Rapid advice right on your cell phone

  • By Rob Pegoraro The Washington Post
  • Friday, December 26, 2008 4:43pm
  • Life

Few things say “bewildered tourist” like standing on a sidewalk, guidebook in hand, as you scan the surroundings. But if you’re peering at the screen of a cell phone you look like you’re just sending a text message, even if you’re seeking dining advice with a free phone program.

The most widely used program of this sort is Google Maps (google.com/gmm), available for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Palm phones. In most cases, it quickly fixes your location and can then find nearby businesses by category (“restaurant”) or name (“Arnaud’s”). On some phones, it also provides Street View panoramas.

Google Maps doesn’t report much about what people think of the places it finds, but many newer location-aware applications can, most of them available on Apple’s iPhone via its App Store icon.

Yelp provides an immense database of user-contributed reviews of restaurants, bars, stores and much else. Its lengthy restaurant listings need more filtering options, and its locals-first advice can leave you guessing about hotels.

The plainer, perhaps more practical iWant simply lists the closest options in such travel-relevant categories as hotels, drugstores and banks. The program Where lets you choose from multiple review sources (Yelp included) as you pan around a map.

For looking up restaurants alone, UrbanSpoon links to multiple online reviews and offers the giggle-inducing option of shaking the iPhone like a Magic 8 Ball to get a random suggestion. But it covers only major cities.

OpenTable has similar coverage limits but also lets you see which places have tables free, then book one online.

Google’s new Android phone software, running on the T-Mobile G1, allows access to Wikitude drawing on articles from Wikitravel and guides you to this advice through the G1’s camera.

Talk to us

More in Life

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay walks into the Prohibition Grille along Hewitt Avenue in Everett Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012 while reportedly filming an episode of Kitchen Nightmares at the Everett restaurant. (Mark Mulligan / The Herald)
Even more films and TV shows filmed in Snohomish County

Readers point out projects previously missed in this series, from reality television to low-budget indie films.

Daniella Beccaria / for The Herald

15-month-old Kantu attempts to climb a pumpkin at Stocker Farms in Snohomish on Sunday, September 20th, 2015. Stocker Farms offers a U-pick patch, farm animals and a corn maze.
Best pumpkin patch in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied, here are the results.

Everett comedian Taylor Clark performs stand-up in 2023 at The Triple Door in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mike Bryk)
Comedian Taylor Clark to film first special Friday in Everett

The skateboarding funny-man will record an hour of his stand-up at the Historic Everett Theater.

Local musician Alex Johnston, whose newest album "Daylight Fooldream" pairs with short film he made with help from his partner Mikaela Henderson, sits with his morning coffee on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, at Narrative Coffee in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Folktronica musician shoots 37-minute visual album on iPhone in Everett

Alex Johnston, 31, describes his music as ”if Coldplay and Bon Iver had a love child.”

Death of parent with child. Piece of paper with parents and children is torn in half.
Helping children cope with the hard realities of divorce

I’s important to set aside one’s feelings and find a way to make this challenging transition as comfortable for children as you can.

In Belgium, each type of beer has its own glass – whether wide, tall, or fluted – to show off its distinct qualities.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Bruges brews lift a weary traveler’s spirits

The Belgian city is a mecca for beer lovers from around the world.

Children’s author Barbara Herkert to lead Story Time at Edmonds Bookshop, Friday September 29th, 9:30-10:00 am!
Author to read her new kids book at Edmonds bookstore

Author Barbara Herkert will read “This Old Madrone Tree” Friday at Edmonds Bookshop.

Flowering knotweed Persicaria amplexicaulis firetail in the morning light.
Save for one infamous variety, fleece flowers are easy to fall in love with

This long-blooming, easy-to-grow perennial comes in many desirable varieties. But watch out: One is an invasive knotweed.

A view of King Street Station in Seattle, Washington from an Amtrak Cascades train to Portland, Oregon from Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Ride the rails on Amtrak Cascades from Everett to Portland

Make new friends and let Amtrak do the driving on this 5-hour trip past sea, city and forest.

Most Read