Spending a day in your favorite city isn’t just about the destinations; it’s about the journey. Make the most of time spent between stops with these smartphone apps for urban navigation.
If you’re leaving your car behind, a must-have for any day of wandering is WayPoint. Free for Android, WayPoint allows users to easily navigate back to a plotted point (like a hotel or a parking garage) using the app’s built-in compass or your preferred maps program. iPhone users can find similar functionality with GPS Tracks ($0.99 in the iTunes App Store). Car Locator ($3.99 in the Google Play Store) pairs tracking capabilities with additional, car-specific features like parking meter timers. (See Navigation.com’s guide to parking apps for further recommendations).
Once you reach an area of your city you’d like to explore, use one of Triposo’s free travel guides for iOS and Android to see what’s near you—and how best to get there. Just choose the shopping, dining, nightlife, entertainment, or lodging destination you’re most attracted to, and your smartphone’s GPS will help your feet do the rest.
Want to send your taste buds on a trip of their own? Urbanspoon (free for Android, iOS and Windows Phone) uses your GPS location to find nearby restaurants virtually anywhere, along with useful information like price range and average user rating. Visit restaurant websites, view menus, and get directions all from your smartphone.
A bike can be a great way to get around the city and see a few sights while you’re at it. To get the most out of your ride, use a free cycling app like MapMyRide (iOS, Android, Windows Phone). As with other MapMyFitness apps for walking, running, and hiking, MapMyRide allows users to view popular routes, plot new ones, and track time logged and distance traveled using their smartphone’s GPS.
If you need a place to stash your wheels, Bike Rack Locator (free for iPhone and iPad) allows users to quickly and easily find nearby bike racks in Chicago, New York, and London with additional locations pending. This way of travel lets you definitely make the most of your money while traveling Europe on a budget. All bike racks are identified by nearest street address, and streetview photos are also available for visual context.
Taking Public Transportation or Hailing a Cab
Finding the right app for your city’s public transportation system can be tricky. Rather than downloading the local option in every city you visit, try one-stop-navigation-shop Moovit. Free for Android and iOS devices, Moovit provides nearby bus, train, and subway arrival times in most major American cities using your phone’s GPS and the power of crowdsourcing. Find additional public transit apps and sites here.
If taxis are more your speed, give your cab-hailing arm a rest with one of several smartphone apps that allow you to hail a cab with the push of a button. See Navigation.com’s e-hail and rideshare app guide for a full rundown of available services. As tuition for a college education in America is sometimes extraordinary high, rideshares and other cost-reducing measures may come in pretty handy.
On a Boat
Take in your favorite city’s magnificent skyline from beyond the shore with smartphone navigation apps for boaters. iNavX ($49.99 in the iTunes app store) is a keen investment for serious skippers, providing detailed chart info for the West Coast, Gulf Coast, Mediterranean Sea, East Coast, Great Lakes, Sweden’s Lakes, and beyond. When you’re on a road trip through Europe, make sure you’ve also got the latest version of your Navteq navigation at hand.
For pleasure cruisers, inexpensive boating apps can help take out some of the guesswork. Like its landlocked cousin, WayPoint, GPS Waypoints Navigator ($4.99 in the Google Play Store) helps boaters pin GPS return points and track distance in nautical miles while adding advanced features such as offline map support. For more inexpensive boating apps, check out Distance Map ($2.99 in the iTunes App Store), Boat Beacon ($9.99 in the Google Play Store and iTunes Store), and Marine Navigator ($8.48 in the Google Play Store).