High-tech ways to unlock cities' mysteries
High-tech ways to unlock cities' mysteries, Unlock the hidden mysteries of your city, New phone apps let you discover cool, hidden-gem spots and much more. Have you ever stood on a street corner—whether it's in New York, London, Beijing, or even your own hometown--and wished you could discover a really cool new place that might be just around the corner? Ever see an old statue or monument on the commute home and wonder who cared enough to build it? These smart phone apps will help you disover cool and interesting parts of the city you're in, things even the locals don't know about.
Well, to quote the ubiquitous ad slogan-- "There's an app for that." Actually, this week we're checking out three apps that help you unlock the hidden mysteries in your hometown or any other city you might visit.
First up is Trover (free). Part social network, part review AND part photography, Trover helps you find a treasure "trove" of hidden gems in a city. The idea is simple: users snap quick pics of things they've found and want to share with their friends. A great local slice of pizza. The new art gallery in their neighborhood. An undiscovered watering hole. Using your current location, Trover shows you geo-tagged photos close to where you are. Like an image? Click to find out more info. You can thank the poster or even share the info on Facebook, Twitter, etc., if you think it's worthy. Follow those users whose pics (and picks) you especially like.
As a user, I felt like Trover combined the best aspects of other social networking sites. The geo-tagging and recommendations work like Yelp. The photo collections are reminiscent of Flickr. And the brief social component felt like Twitter. This is an app I could easily spend hours wasting time with — and I mean that as high praise.
While Trover is useful all over the country, Art by Subway ($1.99) is limited to New York City and the surrounding areas served by the MTA. Matt Vincent combined his love of developing software and finding local art to create this entry for the MTA's "App Quest" competition. While Matt didn't win, he did get an honorable mention for creating a guide to what might be the world's largest underground museum — the New York City Subway. Though fairly limited in scope, this app truly serves its stated purpose. Matt spent hours combing New York's subway stations, painstakingly photographing and cataloging almost every available piece of public art on display. The result is a fascinating guide that reveals the beauty surrounding subway RIDERS. And since Art by Subway doesn't require WiFi, you don't need any of those pesky cell signals to use the app below ground.
A former #1 travel app on iTunes, Roadside America ($2.99 to sign up, additional $5.99 to unlock each region) uses your phone's location to point out all those roadside attractions you always wanted to see — and those you might not have known about. But it's not just a catalog of wacky places to stop for tourist photos with your family en route to Wally World. The app also features unique tools like a "Sunset Alert" to notify you when the sun's going down so you're sure not to miss an incredible sunset. Or the "Tourist Interruptus," which allows you to schedule dummy phone calls to help you gracefully excuse yourself from any museum tour that's taking too long. This app is a fun one (and would also make a great father's day gift!), but beware OF the hidden cost. Buy the app and get one "region" worth of listings for free — say, the Northeast, or the Southwest. However, other regions cost extra.