It’s been a 12 months of discovering the journey delights by yourself doorstep, or not removed from it. For me, residing in west London, the eye-openers inside an hour or so’s drive have been the Surrey Hills, the South Downs and West Wittering seashore, south of Chichester (particularly in case you stroll to the west, away from the crowded bit) – which is well as beautiful as seashores I’ve travelled 10,000 miles to get pleasure from.
My fixed companion on these close-to-home adventures has been a stupendously good app, ViewRanger, from a Cambridge firm that has joined forces with Ordnance Survey. OS maps for me have at all times been related – going proper again to Scout hikes – with huge quantities of paper flapping infuriatingly in the wind, and with the place you need to discover being half on one map and half on one other, which you don’t have and might’t pay money for as a result of it’s a Sunday within the Yorkshire Dales.
So the start line of ViewRanger is fairly game-changing: you may have the complete suite of OS maps obtainable in your telephone, pill or smartwatch (they’re additionally downloadable for offline use on telephones and tablets). As with Google Maps, you may zoom out and in simply and also you seem as a transferring dot, which ends without end the head-scratching enterprise of attempting to work out the place the heck you might be.
However ViewRanger presents extra nonetheless: rural and metropolis trails; satellite tv for pc views of the place you’re mountain climbing. And there’s an augmented-reality characteristic whereby, in hundreds of well-known landscapes, you may maintain your telephone digicam up and have landmarks and factors of curiosity highlighted and defined.
ViewRanger additionally works in France, Eire, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, in every case partnering with the OS equal. Merging actuality with an OS map isn’t just a map fan’s dream, however able to making a map nerd – and a tech nerd – out of essentially the most Luddite rambler.
ViewRanger, £25 a 12 months, viewranger.com
Simultaneous voice translation in your ears
Google’s newest true-wireless earphones are nice for listening to music, however that’s not the chief cause to purchase its Pixel Buds. There are, the truth is, two principal causes, each associated to journey. The primary is that the Pixel Buds provide you with immediate, seamless on-the-hoof entry to Google Assistant. With these hidden discreetly in your ears, by successfully speaking to your self you may summon up Google Assistant to ask just about something on the planet.
Extra importantly, Pixel Buds supply simultaneous voice translation to an accuracy of, I’d say, 80 to 95 per cent, throughout greater than 40 languages. Now, this being actual life and never Star Trek, there are caveats. You’ll be able to solely activate translation (and Google Assistant) with an Android telephone. And also you want the telephone handy to talk your traces.
So why not lower out the earbuds and use the telephone by itself? In observe, it’s way more pure, conversational – and now, after all, socially distanced – to have the interpretation beamed straight into your ears moderately than crouching over your telephone with the particular person you’re speaking to. Not an ideal system, but it surely’s essentially the most handy and efficient I’ve but encountered.
Google Pixel Buds, £179, retailer.google.com
A brand new challenger for the journey toothbrush crown
A 12 months will be a very long time in gadgetry. In summer season 2019 I reported on Quip, a journey toothbrush from Brooklyn, and rated it essentially the most fashionable and handy I had seen. I’ve used my Quip all over the world with some delight. Now, although, I’ve discovered a mild, super-compact journey brush that makes the nonetheless glorious Quip each appear and feel a bit dated.
Poma Brush appears unremarkable at first. It has not one of the techie twiddles, meters and apps of extra refined dental equipment. The one fancy characteristic, which is pretty commonplace today, is a two-minute timer. It additionally has an enormous battery life – Poma claims 4 months per cost. I’ve been unable to confirm the battery life as I haven’t but taken it on in a single day journeys.
However everybody who sees the Poma Brush and handles it loves it. As to the bristles, they’re made from a rubbery silicone which feels exceptionally mushy, however you may inform from the clean-teeth and massaged-gums afterglow that, after buzzing away like an offended bee at 15,000 strokes a minute, the machine does the enterprise, after which some.
Poma Brush, £119, pomabrush.com
Replay your vacation – within the spherical
It was on the Client Electronics Present in Vegas in 2013 that I noticed a product from the esteemed Ricoh in Japan that was so seemingly pointless I didn’t even trouble to remove a leaflet. The Ricoh Theta 360-degree mini-camera, which took actually head-spinning images from all angles on the identical time, was intelligent, but it surely was exhausting to consider any approach you could possibly present the images it captured. Instagram, its pure medium, had solely been going for 3 years at that stage.
Virtually eight years later, Vecnos, a Japanese startup spun out of Ricoh, has taken the Theta and run with it. The Iqui now makes excellent sense within the Instagram/Snap/TikTok-dominated world through which brief video clips are forex in each social and business life. The Iqui doesn’t shoot video, however stitches a sequence of stills collectively into an MP4 movie. Youngsters will like it as a approach of capturing their holidays, as certainly will your enterprise’s social-media staff, for whom micro movies with non-compulsory AR results – clouds of bubbles and the like – are advertising gold.
Vecnos Iqui, £299, vecnos.com