Hipmunk, the travel-search site with a cuddly aeronaut mascot, wants to mitigate the inevitable pain of travel planning. They've long had a simplified flight search engine available on the web, with iOS and Android apps appearing last year. Now they've expanded into hotel search with a pair of updated apps: both map nearby accommodations (with the option to choose other cities) as a collection of color-coded circles. Green circles mark cheaper hotels; blue indicates an average price; and red – you've probably cracked the pattern – means a higher-priced venue. Touching any circle gives you more details, including TripAdvisor reviews.
Heatmap overlays also give you a sense of the neighborhood: is it a hotbed of restaurants? How's the nightlife? Are there sightseeing opportunities? Obviously the app won't replace diligent, painstaking research, but offers at-a-glance info. If that appeals to you weary travelers, Hipmunk is available in the iTunes Store and Android Market.