TripIt for iPhone aims to help jet-setters, road-warriors, and occasional vacationers alike travel better—and smarter. The app requires that you set up a free account at the TripIt Website, which you can do from within the app or at your computer.
Once you have a TripIt account, you simply forward copies of your travel itineraries to the service’s address—Plans@tripit.com. You can configure TripIt’s Website to check your inbox automatically to skip even this simple step. Either way, the service parses out all the relevant details from your e-mail, recording all the important information you’ll need as you travel.
This isn’t a review of the TripIt.com Web service, but trust me that it’s impressive in its own right. The free iPhone app takes TripIt from good to very good—though with a few caveats that keep the app from being truly great.
First, the good stuff: I forwarded TripIt the confirmations for an upcoming flight to Florida, and the cruise we’ll be taking once we get there. Within minutes, the Website—and thus the iPhone app—had successfully imported all the details of our travel.
Normally, were you to quiz me on any details of an upcoming trip, my answers would be a combination of guesses and frantic Gmail searching. TripIt makes me look smart. Tapping on my departure flight provides all the detail I could want—the departure time, the arrival time, the gate and terminal for each side of the trip, a map of the destination airport, my confirmation number, my frequent flier number, the airline’s contact information, the flight length and distance, the aircraft type, and even a link for seating advice (which requires an Internet connection, since it’s powered by SeatExpert.com, and not my favored SeatGuru.com). If it’s close enough to flight time, you can tap buttons to check in for your flight or view its current status.
TripIt also successfully imported (and presented) all the details of my cruise, too—including each port of call and what time we arrive there, and even the cabin number.
You can tap on any location see it on a map. And if your friends and loved ones use TripIt, they can share their itineraries with you, and you’ll be able to view the details of those in the app’s Network tab. The app also sports a Share button, which lets you e-mail any contacts the details of your trip.
Surprisingly, though, TripIt (the app) doesn’t provide all the detail that TripIt (the Website) does. In fact, when you share a trip via e-mail from within the app, the automated message includes the historic high and low temperatures for each locale on your itinerary; the app disappointingly provides no way to see that data. It’s easy enough to get at the weather data, just by e-mailing yourself the details from the app, but it certainly seems like an oversight.
Also missing is any means of exporting the data from the TripIt app to the iPhone’s built-in calendar. I’d love to have the time-sensitive information there, too, but I’m forced to enter it all manually. Since the TripIt app can’t alert me automatically a couple hours before the flight like the calendar can, that’s another letdown.
My final complaint is with the app’s ads. I don’t begrudge a free app’s right to show advertisements, but TripIt provides no alternative. If I could purchase the app to disable the ads—which feature animations between each and take up a significant amount of screen real estate—I would do so. (Update: And indeed, there is a way to do that, though not through the App Store. TripIt Pro, a premium subscription service that the TripIt Website offers for $49 per year, adds features like notifications about flight delays, reward mileage tracking, and, indeed, the ability to use the TripIt app ad-free.)
Despite its few flaws, though, TripIt’s ability to turn trip confirmation e-mails into a format that’s easy and quick to browse is great, and the app is a treat to use.
[Lex Friedman is a frequent contributor to Macworld.]
This review was updated to note the TripIt Pro service that removes ads from the iPhone app. This change did not affect our rating for TripIt.