Travel and entertainment become priorities as summer approaches. So here are smartphone applications that smooth the way through an unfamiliar airport, or that find your favorite band performing at a nearby venue.
Get around unfamiliar airports with Gate Guru by Mobility Apps L.L.C. The free app for Android and Apple devices has terminal maps and a list of eateries, shops, ATMs, and other amenities, including reviews of the food, that you can filter by terminal within an airport.
Some airport "tips" will give you travelers' frank perspectives: "Sad little airport," says one comment on the Philadelphia International list. "Is it me or are all Philadelphians rude and ignorant?" Ouch. At least that guy got more thumbs-down reactions than he got thumbs-ups.
To make Gate Guru a true travel companion, send your flight-confirmation e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org and the app will log your journey, track your car-rental information (or streamline last-minute in-airport rentals), and keep stats on your miles traveled.
In addition, you'll get flight-status info, time- and gate-change notifications, and wait-time estimates for security lines.
Bandsintown, by Bandsintown Inc., is a way for Android and Apple users to get live concert information about the musicians you actually spend time listening to. Type in your location, or let the app find you via GPS.
Bandsintown logs the artists you listen to by probing your profiles on Facebook or Twitter, or your musical choices on music-listening services including Pandora, last.fm, and Spotify.
On the app, you'll see a screen full of the names of those artists. Tap a name and get concert information that's focused on where you are. Or tap "Tonight" to see if a band you like is appearing.
If a show looks good, tap again for details on the event, check out the venue (with map), and see other app users who are attending. From the app you can buy tickets and notify Facebook friends and Twitter followers that you are hooked up.
National Parks, for Apple devices, by National Geographic, is free, though you'll be offered detailed guides for individual parks for $1.99 each (or a full set for $12.99).
The free material includes plenty to get you excited about a National Park excursion: park photos and maps, directions, weather reports, and camping and lodging information, with links for making reservations. There are tips for taking great photos - such as to get started before dawn, when the animals are out and the tourists are still asleep.
A special 16-page section on summer activities such as concerts and dining, and a look at how the area is managing after Sandy.