Years ago, when I initially became acquainted with the world of Windows Mobile, Fizz Software was among the first developers whose programs became fixtures on my Dell Axim. Since that time, Fizz has released a number of programs for both Windows Mobile and the iPhone. Their most recent release, Fizz Traveler for iPhone, not only storms past the Windows Mobile version, but may just be their best and most useful program yet. Interested? Let’s take a closer look
Setup and Settings: Before we get started with Fizz Traveler, you are going to need to do a little bit of setup work. Not a lot, but just enough to get it customized to your needs. Pretty much all of the important features in this program are based on knowing your current location, or the location where you plan to go.
So, from any screen, just tap that “i” in the bottom right corner. This will bring up the cities page. By default, you will find Cupertino, Ca. and London, England. But let’s be honest here, most of you will not need those cities. So, you can go ahead and delete them.
To add new cities, just tap the plus, and enter your city name or zip code. You can select the correct entry from the list. Pretty easy, and extremely accurate. My town, Bristow, did not appear when I typed it in, but showed right up when I inputted the zip code. I have always appreciated the fact that Fizz offers multiple means of selecting your city. many programs require me to settle for a nearby town, or even Washington, D.C. (30 miles away from home.) But not Fizz.
The other thing I liked was that the settings (not only the cities, but also the measuring units) were universal within the program. This means that once you select a setting, it will apply to all screens within the program, not just one. I have used far too many programs which make you choose settings for each screen individually. This makes FizzTraveler stand out as one of the easiest travel program to use.
Today: OK, let’s get into the program. The entry point for FizzTraveler is the Today screen. This screen will show you the current time, in a nice, full screen clock (which I wish I could have made into my lock screen wallpaper) and weather…anywhere in the world. if you have stored multiple cities in the settings, then a quick swipe of the screen will move you along to the next city on your list.
You can also customize this screen by switching to one of six different clock faces (three analog and three digital.)
Or by tapping the weather to toggle over to a calendar. Unfortunately, this calendar is read-only, so it cannot be used to review the appointments and other items added on the itinerary screen, which would have made this a significantly more useful program
I thought this screen offered a fantastic entry point to the program, giving you exactly the information most people want right now – My only complaint is the lack of integration with the itinerary screen. Of course, most of you will want some more detailed information about the weather, time zones, or calendars. And we can use the rest of the screens in FizzTraveler to get all of the information you seek.
International Time: The International Time screen is designed to allow you to quickly compare information across all of your saved cities. This is a great tool for anyone who travels or even holds meetings which stretch across time zones.
The first sub-screen here is the map. This is a world globe stretched out to look like the flat Earth of old. A shadow arcs its way across the map showing which of your selected cities are enjoying daylight, and which are sound asleep in the middle of the night. Like the Today screen, a list of cities beneath the map shows the current time and weather in each location. Tap the info button to view a little more detailed information about the current conditions in any of the selected cities. This includes detailed weather, sunrise, sunset, and even longitude and latitude coordinates.
My favorite part, not just of this screen, but probably of the whole program, was the Meeting sub-screen. This is absolutely fantastic, and a tool which I could use almost on a daily basis. This screen allows you to compare times in many different time zones. Frankly, I cannot believe I made it this far without a tool like this. This screen allows you to select a meeting time from the timeline, and then scroll through your saved cities to find the coordinating time in each.
I did think it would have been nice, however, if you could hide some of the cities which you did not need for a particular meeting. It also would be really cool if you could add contacts to this screen and use it to schedule a meeting. In other words, if I wanted to meet with the JAMM editors, I could just enter their names to pull their information up from my contacts database, and plot the appropriate time zone for each.
Nonetheless, this is a fantastic idea, and a great inclusion in this program. from here, you can even email your meeting info to any other participants, or add it to your Fizz Traveler itinerary.
The final sub-screen is the globe, which is really pretty cool. You can flick through the globe, spinning it from one selected city to the next. The rest of the information on the screen mirrors that on the map and information screens. This may not have been the most necessary screen, since almost all of the information is available elsewhere, but the globe was certainly cool enough to make it worthwhile.
International Weather: There is not a lot I can say about the International Weather screen which I have not already said. You see, this screen is an almost complete incorporation of Fizz’s popular weather application, FizzWeather. I was amazed to find how much was actually here. In fact aside from the landscape views and a few advanced features, this is FizzWeather. right down to the radar and map views. For more, you might as well just check out my review of FizzWeather.
Itinerary: I know, up until now, we have shown you little more than what you already had on FizzWeather and few fancy clocks. But come on, admit it. You know you really liked that meeting screen which compares times in different time zones. But that is not even the best part.
The Itinerary screen is really the heart of this program,. From here, you can input pretty much any information about your trip. There are six different templates, including:
- Rental Car
I found the layout of this screen to be extremely attractive and easy to use. Underneath each of these menu items is a simple form, which allows you to enter all of the necessary information. you can then tap the trip screen to view everything associated with your upcoming trip. Still, it would have been nice if there was a checkbox for recurring items. If I need to catch the same train every day during my trip, I would like to be able to enter the info once and schedule it, rather than entering a new item every day.
I am sure if I thought about it, I could come up with an entry for the main menu which was not covered by these six items. But the fact that I had to work so hard to come up with something speaks volumes. Still, it would be nice if there was a way to create a custom entry or even just a miscellaneous item.
The strange thing about the Itinerary screen, though, was that it seemed oddly detached from the rest of the program. Regardless of how many items you add in this screen, they do not appear anywhere else in the program. This just struck me as odd. It would make considerably more sense for itinerary items to appear on the Today screen, which generally combines the highlights from all of the other screens. So, it seemed incongruous to me that your next meeting or other itinerary item be included. Hopefully this will make it into an update soon.
Conversions: No travel program would be complete without a currency conversion tool. I mean, everyone needs their money. So this is a critical screen…right? Well, if what you are looking for is currency conversions, you will be sorely disappointed.
Calling this a currency converter would be like calling the iPhone itself a “tip calculator”. This screen can convert virtually every unit of measurement under the sun. Just spin the wheel on top from clothes to power to just about anything (including currency), and then select your units on the bottom. This is really an impressive screen. It is like Fizz Software took a common free app and injected it with steroids when they stuck it in FizzTraveler. Really, well done.
Switching Between Screens: So, now you are all wondering…with all these screens, how hard is the program to navigate? Yeah, I know you all that well. I could just tell that was what you were thinking about. The truth is that navigating your way through this program is deceptively simple. Much easier, even, than the Windows Mobile version. Just tap the compass icon in the upper left corner from just about any screen. This will take you to the navigation screen, which displays the icon for each of the five main screens. Tap one for more information about the screen. Tap again to jump to that screen. Like I said…easy.
Conclusion: Wow was I impressed by this one. I have used travel apps on both the iPod Touch and Windows Mobile before, but this one was just fantastic. The streamlined interface, it gives off an aura of simplicity, which serves to mask the depth of features hidden within. It combines a mere five screens with an incredibly intuitive interface, and advanced features like a full implementation of Fizz Weather, clocks, and itinerary settings, this is a fantastic addition to any iPhone…even if you are not going further than the corner coffee shop
What I Liked:
- Easy and intuitive navigation
- Meeting sub-screen was fantastic
- Itinerary is powerful and simple to use
- Conversions, conversions, and more conversions
What Needs Improvement:
- Itinerary needs to be better integrated with the Today screen
- Miscellaneous item on itinerary
- Recurring items on itinerary