NYC Apps


This website is fully mobilized for on-the-go adventures. Just search for "Walking Off the Big Apple" on your phone's browser, and find the simplified mobile version of the posts and pages. The maps are embedded for easy navigation.

Here's a sample of recommended phone apps while strolling around New York. Many are for cultural events and others for taking cool pictures. Read more on iPhoneography here. Check this page regularly as new apps will be added to the list.

Asian Art New YorkThis monthly guide by Asian Art Newspaper to Asian and Islamic art in galleries, auction houses and museums, searchable by names and categories, is especially helpful during Asian Art Week (March 22-25), but good for the rest of the year. The comprehensive exhibition listings, going beyond New York City, serves as a great reminder to check out several must-see exhibits at the Japan Society and the Rubin Museum, for example, but also works at the China Institute Gallery and the Museum of Chinese in America. Price: $0.99

The Best Camera. The motto of this tripartite company (app, book, and community) founded by Chase Jarvis is "The Best Camera is The One That's With You." Filters include Candy, Jewel, Paris (below), Slate, Fade, Warm, Cool, and more, plus functions to make the image square or give it a frame.

Brooklyn Museum Mobile. Brooklyn Museum's straightforward app provides boiler plate press releases of exhibitions and a useful calendar of events with brief descriptions. The special feature on Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party, the feminist landmark artwork installed in the museum, includes biographies of all the women invited to the table. Kids can play the "Gallery Tag" game, accumulating points for spotting fruits, dogs, flowers, and more in the artworks. Free.

CameraBag. Settings on this versatile app encourage matching the scene with an appropriate filter. The lovely Helga and LOLO filters mimic lomography, with the latter paying homage to the Lomo LC-A. Other filters simulate black and white, Polaroid, 1962, and 1974. The "Cinema" setting (above), with its appropriate aspect ratio of 16:9 and silver screen effects, is particularly intriguing.

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Highly Recommended. For fans of chamber music, Instant Encore's app presents a highly musical guide to events and performances by the society. The event guide connects to ticket purchases or a phone call to the box office, plus the location and program. Plug in the earphone to hear Chamber Music Society Radio or one of several featured performances of classical composers or work by new composers. Videos are included, including the humorous educational presentation, 'Where Are My Keys?" Free.

CultureNOW. (Update 8/3/11) A version for Android is now available.) The guide to public art and architecture by Museum Without Walls is most useful for its pre-set tours covering several areas of the city. Themed tours such as a walking tour of 125th Street or Public Art in Midtown include informed descriptions, a podcast, and map. Public art in other cities are included, so as a word of warning, entering a vague search term may turn up a public monument in Minneapolis or Milwaukee. $1.99. Their Downtown Manhattan iPhone app is free.

Explore 9/11 by National September 11 Memorial & Museum is the official 9/11 Memorial application. The app serves as a guide to understanding the events through eyewitnesses. Includes images, a timeline, a seven-stop walking tour with audio and hoots, and an offline mode. Viewer discretion is advised. An additional app explains the arrangement of names on the memorial. Free. 

Format 126. Inspired by the 1963 cartridge-based square 126 film format, mostly associated with the late, great Kodak Instamatic, Format126 includes several inspiring settings such as PolaColor for the old Polaroid look, LOFI (for dreamy colorful toy camera looks), and particularly good black and white settings.

(updated) Hipstamatic, a photo app familiar to readers of this website, recently released version 200. The app is so hipster that one app combo, available for purchase, is called the Williamsburg Starter HipstaPak. The 200 version introduced the SoHo pak, with some smart looks. The 190 version included a film called Claunch 72 Monochrome, a nuanced black and white film. Part of the fun appeal of Synthetic Corp's Hipstamatic app is the ability to test a wide variety of combinations of lens, film, and flash, challenging the image maker to make the smartest combinations for the appropriate content. I mostly like the app for intimate subjects or details, but it can handle big things, too. The Hipstamatic app currently costs $1.99.

Landmarks: New York (screenshot right) by Spatiality Apps locates over 1,300 nearby landmarked buildings and sites in the city, drawn from information in Wikipedia and Landmarks Preservation Commission. Includes a variety of sites including schools, houses of worship, museums, and city buildings.

Lo-Mob. Low-tech photography with this app includes an impressive range of effects. Medium format and retro effects and choices in 35mm film (even slide film!) make this app versatile and fun.

Met Guitars. Highly Recommended. The first app developed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a great one at that, accompanies the exhibit Guitar Heroes - Legendary Craftsman from Italy to New York. The multimedia app highlights the art of handcrafted jazz guitars of the last seven decades by  John D’Angelico (1905-1964), James D’Aquisto (1935-95) and John Monteleone (born 1947) but also includes the tradition of luthiers. The app can work as a stand alone appreciation of the beautiful instruments, certainly enhanced by the recordings. Free.

MetroFocus by WNET, New York's major public media content provider - we call it "Thirteen" for its TV station, includes news, features, culture stories, weather and transit alerts. Good daily summary of local stories and events. Integrated with Foursquare. Free.

MoMA. Useful calendar of daily events at the Museum of Modern Art, with the function to "Pick a Day" for advance planning. Also included are overviews of special exhibitions, audio mobile tours, art terminology, film schedules, and more. Free.

New York City Center. The center's app serves mainly as an event guide of daily listings and a gateway for ticket purchases to the center on W. 55th Street. Useful for knowing what's on, but could be improved with a description of the event.

New York City Compass
New York City Compass, designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a certain direction, the letters will turn blue. This comes in handy when stepping out into an unfamiliar neighborhood from the subway. Back in the day, all you ever needed to know about New York City could be summed in the words Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. We should go back to this way again. No more contrived names for neighborhoods. When you're watching Mad Men, for example, and someone says they're going downtown, you know exactly what that means. Free.

New York. Domus Architecture Guides. Highly Recommended. At $4.99, it's pricey for an app, but this informed and well-written mobile guide to the city's best modern architecture is worth it. A select number of buildings get a succinct treatment, but the description will let you pass any test in modernism. Learn about structures like the Modulighter Building on East 58th St., one of Paul Rudolph's last buildings, with its "puzzle-like facade" or Tadao Ando's design of Morimoto on 10th Avenue. Or consult the useful map to explore modern buildings nearby.

New Yorker Goings On. Surely, readers of this website do not need an introduction to The New Yorker. Perhaps, some of you are even old enough to remember the day when the famous literary magazine did not include photographs. Just so you know, the venerable magazine has been on the forefront of the app world, including this app with event listings and staff recommendations. Free.

NYC ARTS. Alliance for the Arts. Highly Recommended.This app by Alliance for the Arts invites an exploration of NY cultural events occurring in the next three days and, based on the user's current location, within walking distance. The combination of time and location proves highly motivating, offering a no excuses choice for cultural events nearby. Or choose a neighborhood to wander, find the exhibits and performances, and just go. Certainly, no excuses - the app is free. Free.

NYC City Maps. NYC & Company and have teamed up to create a business-friendly map with logos for major retailers, hotels, and restaurants. The busy app includes integration with Foursquare and other social services. Free.

NYCMate, with subway and bus maps for all the boroughs, is easier to read and use than many of the other transit maps. Free.

NYC Way could be described as an app of apps, because it contains multiple applications - everything from a list of nearby restaurants to nearby public restrooms to Wifi locations to street food. Some of the restaurant information is out of date, but it's hard to keep up a current data base with new restaurants opening and old ones closing. Favorites here include the list of free things and nearby art galleries. Free.

NYC Tip, another simple app from Francesco Bertelli. Easy way to calculate 15%, 18%, or 20% tips on a meal and split the bill by up to five people. Free.

New York Philharmonic
NY Philharmonic. From the New York Philharmonic, a handy preview of musical happenings along with music, videos, and events. On demand streaming of weekly radio broadcasts. Free.

Open Table, the website that allows diners to search and place reservations for restaurants, eventually accumulating redeemable points, has an attractive app with thumbnail pix of restaurants, availability for tables by time slot, distance, pricing information, diner reviews, and sometimes the actual menu. Click on an available opening, and you're set for dinner. Free.

ProCameraFor those who like to take their images fast and with more clarity and truer colors, the ProCamera app by includes many excellent features - good zoom and image processing with tones and effects. An Expert mode gives control over exposure and focus. Post-editing offers many vintage looks, retouching, and color options. ProCamera currently costs $2.99.

Pro HDRThe iPhone 4 camera has an optional setting for HDR, or High Dynamic Range, meaning the ability to combine a wide range of light and dark in one image. The process often involves merging an underexposed image (dark) and an overexposed image (light), or even many more images along the range, so that what is usually perceived by the human eye - a starry night or a cloudy sky above dark city streets - might be better rendered in a photographic image. Just because you can see it doesn't mean your camera can. Consider purchasing the Pro HDR app by eyeApps. The app takes an underexposed image (dark) and an overexposed image (light) and then aligns and merges them.

Time Out New York maintains an extensive list of events and things to do in the city, so the app is particularly useful. Quite frankly, I find their previews and lists so thorough that sometimes I am overwhelmed and must take a nap. The geo-location feature provides a nice survey of what's happening nearby.

TKTS. Highly Recommended. As advertised, this official TKTS app is the best way to get current information about discounted theater tickets available at the TKTS booths. In fact, the app links with the information displayed on the boards at all three locations - Times Square, South Street Seaport, and Downtown Brooklyn. Includes a show search for Broadway and Off- and Off-Off Broadway, and an online magazine. The app includes descriptions of each play and musical, allowing the frugal theater goer to make the wise selection. Be sure to check out the "Tips" feature, and follow the advice. Also available for Android. Price: $0.99 

TWC Max. The Weather Channel 's enhanced app (Max) is most useful for times of inclement weather. The "Explore Map" function gives a sense of any precipitation headed your way. $3.99

Twitter. The app from the popular social networking site. Follow the right people and institutions, and you get a terrific source of local news and timely event reminders, as well as an engaging social media site. Free.

Urbanspoon, a longtime popular iPhone app, still comes in handy when deciding upon a restaurant. With variables for type of cuisine, neighborhood, and price, Urbanspoon spins its magic and comes up with a suggested place. Don't care for the selection? Spin again, or just shake the whole phone. Sometimes, the list of restaurants is not extensive or selected eateries are squeezed into the wrong category, but at least the app helps expand a list of options for dining out.

Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss. While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99