Lack of iPad-Specific Apps Hampers Travel Planning

Article excerpt

Byline: Tamara Lush Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- As a new iPad owner, many of my iPad fantasies involved using the device for entertainment while traveling.

I could see the iPad on an airplane tray table feeding me movies, books and music. I imagined the iPad in Rome, offering me tidbits of Vatican history as I sipped espresso. Downloaded games would squash my boredom while waiting at the Miami airport. In Las Vegas, it could suggest where to eat during a convention.

But I hadn't thought much about using the iPad as a travel-planning tool until I sat down to book a vacation to Italy.

Instead of using a laptop to buy tickets, I decided to try doing it on the iPad. My goal was to find the cheapest tickets from Tampa or Orlando, Fla., to Rome, for September, and also to look at hotel options, car rentals and a guidebook. I decided to download some apps to try, all free except for the guidebook.

I could have done my booking and searching without downloading apps, by connecting directly to travel websites using the iPad's Internet connection. But while some websites look virtually identical on the iPad compared to a conventional computer screen, other sites don't display as well on the iPad. Naturally, apps designed specifically for the device format better, are easier to use, and take advantage of certain features.

Unfortunately, at the time I was planning my trip, many of the big travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity had not yet developed apps specifically for the iPad. As a substitute, I tried using iPhone apps for those sites.

The results were disappointing. …