New Yorkers are constantly on their smartphones. Whether we (am I allowed to say we?) are meeting up with friends, using a map to find where we are going, looking for a restaurant close by, or simply checking the time, our smartphones are our lifelines. (I would know. Only three weeks in and my iPhone got stollen. And as much as I love my mini pocket MTA map that I keep in my wallet for emergencies, it can only be so helpful). Fortunately for us, there are tons of different apps designed to make living in the city that much easier – and fun too! I’ve compiled a list of apps that I personally have found to be either a life saver, incredibly convenient, or just plain fun to have!
and mind you – this list doesn’t mean that these are the only nyc related apps I have on my phone. oh no no no. The contrary. However, these are the only ones I actually USE. The other ones just make my subcategories look more complete (I hate just having three or four in there, don’t you? A full 9 is ideal amiright?).
1. Google Maps
Ok, I know this seems obvious – but it is THE most important one. (Hence why you can the faded icon in the screen shot of my iPhone background – and yes, I prefer the pre-set icon placement settings) Google maps also works 10x better then the map that comes on your phone – especially when you are looking up, say, a restaurant or store location. It’s also great because – unlike that other map – you can get directions to exactly where you need to go and how to get there; via either the subway, bus, car or on foot.
Note: When I first moved here, I didn’t realize that having the app open meant that the phone was constantly monitoring where I was. Thus, my battery power was depleting a lot faster than I was used too. Unless you really don’t think you can find your way without it, get your directions and close the app (but once you do this it will not remember your last search if you open it again). Sometimes its good to take a screen shot just in case also, because if you loose service in the subway, the map can sometimes forget your search and you are stuck waiting outside until your phone decides to pick up service again….
Now i’m still trying to figure out if Uber is actually cheaper than taking a taxi in Manhattan (because I definitely think it varies depending on where you are), but there is no denying how convenient this app is. Whether you are stranded somewhere or just don’t feel like hunting down a taxi, Uber will come to your rescue. Not to mention Uber provides a significantly better overall experience than those sweaty, sticky and encaged ones we are so accustomed too. To make the experience even more user friendly, all transactions are made automatically through your smartphone, including tip. Although, my favorite feature Uber offers has to be the “Uberpool”. This allows all of the passengers to split the fare evenly right on their smart phones. Amazing. The day restaurants figure out how to make this work, will be a glorious day indeed (particularly for us younger lads who love dining in large groups and requesting separate checks)
For some reason, GoogleMaps – and that other map – and always simultaneously – decide to be divas and not work. So, if are not satisfied with your GoogleMap app, and or you want to save a little battery power, HopStop is the way to go (i’m also a fan of their website as well). I know my sister used this app and site for years when she was living in the city and recommended it to me when I made the big move. The only problem is you usually need the normal street address. You can type in, say, starting at current location and ending at Bloomingdales, but there is a good chance it’s not the closest one; or it will tell you that you need to take 3 buses and a subway over a 3 hour and 29 minute time frame to get there (and there is no where in Manhattan that would take THAT long to get to – unless maybe you walked)
4. Kickmap nyc Lite
Sometimes you are in a bind. None of your maps are working, you have no reception because you are deep underground in a whole of sweaty misery and you don’t know where you are going. Never fear, Kickmap nyc Lite will save your butt (unless there is a giant MTA map in the station which, surprisingly, there aren’t). If you are able to read a metro map (and it’s ok if you can’t. I took me living underground in Paris to really get the hang of it) then this app might save your life every now and then. It’s very simple. It’s just a picture of the map that you can zoom in on. As long as you know approximately where you need to go, this app will help you figure it out.
Food and Restaurants
Ok, so you don’t have to be a New Yorker to have Yelp on your phone. In fact, wherever you live, you should have this app. I can’t help it, i’m a Yelp-er. I use that site constantly. The first thing I do when I’m interested in a place is to Yelp it (is that even a phrase these days? Do you yelp like you google? or pin?…maybe not yet..but soon…) And it’s not just great for restaurants – I’ve used it for Hair Salons, Bars and Clubs, and Thrift Stores, too. And, yes, you can just use Yelp when you are at home on your computer, but what if you forget the name of the place you walked passed that looked so intriguing? Or what if you stumbled upon a place that looks great, but has terrible food or service? That’s what the Yelp App is for! To help you avoid those annoying experiences that you can’t take back! OR if you DO have a terrible experience, and want to let everyone know about it IMMEDIATELY. (but I’m just kidding. Of course some places deserve that, but as someone about to jump headfirst into the culinary industry, I will not be surprised if Yelp becomes my worst enemy)
Even though it’s finicky at times, Seamless is the way to order takeout or delivery in the city, and almost every Restaurant you can think of in Manhattan has a partnership with them. I don’t use this one that much personally, because I almost always cook myself dinner – or pop in a frozen pizza from Tra-Joe – but if I’m super hungry and it’s dinner time and I’m not home you, you bet i’m whipping this app out ASAP.
This app is fun. How often are you sitting around come dinner time, you’re super hungry, and you have no idea what you are in the mood for. It’s agony. You can’t pick a restaurant or takeout place for the life of you, and you keep opening your kitchen cabinets or fridge for inspiration. Foodspotting lets you seepictures of food people are currently eating in your area. So rather than looking at foodgawker or Pinterest for something you might find at a restaurant somewhere in your area, you actually actually see exactly what you would be able to order. THEN you can you on your SEAMLESS app and order it right there! How convenient?
OpenTable is great for making restaurant reservations. It’s so much easier than calling on the phone, and it’s a quick way to find out if tables are even available for the time or number of people that you need. In fact, most of the apps that have anything to do with restaurants, or the restaurant website themselves, usually are connected to this app/website already. Or, if you don’t already have a restaurant in mind, you can search based on a custom filter – such as the distance from your current location, the price, rating or type of cuisine.
Things to Do, People to See, Places to Drink….
Last night I couldn’t sleep. It was horrible. I went to bed at 12:30 and was restless from 5am on. Randomly in the middle of the night I decided to check out what this app had to offer. I read some articles similar to this after my phone got stollen, so I downloaded it and didn’t give it another thought. This app is so groovy. When you open it, you choose your city. there are 5 columns with different options. You pick your day of the week, time of day, and location. Then it asks you “What do you want” Depending on the time of day, these options vary. If you choose late night, you can choose options like dancing or drinks. Then it asks you who you are with – are you with a boyfriend, mistress, just a friend? Then you can be even more specific. Like if you choose friends – what kind are they? all girls? co-workers? etc. etc. Once you design your search specifically for you, the app gives you a list of different places that meet your criteria. It’s so cool. I love it and I’m 1000% using it tonight.
A much more legitimate (and in my opinion, safer) dating app than those other ones you hear about (eh em, Tinder…). This app only allows you to connect with people that are friends with your friends via social media (ergo, Facebook – so you gotta have one of those) . That way you don’t get creepy strangers on your feed looking at personal pictures of you just because you are “in their area”. You can set the parameter and everything. The only problem is that every day, you only get a certain number of Hinges. So it’s kinda torture, but also gives you something to look forward to at noon everyday. (and, like those other dating apps, you will only know if someone liked you if you liked them back, and vice versa. So there is nothing to be embarrassed about). Of course, I already have a super dreamy boyfriend and don’t need this app (even though there IS a just looking option – which I have admiringly used) but my two of my best friends have already gone on successful Hinge dates – one of which the guy worked in her building (whom she never would have met otherwise) and they already have plans for a second date! I’ve also heard several other Hinge success stories, so it must be working.
Another fun app to help you figure out what to do. This app helps you pick your activity based on the day of the week. First you pick the areas you are interested in, and then you pick your personal interests. Then the app gives you suggestions based on your criteria. This app is different form UrbanDaddy because it includes things like dance classes, improv shows and street festivals. My only problem with this app is that even though you are specific about which parts of town you are interested it, when you click on a particular category, such as “stop and shop on your way home” you still have to filter out your neighborhood. But then again, I never would have heard of the 90’s Vintage store called Mr. Throwback in East Village, so I guess it has it’s pros and cons. I also wish it would filter budget as well, because as much as I would love to go to the Birkin Bar (a store entirely devoted to Birkin Bags) I’d rather not torture myself, thank you very much.