Hipmunk, the clever tool for searching for flights and hotel rooms, just got a little more clever. It’s adding a new feature to its iPhone, iPad and Android apps that sucks in your calendar appointments and visualizes them, so you can avoid flights that conflict with your appointments and find hotels that are convenient to them.
Similar to existing Google Calendar integration in the service’s Web-based version, the new feature works with the calendar — or calendars — stored on your device, and requires no configuration other than turning it on. (You can also choose which calendars do and don’t show up in Hipmunk, which is useful if you care a lot about work appointments and not so much about personal ones.)
In Hipmunk’s travel search — see the above screen shot — your appointments now show up as vertical bars, letting you see which flights fall before, during and after each schedule item. And the hotel search attempts to identify the location of meetings so it can plot it on the map and find lodging options that are nearby. (The more precisely you enter address info, the better this will work, but it figured out “Moscone Center” and showed me hotels near San Francisco’s convention center.)
Hipmunk gave me a sneak peek of the revised apps; the new stuff is nicely done and doesn’t clutter up the visual presentation any more than necessary. Privacy shouldn’t be an issue, since the apps aren’t uploading anything to the cloud — they’re just peeking at the calendar data that’s already stored on your device.
As before, Hipmunk is a joy to use, and the only downside is that it doesn’t offer the array of buying options that its larger rival Kayak does. (It lets you purchase from airlines and from Orbitz, but not from other big travel merchants such as Expedia, Travelocity and CheapTickets.) But even if you end up closing your travel deal elsewhere, Hipmunk is a great place to start your research.
MORE: Even without the new feature, we named Hipmunk as one of the fifty best iPhone apps.