Baker’s Hours

June 14, 2009

Five Essential iPhone Apps For When You Are Traveling

Filed under: Personal Stuff — Admin @ 1:52 am
Tags: , , , ,

Despite the title “Baker’s Hours” I have taken a few liberties in terms of the topics of my entries. A majority of my entries are food related, and more than a few have had nothing to do with food at all. So, I am going to take another liberty (It’s my blog, and I can write about whatever damn topic I want *Grunts*), and make this my first Tech entry.

If you have been following my blog in recent weeks, you should already know that I was in San Francisco. I knew the city reasonably well, but there was no way that my trip could have been as great a success as it was if it were not for a few essential iPhone apps.

evernoteEvernote quickly became one of my favorite iPhone apps ever since it was recommended to me several months ago. If you haven’t heard of Evernote, it is a productivity service that enables you to sync notes between the web, your computer, and your iPhone or Blackberry. If you add a new note via one of the three Evernote interfaces (the web site, desktop application, or phone app), then the note automatically syncs with the other two. My itinerary, links to web sites, photos, and information on events or meetings were all saved on Evernote, and accessible on my iPhone.

One of my favorite features is the “Clip to Evernote” button that can be added to your Firefox browser. Just highlight the desired text or image, and then click the “Clip to Evernote” button to instantly create a new note. The week before my trip to San Francisco, I did an internet search of all the places I wanted to visit. I then used Google maps to get directions to those places from my hotel, and then created new notes. Then, during my trip, no matter where I was in the city, I was able to access all my notes on my iPhone.

map1 map2 map3

The next app that proved very useful while in San Francisco comes standard on the iPhone, but because of fancier apps like Google Earth, Loopt, and Where; is greatly under utilized. The Maps app is a mobile version of Google Maps. As you can see in the screen caps above, simply enter your target location, set your current location, and then tap the directions button. Google Maps then searches its database, and gives you turn by turn instructions to your destination via car, public transit, or walking. One thing that I found very impressive was that Google Maps would factor in Bus, Trolley, BART, and Municipal train routes to give you the fastest route if you were using public transit. Another thing that I found really useful was that the the app would indicate your location with a pulsing blue dot that would move along the route as you moved. A very handy tool if riding the bus, and you’re not quite sure at which stop to get off. Unfortunately, this feature does not work when riding underground subways. Maps may not be as sexy as other GPS based apps available in the iTunes store,  but it’s reliable and easy to use, and what more do you need in an app.

mapsbuddyMapsBuddy from Spiceloop is a time saving search tool designed to work in conjunction with the Maps app on your iPhone. Instead of manually entering terms into the Maps search engine, MapsBuddy has a list of commonly used map searches like Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Gas Stations, Banks etc. Almost everything you would search for on Maps is available on MapsBuddy. Suppose you are looking for the nearest post office. Instead of manually typing that into the search field, just select the “Post Office” search on MapsBuddy, and it will open the Maps app on your iPhone, and stick a pin in every post office in the area.

brightkiteAside from being a social networking service, Brightkite is one of the best location based apps available. With the ability to pinpoint your location to the nearest cross street (or even the exact building you are in), you are able to easily see what is around you, and interact with locals in the area to find out what is worth seeing.

While in San Francisco, one of my best finds came as a result of Brightkite. I had just left a tweetup at the Wine Bar on Polk Street. I looking for somewhere to get a bite to eat, and someone had just checked in at Escape From New Your Pizza down the block. I decided to go check it out, and had one of the best slices of pizza I had ever had in my life.

yelpYelp is one of the most popular sites on the internet where users are able to rate, and comment upon businesses that they patronage. The Yelp app makes it easy to browse Yelp’s online database of business reviews from your iPhone. Yelp hosts reviews on almost any service you can think of, but the restaurant ratings are by far the best thing about the site.

As hard as it is to believe in the Internet era, a lot of the places that I was looking to visit while in San Francisco didn’t have a website. Thanks to yelp, I was able to easily find contact information, locations, user uploaded images, and most importantly reviews. What’s good, what’s bad, and whether it was worth it for me to check out.

Song stuck in my head at the time of this post: Blues Before Sunrise by Eric Clapton



  1. MapQuest just released a free new iPhone app for your mapping and traveling needs:

    Comment by Casey — June 15, 2009 @ 7:01 am

  2. MapQuest just released a free new iPhone app for your mapping and traveling needs:

    Comment by Casey — June 15, 2009 @ 7:01 am

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