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Is there an app for that?
October 16, 2009 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good New York City iPhone app for tourists.

I'm heading to New York this weekend and I'd like to use my iPhone to get around, but there's a couple of caveats. I'm from Toronto, and even with my US Data Roaming add-on, I'll be paying a buck for every Mb. Consequently, I'd like to keep Google Maps usage as low as possible. Is there an app that has a nice zoomable map of Manhattan and a GPS location function? Ideally, I could get subway maps too, but I'm not adverse to getting a separate app for that.

If others have ways of caching Google Maps, that would be great too. I've not jailbroken the phone, and don't really intend too, but if there's something earth shatteringly good, I'd be willing to consider it.
posted by reformedjerk to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm a big fan of the NYC Kick Map for the subway. It's much easier to read than the standard subway maps. They show you exactly which trains stop at each station. Also, it's not only an online thing, so you can read the map underground. The free version does not have a GPS feature, but the 1.99 version does.
posted by mrsshotglass at 9:31 AM on October 16, 2009


Oh, also, you could make PDFs of google maps then email them to yourself. Open the pdfs on your phone, and then they should be viewable offline later. (I just tested this with the file in my sent gmail.) Alternatively, you could put jpgs of google maps in your camera roll.

And thanks for asking this question. I'm totally going to put map images on my phone for an upcoming trip to Europe.
posted by mrsshotglass at 9:36 AM on October 16, 2009


If you have access to wifi during your trip, you might want to consider OffMaps. It uses a different database from Google Maps, which allows for caching of data. Unfortunately, it doesn't have GPS plotting, but it does allow you to bookmark locations where you'll be, and then to search within the maps you have.

I'm from Canada, and recently used it during a trip to Europe. I would download maps of the cities we were visiting while under the kind umbrella of free hotel wi-fi, then use them out in about while my phone was in airplane mode.

There are probably better options available (actual GPS programs, etc), but this cost me $3 and was wholly suitable to my needs.
posted by dnesan at 9:51 AM on October 16, 2009


Depending on where and what you want to do - you might get by just fine by writing down (in your iphone if need be) the address of what you want to see. Maybe even make a note of cross streets. NYC is mostly a grid with incremental numbers for streets and avenues, so finding streets really isn't that difficult.
posted by backwards guitar at 9:54 AM on October 16, 2009


It's a web-based solution, but I'd recommend Hopstop
posted by kuppajava at 10:07 AM on October 16, 2009


I'm a Toronto-based iPhone user who's in NYC a fair amount.

For tranist:
iTrans NYC is an amazingly great subway app that doesn't need net access
The HopStop app is great too, but I'm not sure it works as well offline.
The hopstop web site will email you subway routes, which you can fetch when you have wifi



Maybe useful, previously
posted by ManInSuit at 10:18 AM on October 16, 2009


Also- for offline general maps in NYC, I've used NYC Maps offline. It works okay.

There are a lot of new GPS apps out in the past few months. Most of them work off-line, I think. They are expensive to buy ($75-$100) but some of them are available on a subscription model ($5 or $10/month, I think) which might be just the thing for you. Sorry I don't have suggestions for specifics, but maybe this is a good direction for googling.


I've not jailbroken the phone, and don't really intend too, but if there's something earth shatteringly good, I'd be willing to consider it.


The earth-shatteringly good option is to acually unlock your phone, find a cheap pay-as-you-go plan, and get affordable internet on your phone in the US. But that is by most reports, a somewhat tricky process, failure-prone, etc, etc.
posted by ManInSuit at 10:26 AM on October 16, 2009


If you DO decide to Jailbreak, I would suggest xGPS, which has EXACTLY the functionality you describe: downloadable maps and directions with all data being kept on the phone.
posted by Master Gunner at 11:21 AM on October 16, 2009


There's also an app called Transit Maps that's essentially a PDF viewer that comes preloaded with some cities' PDF transit maps and let you add others. If you grab the NYC bus maps they are also pretty good street maps - the Manhattan one is better than the other boroughs. The bus maps have subway stations on them too but show the streets better than the subway maps.

There is an algorithm for calculating cross street from addresses in Manhattan - NY Magazine sends out little wallet cards with the subway map on one side and the calcs on the other - I wonder if anyone's made an app of that?
posted by yarrow at 12:25 PM on October 16, 2009


Some small tweaks to previous answers, as is my wont...

1) I like KickMap, the $1.99 one, and I'm not even a tourist. :)

2) Jailbreaking and unlocking are unrelated processes, Master Gunner. There's no need to jailbreak just to unlock a phone.

3) If there is a good "pay as you go" plan that includes data use in Canada, the US or UK.... I haven't found it. Someone should make a website/chart.

4) Oh, also, you could make PDFs of google maps then email them to yourself. Open the pdfs on your phone, and then they should be viewable offline later. Alternatively, you could put jpgs of google maps in your camera roll.

PDFs in Mail, yes. I have done this with good results: Make very large (say, 4000x3000 pixel) images by stitching together Google Maps screenshots in a graphics program, save the giant monster as a PDF, and mail it to yourself. Now, even offline or in 'airplane mode', you can open that attachment and scroll/zoom around the giant PDF. I have done this for Paris, London, Mexico City... places I had no data plan. It's essentially the same as a static paper map, but just for the smallish ares you care about, and readable without looking like a hick tourist.

Saved photos, not recommended: no matter how large you make them, they get crunched to a smallish resolution (1024?), which means when you zoom in, all your detail is blurry and lost.
posted by rokusan at 3:54 PM on October 16, 2009


The Central Park NYC map is pretty good. $2.99
posted by casaubon at 4:53 PM on October 16, 2009


http://phantomcity.org/

Otherfutures is a GPS-guided app that lets you see visionary architecture ideas that were never completed. Quite left-field, could be good.
posted by schmichael at 5:03 PM on October 16, 2009


Thanks for all the great answers. I'll try them out and let you guys know which ones worked well.
posted by reformedjerk at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2009


FWIW,

Alternatively, you could put jpgs of google maps in your camera roll.

If you're viewing Google Maps pre-trip on your iPhone, you can save screenshots to the camera roll by pressing the power and home buttons simultaneously.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:22 AM on October 21, 2009


An update! Just yesterday Rogers announced a number of North-america-wide data plans! Here and here.
posted by ManInSuit at 6:27 AM on February 4, 2010


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