TripIt email address. This works not only with flight information, but hotel, restaurant, rental car, and other reservations as well. You can also provide TripIt with your email account's username and password and the system with "automagically" hoover your upcoming trip information and push it to the app. Paranoid users may not want to grant a service that much access, but using an application-specific password with Gmail works just fine.
Users can also manually enter flight information into the app, or on the website, but the dead-simple importing process is great and, really, half the product.
Where The Magic Happens
Once it has your travel information, TripIt organizes the details of your trips and places them on your phone for offline access. At the very top of the homescreen, the app displays "what's next" in your travel plan as well as when and where that happens. Tapping this will pull up more information about the next step in your journey, such as flight departure time and gate information. TripIt also ties into Google Maps on Android, providing maps of the surrounding areas in addition to the app's own maps of airport terminals.
TripIt also sports some collaboration options, allowing you and other travelers to edit a single itinerary. You can also send their itinerary to other people (like the poor rube picking them up from the airport) with a tap, saving you the trouble of sorting out which information to send whom.
Appearance Is Everything
When I reviewed TripIt Travel Organizer for iOS and was disappointed that the app was so drab and uninspired. On the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the Android version takes full advantage of the phone's large, bright screen and delivers a clean interface that surpasses the iOS version's cramped design. Some of the controls assigned to the menu button and onscreen buttons are a little unintuitive, but that kind of unpredictability seems to be part and parcel of the Android experience.
On the Nexus 7?tablet, TripIt really comes into its own?especially when viewed in landscape mode. You don't lose your place as bright, spacious panels slide from right to left at a touch. When it displays navigation information, big Google-powered Maps fill the screen. It's a solid design, and my only complaint is that the app doesn't support left and right swiping instead forcing users to use the device's back-button.
TripIt offers four tiers of interaction for users. Users uninterested in spending any money can use TripIt's core functionality for free with an ad-supported version of the app. TripIt also offers an ad-free version for $3.99. There's also a corporate-level, where companies can use TripIt to manage travel information for an entire business. Business travelers can also take advantage of TripIt's close integration with SmartExpense, to quickly and easily produce and expense report.
The Pro Problem
TripIt also offers a Pro membership for $48.99 per year, which can be purchased from inside the app or through TripIt's website. With a Pro membership, users can receive flight status information in real-time; track frequent-flier points and other travel-related rewards systems; and alternate flight suggestions should you need them. Pro users can also have travel updates pushed to a list of individuals automatically, so the rube who picks you up from the airport will be informed that your flight is delayed while you're still in the air.
The Pro membership is clearly the thrust of TripIt's business, as both versions of the app retain all the Pro-only icons. Most of these are clearly marked, and clicking on them will pull up an ad to upgrade your account. However, there are many Pro-only options and constantly being prodded toward signing up for an expensive membership can be extremely irritating.
It's important to recognize that while TripIt brings a lot to the table, there's a lot of things it won't do. For instance, it doesn't store scannable boarding passes, though you can check-in for your flight if you are a Pro user. It also won't make travel arrangements for you. If you?re organizing a new trip manually, you'll need to have already made your plans. Even the alternate flights option for Pro users will only provide you with times, flight numbers, and a phone number to rebook yourself.
TripIt does, however, add some features through its partnership with other app developers.
At its core, TripIt is basically a digital wallet with some nice extras. The Pro membership is certainly not worth it unless you are a frequent traveler, given the price and the tools it provides. That's not to undercut the app or the service, because simply having that peace of mind and ease of access can certainly take the edge off traveling. If you need a dead-simple way to organize your travel plans, TripIt delivers.
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