Best App(s) to explore New York with. Part 1. / by Natashia Tjandra

This week I’ll be comparing 4 apps, to determine which is or are the best for exploring New York.

I will also compare reviews that I have done weeks ago of Urban Daddy: The Next Move App (which I will expand) and Dumbo app, with Wallpaper New York, Goings On: The New Yorker, and Not for Tourist. Next week, watch out for comparison with Scvgr and Gogobot.

Criteria:

1. Easy to use

2. Engaging and makes me want to use it over and over again

3. Accurate information

4. Beautiful

5. Bonus – using iOS touch capabilities

 

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This week’s contenders are:

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1. WALLPAPER* CITY GUIDE: NEW YORK

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Unique Feature The locations included in the app are curated with a keen eye for design, as one would expect from Wallpaper*.

Features Fast-track guides • Maps • High quality images • Bookmarks • Neighborhood • Constant updates   

Pros

  • Includes our travel essentials, with their tightly edited selection of hotels, landmarks, architecture, shopping and urban life – all color coded for easy referencing.

  • Short intro easy to read paragraphs.

  • Fast-track curated guides.

  • High-quality images to browse and drool over.

  • Featured venues - an insider check list of New York hottest and design forward spots

  • Bookmarks - to create your own itinerary and share with friends

  • Wallpaper lists things and neighborhoods you need to know and why.

  • You can navigate, search and view several places of interests in the map, with color coded pins. 

Cons

  • Lacking in the hierarchical menu structure where the user dives in and backs out. The app is designed to be experienced like a book or a magazine, where it’s easy for us to flip or ear-mark the pages; which needs getting used to.

Smile factor

Beautiful images of the places, which are really persuasive – makes me want to visit them all. Tightly curated places and guides/tours.

The Verdict

I am a sucker for beautifully designed guides with nicely kerned, easy to read short paragraphs, high design curated places and photographs – I’m an art director/design geek. For that reason, I am keeping Wallpaper city guides.

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2. THE NEXT MOVE BY URBANDADDY

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Unique Feature Jackpot wheel that gives you the feeling of anticipation and adventure. An app with excellent writing – entertaining human voice and attitude. Process of keying in information or setting up the filters is a fun process, it’s not tedious even though there are at least 5 things you need to fill in for the jackpot wheel to work.

Features Automatic location recognition • An app-wide search function • Nightlife and restaurant content • Men’s shopping and grooming selection from UrbanDaddy’s editors • A ‘favorites’ list • ‘Randomize’ option where you roll the jackpot wheel for a random selection • Share via Facebook or Twitter.

Pros

  • Interface is very fun, make filling information a joy. When you first launch the app, you will be asked to set up the filters for the search. Fear not, the process of filling in information or setting up the filters is a fun process, it’s not tedious even though there are at least 5 things you need to fill in for the jackpot wheel to work. The first two are already filled in, with the time and day, and possible location where you are at, all you need to choose is “what do you want?” and “who are you with?” You can choose from a list of things. So an example when the filter is set up is : “It’s Tuesday, around 12AM, somewhere in New York, I want drinks, with a date, somewhere swanky.” The next step is to press submit and the jackpot wheel will start turning.

  • You can choose how you want the results to be displayed, either by list or map.

  • Each place has a super short description, with a picture, phone number and address. You can share via Facebook or Twitter.

  • There’s also another option for the user to access information. You can tap an arrow, located at the bottom, a menu box will pop up from the bottom. It will then give you 4 categories to choose from: Food & Drinks, Shopping, Shortlists, Grooming.

  • After choosing, you will be presented with another list of categories, for eg. under Food & drink, there are body heat, nearest heater, warm brandy, bars to hole up in, one last drink, etc.

  • Tailored to locality, location based

  • Free

Cons

  • Ads, it’s a free app

Smile factor

Entertaining human voice and attitude.

The Verdict

I have been using The Next Move for 2 years now, ever since I arrived in New York. It never disappoints, I’m thoroughly entertained each time I use it. Sometimes I’ll use the mistress filter, just to spice things up.  

 

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3. GOINGS ON: THE NEW YORKER

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Unique Feature The New Yorker is packed full with great suggestions for things to do, courtesy of the staff at the magazine. You can choose ‘Critics’ Pick’ to see recommendations, or search by the date or location. You can buy tickets from within the app, and listen to Audio tours.

Features Categories • Audio Tour • Filters for search function • Get tickets • Favorites • Share via Facebook, email, twitter and Foursquare

Pros

  • The launch screen has the personality of The New Yorker magazine – the sketched graphics make it a pleasure to look at, and the information regarding each event or place is informative and concise.

  • Events can be filtered by date and location; and interactive maps show event and restaurant locations.

  • You can call venues from within the app, buy tickets and look on a map to see where the venue is.

  • You can also tap to see more information about the place, such as the address and what else is going on there.

  • Throw in audio tours, you can walk with Calvin Trillin to his favorite restaurants in and around Chinatown, accompany Peter Schjeldahl through the Frick Collection, take a vintage shopping trip with Patricia Marx, and tour the High Line with Paul Goldberger.

  • Content are written by reputable critics and writers. The restaurant reviews are by the paper’s Table for Two columnists, so the recommendations come from those who are well informed about the city.
  • details of future events and the writers pointing you towards their personal favourite places

Cons

  • Being a free product, it does contain ads

Smile factor

Reputable insider information, with audio tours.

The Verdict

It’s certainly a handy app for New Yorkers and visitors to have around, and while simple, it’s a great guide that could help you find exciting things to do.

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4. NOT FOR TOURIST NEW YORK (NFT)

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Unique Feature NFT has a coolness factor often missing in most run-of-the mill travel guides. The information is honest, anecdotal and for the most part, on par with our own opinions.

Features Automatic location recognition • 3 different options of Categories: Neighborhood, categories, and Guides & Favorites • Time of the day • Other Cities which you can purchase

Pros

  • When you open the app, you are presented the top picks of your location, with four different tabs: coffee, nightlife, hotels and what’s close.

  • When you tap on the top left icon, you will be given a choice of categories or neighborhoods to choose from. You can also select a neighborhood, and the list will update with the recommended places in that neighborhood. The categories include Top Picks, Restaurants, Nightlife, Shopping, Landmarks, Libraries, Farmers Markets and Museums. You can also Search for a place in this section.

  • It’s really useful to have a short, one liner description for the places listed. You can decide quickly if you’d like to visit the place or not.

  • The ability to easily find whatever I might be looking for, get the directions, contact information, including websites if available, as well as have it pinpointed on a map without ever looking like I was lost in the first place is pretty useful.

  • Instead of the name of the app, you get to see the iconic NFT guidebook icon at the top bar. You can tap it, to go back to the app home screen.

  • If you tap the top right button, you will be given a list of Guides & Favorites which is broken down into categories like Art Galleries, Billiards, Bookstores, Bowling, Hotels, Landmarks, Nightlife and etc. The downfall here is however, the extra long text that I have to read, to get the recommendations.

  • Information is accessible offline (or in airplane mode)

  • All listings feature an address, telephone number, price points and an option to bookmark or link to Google maps for directions.

Cons

  • You have to buy each cities at $1.99 each

  • Buttons are tiny, specially the map or slideshow view.

  • The app doesn’t use the standard iOS buttons or iOS standard display.

  • The tabs – coffee, nightlife, hotels and what’s close – are a little bit confusing. I thought it was a list of filters for the list of places shown, specially since the app isn’t using the standard iOS buttons or iOS standard display.

  • Once you are in map view screen, there isn’t a back button or a back option. To get back to the descriptions of the place, you have to tap the drop pin and tap on the pop up box, then you’ll get back to the description screen. A little bit of extra steps there.

  • Not updated frequently, and descriptions are inconsistent. They are not available for all listings, and the ones that are vary from great information to poorly written, out of date, inaccurate portrayals.

  • Long text to read on recommendations under the Guides & favorites screen.

  • Some listings are not linked to reviews.

  • You cannot link to the GPS function and do a search “close by” without an Internet connection.

Smile factor

Honest, local insider information.

The Verdict

I don’t really care for it I’m afraid as I hate reading long texts on my phone. It’s as good as reading yelp reviews, sans the conflicting and subjective opinions. Furthermore, the app isn’t as intuitive as Urban Daddy or Wallpaper, takes some getting used to.

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 Which app(s) am I keeping?

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Wallpaper* and The Next Move by UrbanDaddy, the former because of the high design and beautiful pictures, which makes me want to be in the places listed, and the latter because of its entertainment, engagement and anticipation values.

Next week, I’ll be comparing these two with Scvgr and Gogobot.