Great Apple apps for holiday travel, plus movies, TV shows and music of the year

Whether you’re looking to book a great trip or want to take better photos on holidays, your Apple iPhone and your iPad have pretty much everything you need for a great “beat the winter blahs” trip.

I’ve been an iPhone and sometimes iPad user for years now, and I sometimes can’t remember what it was like when I didn’t have one. From using Apple Maps in France to using my Aeroplan app to look at using my miles to travel to see my Dad, I find it an indispensable tool of the trade, and something that’s valuable even if I’m back home in Canada or travelling for pleasure.

Air Canada is our biggest airline, and the Air Canada app for iOS or watchOS allows you to book great holidays and manage your trips. You also can check on your flight status (you might have time for another glass of Italian wine at the bar before you fly to Rome), get notified of flight changes and to get an online boarding pass. It’s also something you need if you want to watch movies or TV shows on Air Canada Rouge and avoid paying for one of the Air Canada iPads available for rent.

Apple has amazing apps that you can use to manage your travel and take great trips to places like Hawaii. JIM BYERS PHOTO

I’ve used OpenTable many times to book great restaurants around the world. You can use the OpenTable app on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch to nail down that romantic food spot in New York or Vancouver.

Apple also has a great app for Airbnb, which can save you a ton of money on a great vacation rental property, or for that upcoming business trip. I saw a story this week that said the average hotel room in New York City is around $400 US a night, so the Airbnb app is a great thing to have on your device.

You also can try the TripIt app and organize all travel plans in one place. With all your plans consolidated into a master itinerary, you don’t waste time scouring your inbox for confirmations, perfect for when the Wi-Fi is subpar. 

I mentioned Aeroplan earlier. They have a great app that allows you to track your miles and redeem them for fantastic travel experiences, as well as all kinds of merchandise.

Before you take your trip with your existing iPhone, or with the new iPhone8 or iPhoneX, you should check out the web page Apple has created for free photo tips and techniques. The newer iPhones, as well as the iPhone7 Plus, come with a truly fabulous “portrait mode” that automatically blurs the background for portraits of people, flowers or other things where you want the focus only on the main subject and not on the background. I’ve used it many times and find it a wonderful feature, especially when you can use it on something as handy and small as your iPhone.

I used the portrait mode on my iPhone 7 Plus to blur the background on this photo of some cool cactus in Arizona. JIM BYERS IPHONE PHOTO

On a separate Apple note, the company earlier this week released its top movies, TV shows, music and games for 2017.

In Apple Music, Ed Sheeran was the album of the year with “More Life,” and his “Shape of You” gets top song honours. Taylor Swift’s album “reputation” has already shot up to #3 on the 2017 US top album charts, despite having only been available for a short period of time. Apple Music Up Next 2017 artists Khalid, Daniel Caesar and 6LACK all earned GRAMMY nominations as part of their success this year.

The top movie of the year was “Moana,” followed by “Wonder Woman” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” iTunes is leading the charge toward 4K HDR content, with most of the top charting movies already available in 4K HDR as well as classics and holiday favourites like the Harry Potter series, “Home Alone,” “Office Christmas Party” and “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Drama is the genre dominating the iTunes TV charts this year, with favourites like “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” topping the year. New series driving the charts this year were HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” NBC’s “This Is Us,” PBS’s “Victoria” and USA Network’s “Suits.”

Game of Thrones publicity shot.

The Joe Rogan Experience” remains the most downloaded podcast of the year. Daily news has proven a popular genre, with new podcasts this year like “The Daily” from the New York Times and “The Current” from CBC charting in the most downloaded podcasts of the year. True crime continues to drive listenership with top shows like “Serial,” “Dirty John” and “S-Town.”

This year’s iBooks fiction charts were filled with titles adapted into TV shows including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies,” as well as “feel-good” fiction such as “Before We Were Yours.” “Hillbilly Elegy” topped the nonfiction charts, leading a wave of titles on current events and politics.

The 2017 iPhone App of the Year was Enlight Videoleap, while the 2017 iPad App of the Year was Affinity Photo. The 2017 iPhone Game of the Year was Splitter Critters, while the 2017 iPad Game of the Year was Old Man’s Journey.

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