Tag Archives: waiting times

Hurry Up and Wait

Flight tracker apps are great for checking the status of your flight, but what about the sheer stress you encounter before you actually get on the plane? Yes, we’re talking about the summer travel season and all the recent news stories about horrific waits in security lines. Things seem to have gotten slightly better with the lines, but still. You may not be able to avoid that annoyance, but you can at least plan for it. If you’re getting ready to take to the skies for your summer vacation, we here at Pop Tech Jam HQ have a few app suggestions.

For starters, you have to get to the airport first.

Salk International’s $5 Airport Transit Guide for Android and iOS offers insider travel information for 460 airports around the world for helping you get to the airport on time.

inrixIf you’re traveling domestically, traffic apps like Inrix Traffic (left) and Waze, both for Android and iOS, are among the dedicated road travel apps that tell you how long it will take to get to your destination — if you don’t want to use the services offered by Google Maps or Apple Maps. The WhatsBusy site, which is devoted to when there are lines in public places, has a section devoted to airports.

Then there’s the part of the journey that happens once you get inside the airport: Security lines. (Whee.)

You can help speed some of the process by checking in early for your flight online through your carrier’s own app or website. If you do, you can leave pre-checked luggage at the Bag Drop station and move on to the joy of the security line.

myTSAAlthough the Transportation Security Administration has been pummeled in the press for being a large part of the recent problem, its digital offerings may help travelers prepare themselves for the screening experience in a few of ways. The My TSA mobile website provides answers about what you can bring through airport security checkpoints so you’re not the cause of a snarled and snarly line; an Android app version of My TSA is available, as well as a version for iOS.

The TSA site/app also has a list of current security line wait-times, and an indicator if the airport has a TSA Pre-✓ expedited line. (Pre-✓ = Pre-Check. Get it?) You can sign up for TSA Pre-✓ or one of the government’s other Trusted Traveler programs over at the Department of Homeland Security’s site, although registration includes you providing an $85 and your fingerprints.

If you like guv’ment apps, the Federal Aviation Administration has its own mobile website with airport status and delays related to conditions outside the terminal.

miflightNewer apps like MiFlight for iOS are also designed to give you an idea of the wait times you’re in for once you hit the security line. MiFlight has nifty graphics and makes use of crowd-sourced data, but owners of some iPhone models have posted one-star reviews complaining of app crashes. Several developers make TSA and airport-related programs, so check the app store dedicated to your mobile platform to see the selection.

Once you make it through the security gauntlet, you might have some time to kill thanks to your careful planning. The GateGuru app for Android, iOS and Windows Phone might help here. Although GateGuru can function as an itinerary-tracking app while you travel, its Airport Card screens provide detailed information, maps and tips for the airports you’re in.

iFly Airport Guide for Android and iOS is another airport terminal guide with status updates. There’s a free and a pro version, depending on your whims and needs. The company also makes a TSA Wait Times by iFly app, which is $4 for  iOS.

Certain airports may have their own  terminal guides as well, so check your app store before you go. Once you get checked in, arrive at the airport and get through the security line,  you can fire up your flight tracker app and check your plane’s status.

ragerAnd remember, if you’re dissatisfied with your recent travel experience, the US Department of Transportation has a webform where you can file complaints against the airlines for safety and security reasons, along with customer service issues. It may not do any good, but you can also inform your airline’s customer-service department of your displeasure. You can find the Consumer Complaint Letter Wizard and a sample complaint letter to use as a template over at USA.gov, because if you’re going to gripe, you may as well do it officially.

PTJ 152 News: Roll The Windows Down

At last! Windows 10 was released this week and the early reviews are now rolling in. The Wall Street Journal said “Windows is actually useful again, assuming you still rely on a PC,” and “If you knew how to use Windows XP back in 2001, you’ve have no problem finding your way 5tharound Windows 10.” (So much for the Modern interface way of doing things.) The Verge chimes in with “Windows has a cycle. Windows XP saved us from Windows ME, Windows 7 saved us from the Windows Vista mess, now Windows 10 is here to save us from Windows 8. It’s nice to be on the good part of the cycle.”  (If you live in New York City,  you can go Windows shopping this fall, as Microsoft has plans to finally open that long-planned flagship Fifth Avenue store.

Samsung has a party of its own planned for New York. The company’s “Unpacked” media event is scheduled for August 13 and may include announcements of new phones are maybe even the company’s virtual-reality headset.

Google+ Photos got kicked to the curb last week and now we’re seeing signs of the Google+ empire getting further dismantled. The company announced this week that it was doing away with the requirement to have a Google+ profile in order to use many Google services like Gmail and YouTube. (While Google+ was busy extracting itself from other Google services, the department did have some time to do a little study on promotional app interstitial advertisements.)

Google Search rolls out new feature that hows the “popular times” for restaurants and other venues known to have lines — so you can avoid those lines. (Google uses crowd-sourced congestion data to get the information.) And if you use the Google app on an Android phone, you can say “OK, Google” and have it send messages using WhatsApp, Vivber and other texting apps.

Speaking of Android, new phones are in the works. Motorola, now owned by Chinese electronics maker Lenovo, has just announced the Moto X Pure Edition and the Moto Play, unlocked Android smartphones that will cost $400 and $180 respectively. And if you’re looking for a big-featured, lower-priced smartphone, the OnePlus 2 — dubbed the 2016 Flagship Killer — is on the way.

hackdroidNot all is groovy in Android Land, however. Researchers at Zimperium have uncovered a security flaw in Android 2.2 and later that makes it possible to get hacked through a malware-infected text message. Patches have been written but are slow rolling out, given the huge number of carriers and companies who make the estimated 950 million Android phones out there.

Apple reported big fat profits in its quarterly earnings statement last week, and signs point to the Apple Watch doing better than anticipated. While it won’t likely be the overhyped posh personalized shopping journey as the Apple Store offers, Best Buy will start selling the Apple Watch on August 7th.

After a month of turmoil, Reddit has lost another high-profile female employee. Jessica Moreno, the head of community for the site, has given notice.

Pandora is making its Sponsored Listening option available to all its advertisers. This now means listeners can get an hour of ad-free listening if you agree to watch a video ad ahead of time. No you do not get to pick the movie yourself.

nsaThe National Security Agency is going to start wiping those bulk phone records it’s been hoovering up as part of the Patriot Act. In June, President Obama signed a law called the USA Freedom Act that prevents the NSA from storing the phone records and forces the agency’s investigators to request the files form the phone companies if they are needed for a case. The NSA will stop using the existing records by November 29th.

In other government news, New York Senator Chuck Schumer announced he want to provide $60 million dollars in funding for a technology that would disable a car if it senses the driver is drunk. The technology here is called Driver Alcohol Detection System for chuckSafety, or DADDS and the bill, which was introduced earlier this summer in the House as well, is called The Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcohol-related Fatalities Everywhere (ROADS SAFE) Act of 2015. DADDS uses breath and touch sensors to determine a driver’s blood alcohol level and disable a vehicle if the level is above the legal limit.

And while we’re talking about cars, Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.4 million cars and trucks to update software that has been proven vulnerable to hackers — a concept they’ve been proving at DefCon since at least 2013.

kittAnd finally, more cars! ThinkGeek is making fans of Knight Rider very happy. The company just released its KITT USB Car Charger that looks just like the light-up voicebox in the car from the iconic 1980s TV series staring David Hasselhoff and the voice of William Daniels. The $30 dashboard attachment provides two USB ports for charging your gear on the go, along with 11 different audio clips from the show.
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