Apps for Living in Town

I remember back in the Palm days that I used Metro extensively. I bought the iOS version and have used it a bit, and its extensive database of cities is impressive. I have even used it to navigate the vaporetto system in Venice. However, apps based solely on location specific data can be designed not as a compromise but as a very useful tool for that specific place.

As I navigate my way around the Boston environs, one locale specific app stands out above the others. Catch the Bus is an app that pulls real time data from GPS devices in MBTA buses and uses an algorithm to estimate when they will arrive at the stop I am moving toward. I can amble or dash depending on the minutes left. This app is amazingly reliable; unfortunately, their app for trains is less user friendly. I use a combination of Open MBTA and Catch the T to get around on trains and boats.

I was really excited when Cambridge finally came out with its 411 app. I have read about New York’s and was surprised that Cambridge was so far behind in getting one out. Called iReport, the app only allows for reporting potholes, defective lights, rodents, graffiti, and unshoveled walks. There is no link to email with another problem or even a phone number. I hope this app gets a major overhaul. I have not used it yet, but maybe I will report that light that has an amazingly loud buzz that can wake me up in the open-window season.

The app I’d love to see developed is an effective one for the Minuteman Library catalog. There is a poorly implemented one that an individual wrote, but I’d like the library to bite the bullet and produce the app themselves (or pay to have it done). I use the library a lot, and this would make life much more convenient.

What locale specific apps do people use?


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