Americans Abroad: London Through the Eyes of Your Smartphone

by on ‎07-26-2012 11:16 PM - last edited on ‎04-20-2016 11:26 PM by (11,199 Views)

London is one of the world’s most exciting cities. There’s so much to see and do– from free art exhibitions, to jaw-dropping musical productions and family-friendly festivals (Like the chocolate festival, aaahhh). While you’re there, make the most of your trip! 


Getting to the UK 


Leaving on a jet plane? Let’s face it you’re probably looking at hours aboard a tin can on wings. But at least these handy planning apps can make the prep stage a little easier.


TripIt (all platforms – free) – organize your flight the easy way! Forward any booking or confirmation emails directly to, and get a personal itinerary sent to you automatically. You can sync your itinerary with Google calendar or iCal. TripIt can also synchronise with other travel apps like FlightTrack for an even better service. 


WorldMate (Android, iPhone – annual subscriptions service) – If you like the look of TripIt, but want to squeeze even more options and services out of your apps, WorldMate should suit you well. Although the WorldMate service carries an annual subscription charge, it offers a massive amount of functionality, including updates for delayed/cancelled flights and offers of alternative routes and transport. 


Getting around while you’re there


Travelling by overground train (to cities across the UK)


The Trainline (all platforms) (free) – as far as UK train travel goes, has always been a boon. The mobile app is easy to use, lets you check train times and book tickets quickly and securely. It also syncs your booking with your Google calendar.. 


Virgin Trains (all platforms) (free) – you can use this handy app to book trains up to ten minutes before departure and collect them from Virgin’s FastTicket machines.


Travelling by underground train (across London)


London Bus (iApple iPhone – £0.69) – similar to Google’s Layar app, London Bus by Press Elite uses augmented reality to show the location of tube, bus and tram stops. It also ties in with places to rent bikes, attractions and refreshments. If you prefer augmented reality to staring at a map, this will be the app for you. 


London Transport Pro (Android – £1.49) – out of the many London transport apps on Google’s Play Store, this one has it all. Merging information from Tube and DLR services with live departure boards for London’s bus network, London Transport Pro allows you to set your favourite locations making it even easier to get from A to Zoo.  


Travelling by car


Google Maps/Navigation (all platforms – free) – get walking or driving directions, public transport information, all with turn-by-turn and voice guided navigation.  When you pair this with the exceptional Google Maps website, you can plan your route on your computer and use your smartphone to find your way. 


Navfree: Free GPS Navigation (Apple iPhoneAndroid – free) – a decent, cost-effective alternative to Google Maps, powered by OpenStreetMap. Navfree features turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts, and offline map storage to save data.


Discovering your surroundings


Google Places (Android, iPhone – free) – Places works with Google Maps and uses your phone’s GPS to find local businesses and attractions. Simply load up the app, tell it what kind of service you’re looking for and let it search for relevant places nearby. You can see other people’s user ratings and pick the best service near you.


Yelp (All Platforms – free) – Yelp acts in a very similar way to Google Places but relies more on user reviews and opinions. Yelp has an easily accessible mobile webpage for smartphones.. Download the app and try it out. 


Eat, drink and be merry


Time Out London mobile app (Android, iPhone – free) – In my opinion, Time Out London is the best way to find hidden gems like free art exhibitions and family-friendly festivals. Find nearby restaurants, bars, films, gigs and entertainment to enjoy during your stay.


Toptable mobile (Android, iPhone – free) – I’ve been using toptable to find great local restaurants and make online bookings for years. It’s great because you get honest user reviews, star ratings and candid photos, plus booking reminders and rewards.


We hope you enjoy your stay in the UK. Don’t forget — Geek Squad is available 24/7 in the UK, should you need any assistance with your technology.


By Agent Peter Cruickshank (UK)

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