You’ve just arrived in an unfamiliar place and you’ve only got £2.73 in your pocket. You need to get some money out but where do you go? You can’t see any cashpoints nearby…
Or maybe you’re out with friends and you fancy grabbing a bite to eat but don’t know where the nearest decent curry house is…
Fear not! One of the iPhone’s many uses is its ability to help you track down local amenities from pubs, bars and restaurants to cashpoints… and even hospitals using a simple app! Many of the apps I’ve listed also provide reviews from users and some even use ‘augmented reality’ which turns your inbuilt camera into a terrifyingly SciFi know it all.
Here are the Insider’s Edge top FREE iPhone ‘nearby’ apps to help you find your way around…
1. AroundMe – Download Link
– This is one of the original ‘nearby’ apps launched on the iPhone and there’s a certain charm in its to-the-point simplicity. There’s no faffing about with augmented reality here. Choose from ‘Banks/ATM’, ‘Bars’, Coffee Shops’, ‘Hospitals’, ‘Pubs’, ‘Restaurants’, ‘Supermarkets’ and lots more.
It provides you with a clear list of options (closest first) which includes the address and the distance. When you click on any given option it’ll show you the location on a map and where possible provide you with a phone number.
Great for quick and easy searches – like cashpoints, carparks and internet cafes
2. Yelp – Download Link
– Yelp is a bit of a powerhouse of an app and combines local services with user reviews where possible. Like AroundMe you can choose from a variety of categories and you can also use the inbuilt search feature if you know the name of the place you want to find. The real benefit with Yelp is the ability to read star ratings and reviews on venues and services where users have left comments.
There is also an augmented reality feature where you can hold your iPhone up and see services overlaid on your screen via the camera function. While I’m sure this feature will prove popular in the near future at the moment it still feels a bit gimmicky.
Great for bars, pubs and restaurants – excellent coverage and lots of reviews
3. Layar – Download Link
It’s definitely not perfect but it’s extremely clever. Layar is augmented reality on amphetamines. If you’re looking for the nearest cashpoint this one probably isn’t for you – as I said you’re better off using AroundMe for the simple stuff and Yelp for reviews. This is more for when you’re wondering around and might want to get a quirky look at events around you or find out about various points of interest.
For example I found a graffiti ‘Layar’ which showed you where to find Banksy’s then there was a SpotCrime ‘Layar’ which revealed specific crimes which happened recently nearby. There are hundreds, if not thousands of these ‘Layars’ to choose from. The only problem is that because some of them are quickly cobbled together by businesses or individuals and then ignored, they can be a bit lightweight, but well worth a look.
Great for a quirky look at what’s happening nearby
4. Qype – Insider’s Edge favourite – Download Link
I really rate Qype – it’s a bit like a hybrid between AroundMe and Yelp. It has the simplicity of the former and the comprehensive coverage and review functionality of the latter. I’m not sure if it’s because I live in London but I found more reviews listed on Qype than on a lot of the other apps (apparently a review is posted every 30 seconds). They also seem to be pretty well vetted and relatively spam-free which I like.
There’s no augmented reality here but you’re given maps, directions and contact details which I found more than sufficed.
Great for finding a place to eat or drink. The fact it can point you towards all the usual amenities is a real bonus.
5. Localscope – Download Link
I don’t have a huge amount to say about this one other than it’s fast and gives competent results. It’s a bit like AroundMe in that it lists amenities and then offers a list of what’s nearby and the contact details. Worth a look especially as, like all of these, it’s free. There’s also a ‘Discover’ button which is a nice touch – although I suspect it’s a feature more geared to the US market as it didn’t feature much when I tested it in Central London.
Easy to use and the “discover” function could be a nice touch when it’s potential is fully realised.
6. My Local – Download Link
Another fast and user-friendly app. This one is to my eyes almost a carbon copy of AroundMe but it works well and as I said it loads fast and as such warranted an inclusion in this list. I did find the small advert bar a little irritating but this is a minor gripe.
Fast and intuitive – shame about the ads.
7. Urban Spoon – Download Link
I had to include this one even though it only really focuses on one area… FOOD. While I found the interface to be a little clunky you can drill down by cuisine, price, what’s open and more. This gives you a lot more choice and flexibility. Where applicable you can click through to critic reviews and see user reviews rated (out of 100%).
Great for foodies
8. Trip Advisor – Download Link
I’m sure you’ll have come across TripAdvisor in your online travels. Their iPhone app is well worth a look as well as it gives you access to their famous user reviews while you’re on the move. You can look at local Hotels, Restaurants and ‘Things to Do’ (which I thought was a great little feature). Obviously the big draw with TripAdvisor is their enormous database of users and reviewers. It’s well worth downloading this app. When you read reviews do bear in mind that they’ve been pulled on the quality of their reviews (many are un-vetted or written by stooges).
Great for travellers, foodies and review lovers
I hope you enjoyed this App attack!
If you found this helpful, have used any of these apps or have used ones I haven’t covered here that you think would merit a mention please leave a comment below.