There’s an A2 App For That

. February 27, 2013.
iphone5_0

Have you ever spent hours looking for a place to park in Ann Arbor on a football Saturday? Suffering from a midnight craving, but have no idea which delivery restaurant to call? Are your kids asking about when you can visit the newest exhibit at the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum? No worries, because there's an app for that! Thanks to smartphone technology, various vendors and local businesses are now capitalizing on the opportunity to better serve Ann Arbor locals by offering apps full of helpful information. Most of the apps featured below are available on-the-go (without a Wi-Fi signal) and are either free or low-cost to you! (Ratings out of five stars: •••••)

 MLive.com
Price: FREE     
Rating: •••• •
If you’re one of those people who enjoys checking news headlines on the commute to work, then this app is perfect! As a mobile-friendly version of mlive.com, it offers identical content to what appears online while the interface is easy to read and access on a smartphone. Most of the articles are full-length within the app, but if they’re not, you’ll be directed to the web-version with a link at the bottom. This app also allows you to save stories in a “favorites” folder as well as share them via email, text, Facebook or Twitter. Overall, a very pleasurable and easy way to keep up with both local and national news!

CheapEats
Price: FREE     
Rating: ••
Looking for a quick bite? On a tight budget? This app lists various takeout and delivery options in the A2 downtown/campus area. After selecting a restaurant, the app takes you to a “Deal” page, which typically offers a weekly special or app-only deal. You can also view a map of all available options, as well as share the restaurant deals with a friend via email. Although location and phone numbers are provided, the app is quite limited in terms of providing food categories or menu items.

Ann Arbor Art Fairs
Price: FREE   
Rating: ••••
Assuming they update it for this year’s 2013 Art Fair, this app is an excellent way to access information about event sponsors, artists, locations, entertainment and transportation. Although it currently hosts an overview of the 2012 Art Fair, it is clearly very detailed and helpful for guests to utilize during the event. Artists are listed and organized by type of art as well as booth number. You can also pick “favorites” to track the artists you enjoy, as well as view a detailed map of activity and event locations and a schedule of performers.

Ann Arbor Genius Map
Price: 99¢  
Rating: ••
If you’re looking for something a bit more detailed than Google Maps or the app provided on your smartphone, this offline map offers all the “insider” information you could ever need to get around A2. With large-scale detail, the ability to search quickly and the option to “bookmark” your favorite locations, this easy-access app makes finding your way around town enjoyable and stress-free. Your bookmarks can even be used to remind you where you parked your car—or to share locations with friends! The only major downside to this app is that you can only search by street names, so the usability is quite limited.

Ann Arbor Travel Guides
Price: 99¢
Rating: ••••
This offline, easy-access travel guide is the perfect addition to the genius map application listed above. Offering travel categories such as sights, transportation, entertainment, shopping, lodging, and eat/drink options, this is definitely a full-service A2 app. The interface is a bit dated, although the detailed information about specific local businesses and restaurants is something that even locals will enjoy. The information about entertainment and events really caught my attention—there is so much going on here year-round that even I don’t know about!

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum (AAHOM)
Price: FREE     
Rating: •••
Need to keep the kids occupied? Check out this app’s listing of upcoming events at the AAHOM, complete with the date/time, special admission price info, and a preview of the event. The app also offers a map of all museum floors so that you won’t miss any of the suggested highlights. Under the “Exhibits” tab, you’ll find a mobile barcode scanner to use while visiting the museum, which provides access to additional exhibit information online. The additional section also provides contact info, hours of operation and admission prices.   

Game Day Parking
Price: $1.99
Rating: •••
It’s no secret that finding affordable parking on a Michigan Football Saturday is a nearly impossible challenge. This app offers a valuable listing of preferred parking options, whether in a public garage or on a private lawn, as well as a listing of price, address, and distance to the stadium. While the app isn’t updated with the number of day-of spaces available, it does provide information about tailgating, parking rules and off-site shuttle services to and from the stadium. Some spots also offer web links for additional detail and location info.

Ann Arbor 107one
Price: FREE
Rating: ••
Loyal to your local radio station, even when you’re not in the car or online? This app offers a live broadcast of A2’s 107.1 FM so that you can enjoy free radio on the go! While the sidebar suggests you can also access a list of blogs and concerts, these categories do not yet appear to be working. You can, however, access a “Recent” section, with the names/artists of the radio lineup and links to purchase the songs on iTunes. A blog, “sweetjack”, is also listed and leads you to a website with local A2 deals.

Michigan Radio/Your NPR News Station
Price: FREE     
Rating: •••••
With a live broadcast of the Michigan NPR station, this app provides real-time access to the current program offering as well as access to a variety of recent podcasts available on-demand. The app also offers a built-in alarm, so you can schedule the broadcast to begin streaming at a specific time (although the app must remain open and in the clock mode), you have the option to play the podcast while using other features of your smartphone, and you can also visit the full website from a link within the app. The “More” tab lists the full program schedule and allows you to sign up for a newsletter.

University of Michigan
Price: FREE     
Rating: •••••
If you’re a University of Michigan student, or you’re regularly on campus and utilize the bus system, this app is a must-have. The “Magic Bus” section offers estimated bus arrival times so that you know exactly the length of an expected wait. The “Menus” section offers meal selections at all on-campus dining halls, while the “Directory” enables you to search for anyone on the UM listserv. You can also search for various campus locations, view most campus events, access cTools (the student portal), stay informed with current news (from Michigan Radio, MGoBlue athletics, The Michigan Daily, and the U-M Health System), and play recorded lectures via iTunes U.

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