What's around you?
With GPS and Internet connectivity being available on most handsets, locating the nearest cafe, parking lot or just soaking in historical information about a monument you are passing by is only an app away
Stuck in a new part of town and do not know which places to visit? Or planning a shopping spree and not really sure where you will get the best deals? Or just plain bored and wanting to know whether there’s something interesting happening around or some place you could visit to while away the hours? As with almost everything these days, there are apps for that. Thanks to the fact that most smartphones come equipped with GPS that can pinpoint your location and Internet connectivity that can access the Web and pull relevant information about the places in your vicinity, there are a host of apps designed to tell you about just what’s hot and happening — and even just plain old boring — in and around you. So, the next time you feel lost in town or just want to know what’s up around you, we suggest trying the following apps, which will do just that. Free of cost.
Nokia City Lens
Yes, this is the app SRK uses in the television commercial to find a place to eat. Launching the app opens the camera on the phone, showing you what’s in your vicinity with the locations of different places marked with reference to them.
You can find out about hotel food joints, shopping areas, famous landmarks and a whole lot more by just turning on the app and swinging your phone around — the places will change depending on where you point your phone. You can check user reviews of different places, and what’s more, the app will even tell you how to get to a particular place if you decide to head there — even Mount Everest!
Get it at: http://www.nokia.com/in-en/citylens/
Works with: Nokia Lumia devices
For sheer simplicity and ease of use, this app takes the cake. Launching it simply takes you to a list of heads ranging from ATMs to petrol stations to parking lots to restaurants.
Just pick the one that you are seeking around you and you get another list of the same, with information on how far they are from your current location, along with contact information if relevant and available. It is definitely not as spectacular as some of the other apps mentioned here, but it works, and fast, even over a relatively slow GPRS/EDGE connection. Best of all, it seems to work across a number of areas, and is not just a big
Get it at: http://www.aroundmeapp.com/
Works with: Android, iOS, and Symbian devices
This is pretty much the best app to have for shopaholics who are making up their minds about where to drop in next. It has a single, simple purpose — it tells you about the best deals and discounts available in your vicinity. All you have to do is start it, pick a category of product and you will start getting information not only about which shop or dealer near you is offering a special rate but also the details of the products on which these offers are available.
You can also pick up points that will add up to special discounts while shopping, and in a few cases, by just walking into some stores. And yes, it really works, although it does restrict you to the bigger brands and shops at the moment, as they are the ones who have tied up with the app developers.
Get it at: http://delightcircle.com/
Works with: Android, iOS, BlackBerry
If you just want to know what people around you are doing, then perhaps no app comes close to beating Layar. Turn it on and you will see information like Instagram photographs of places in your vicinity and what people near you are tweeting (even if you are not following them).
You can also check out Wikipedia articles about different places and tourist guides to points of interest around you. Each bit of information is presented in the form of a layer over the camera app and turning your device around will show up new places and points of interest. Our only problem with the app is that it tends to get a tad overwhelming with literally dozens of layers to explore. But if you have time — and bandwidth — to kill and want to find out what’s up around you, this is the first app we would recommend.
Get it at: http://www.layar.com/
Works with: Android, iOS
“Real World Bookmarking” is how Grafetee describes itself, and if you are seeking to find out what’s happening around you based on the recommendations of social networks, this is just the app for you. You can choose the topics you want to be informed of — they could be Foursquare tips, photos from Instagram or Flickr, local reviews, or if you seek something a tad more conventional, articles from Wikipedia, and see them all on a map.
And this being very much a social network in its own right, you can also create your own topics and invite your friends to view them. And of course, if you think that there’s something worth writing about your current location, you can go right ahead and add it, and share it on Facebook as well. We wish it delivered more on India, but for the socially inclined, this is a great place discovery app.
Get it at: http://www.grafetee.com/
Works with: Android, iOS devices
It has not been officially rolled out in India yet, but Google’s latest app is available for some users and packs quite a punch for those wanting to find out what’s in their vicinity. It pulls information from well-known sources (Zagat, Forkful, Racked, Charlie, etc) and serves up articles on places of interest, be they places to eat or architectural marvels and actually pushes the information on to your device.
So suppose you are driving by a particularly good restaurant, the app will pop up and tell you just that — well, it can even do so by voice, if you tweak the settings. You get directions, detailed articles and often some very good photographs about the place or event in question as well. We have seen it work to a limited extent in Bangalore and Delhi and are just waiting for it to come officially to India.
Get it at: Google Play
Works with: Android