Follow that phone

Paper maps may be a long way from being superseded but a new generation of smartphone apps offers a range of innovative tools for travellers.

Peaks Knowing the name of every peak on the horizon has long been a cherished skill for those who fancy themselves as “mountain men”. That hard-won skill is now obsolete – point your smartphone camera at a ridge and the Peaks app (pictured left) will label each summit with name, altitude and distance from your current position.

Compass 360 This digital compass app comes with added extras including altitude, latitude and longitude, although serious walkers may baulk at the idea of relying on anything battery-powered.

Nearest Wiki Turns your phone into an “augmented reality” guidebook. Point the camera at an interesting building and the display will bring up a label with its name and a brief description. Tap the name and fuller details and history are displayed.

Star Chart Another shortcut to knowledge once built up over years, Star Chart displays the location, identity, distance and brightness of any star the smartphone is pointed at. Somewhat strangely, it also works in broad daylight, and pointing the phone down shows the night sky on the other side of the globe.

Plane Finder AR Point your phone at a plane in the sky and this app will reveal its flight number, origin and destination, speed, altitude and distance. It works using the ADS-B signals emitted by aircraft, a technology that is increasingly being used by air traffic controllers in addition to radar.

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