14 apps guaranteed to make your summer vacation easier -- and a lot more fun

A starship takes on the QE 2 using the Action Movie FX app.

Before you hop a plane, train or load up the car this summer, consider adding apps that can make your vacation a little easier or at least more fun.


Name: Replay Video Editor

Works with: iOS


What it does: Assembles travel videos into Hollywood-style movies with your choice of visual style and soundtrack (for instance, there’s an old-time movie look with a ragtime soundtrack). You choose a theme and select stills and video clips from your iPhone or iPad and Replay does the rest. Other tools let you fine-tune your flick if you want to spend more time editing. Free with a limited number of features or $9.99 for all features.

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Name: Action Movie FX

Works with: iOS


What it does: Superimposes a spaceship, a spider attack or other mayhem effects on a short video. Clips can be saved to your camera roll to create a longer action movie. Free; you can buy even more effects once you have the app.

Photo tools

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Name: FotoSketcher

Works with: iOS

What it does: Passes you off as a sketch artist in much the same way the Waterlogue app lets you pretend you’re a watercolor artist. Grab a shot from your photo library, choose a medium and music, and FotoSketcher makes a mini-movie of you “sketching” in black and white, color, oil, etc. $1.99, plus you can buy more effects once you have the app..

Name: Sketch Guru

Works with: Android


What it does: Transforms you into an artist (or a pseudo-artist) with sketch methods that include black and white, color pencil and watercolor. Free.

Name: Phramed

Works with: iOS

What it does: “Frames” a single picture or helps you craft a collage with up to five images. Free.

Name: Google Photos

Works with: iOS, Android

What it does: Gives you cool photo tools including Assistant, Auto Backup and editing tools that make Apple’s photo editor obsolete. It includes tone adjustments similar to Instagram, and its autofix automatically tweaks light or color so well that you may not need to do anything other than crop your shot. Assistant is the app’s best feature. Assistant works overtime creating collages and animated GIF files from your photos. Like a studio boss, you decide whether to save a project. Assistant also generates photo stories after a trip or special event by grabbing your best photos and videos and crafting them into a tale. All you do is add a narrative. You can also hit a "+" to create a new album, movie, story, animation or collage. The app’s only shortcoming is a less elegant display than Mylio’s (see next). Free.

Name: Mylio


Work with: iOS, Android version in development

What it does: Organizes and backs up your photos and videos across multiple devices. It has photo editing tools similar to those in Lightroom but lacks a video editor. Free for three devices and 1,000 photos. Paid plans offer additional storage and tools and start at $4.17 a month.

Name: Snapseed

Works with: Android, iOS

What it does: Provides easy-to-use editing tools and filters to make average shots awesome. You can adjust brightness, contrast etc., create a vignette or transform the perspective from vertical to horizontal. In-app filters include grainy film, vintage and more. Free.

Travel apps

Name: Gas Guru

Works with: iOS, Apple watch, Android

What it does: Finds cheap gas nearby. Free.

Name: Google App

Works with: iOS, Android, Windows phone

What it does: The ever-evolving app isn’t just for travel but has lots of features that can help you on the road. Offers voice-activated searches and provides alerts and notifications from other apps such as Kayak and AirBnB. Ask: “How do I say ‘Where’s the bathroom?’ in Japanese?” and Google gives you a text box and speaks the Japanese phrase. Free.

Name: Google Maps

Works with: iOS, Android

What it does: Now responds to verbal commands and lets you generate offline maps to find your way without using cellular data. Free.


Name: Beats Music

Works with: iOS, Android and Windows phone

What it does: Creates custom playlists for streaming music based on your tastes or mood. Free trial, then $9.99 a month or $99 a year.

Name: StubHub Music

Works with: iOS

What it does: Uses your phone’s GPS to provide the lowdown on concerts. It scans your music library to create a list of your favorite artists and their coming engagements. Free.

End of the road

Name: Mobile Passport

Works with: iOS, Android

What it does: Speeds you through U.S. Customs and Border Patrol by letting you take your picture and answer re-entry questions in-app. Kiosks that work with Mobile Passport are now open at international airports in Atlanta (ATL), Miami (MIA), Seattle (SEA) and Chicago (ORD), with more to come. Free.

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