AS LITTLE as 10 years ago there was no such thing, then Apple released the first smartphone and others soon followed.

Then the apps, offering all sorts of information and entertainment – games, maps and weather – via the touch of a finger, burst onto the scene. Now there are more than 2.5 million apps available through Apple’s iTunes store, while Android users have more than three million to choose from. Among them is a plethora of apps suitable and useful for the four-wheel drive tourer and camper and, while some you need to pay for, many are free.

Most of us have probably used at least one of the mapping apps available – we tend to run the HemaExplorer app on our iPad when travelling, and we found it to be up-to-date and informative for our Australian adventures.

Pocket Earth Pro is a fabulous mapping app, but is sadly only available for Apple users. It works completely offline and has great detail down to street level (even in out-of-the-way places like Birdsville and Halls Creek).

With around-the-world coverage and incredible detail, we use it extensively when travelling here or abroad.

Then there are camping apps. Sorting through the countless apps available, we keep coming back to WikiCamps Australia, which offers information on thousands of campsites across the continent. Once downloaded it works completely offline and is designed for iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

WikiCamps also sponsor the Fuel Map Australia and Gas Finder (for gas bottle refills and swaps) apps.

Want to keep up-to-date with bushfire news this summer? Then get one of the state-based fire service apps. Most states have their own separate bushfire app, but bushfire info for Victoria is found in the VicEmergency app, which covers everything from road accidents to bushfire alerts (so it can be a little disjointed). Still, there is a National Bushfires App with the latest info from all the state fire authorities.

Do you know what to do in a medical emergency? Well, while you should have done a first-aid course recently, the First Aid app by the St John Ambulance will provide the latest first-aid treatment for common and critical conditions. There’s even a first-aid app for pets.

Think of a subject and there will be an app for it. We've found more than 100 apps most travellers will find useful, if not downright necessary. See them at: TravelApps.htm#mapping