By Terry Gardner, Special to Tribune Newspapers
8:12 PM EDT, October 2, 2012
Nokia Drive (free for all Nokia Lumia phones)
What it is: an app that provides turn-by-turn navigation, mapping, listed directions and offline maps. Eventually Nokia will make the Nokia Drive app available to Windows Phone 8 Partners. The app measures distances according to European standards (meters), U.K. standards (yards and miles) and U.S. standards (feet and miles).
How it works: After launching, you choose whether to view the map in 2-D or 3-D. You can set audio alerts for when you are exceeding the speed limit or driving too slowly. The app also can be set to alert you about upcoming landmarks. Traffic info is onboard for 26 countries, including the U.S. and Canada.
Why it's great: This app may be the most multilingual of any navigation app, with support for more than 50 languages and dozens of downloadable guide voices for navigation across six continents. The app has a "My Commute" feature that learns your driving preferences.
Why you might hesitate: No reason to hesitate if you have a Nokia Lumia phone. If you are carrying another phone, email Nokia and ask them to make a version for iOS or Android.
Nokia City Lens (free for Nokia Lumia 900, 800 and 710 phones)
What it is: a location-based augmented-reality app that uses the phone's camera viewfinder to help people discover restaurants, attractions and sights nearby.
How it works: You launch the app and choose a category for the type of sight you want, whether it's "nearby," "food," "hotels," etc. The app calculates distances in either miles or kilometers. City Lens has public transit maps for more than 500 cities.
Why it's great: It makes discovering what's around you entertaining. The augmented reality is ideal for exploring a new city or your hometown on foot. Indoors, it's fun to aim the camera at a bed to see how far away you are from Taco Bell or McDonald's.
Why you might hesitate: A separate "services" category would be helpful, because barbers and plumbers currently appear under shopping. Transport could use two categories, one for public (trains and buses) and another for private (taxis and limos). But these are minor quibbles.
Foodspotting (free for iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry phones)
What it is: an app where specific dish recommendations or cravings can lead you to a restaurant. The iOS and Android versions have a few extra features, including a specials tab that can lead to discounts in certain cities. But Alexa Andrzejewski, CEO of Foodspotting.com, says that many love the simple, direct focus on food of the Windows and BlackBerry versions.
How it works: Instead of focusing on restaurant reviews, this user-friendly app zeros in on specific dishes using photos uploaded by Foodspotters. You choose a restaurant to see what looks good or search for specific foods such as pizza, steak, etc. Users can share Foodspotting images and reviews via social media.
Why it's great: I prefer searching for a place to eat based on the food I want rather than having to scour negative and positive reviews on one of the review-based apps (sorry, Yelpers). When I searched for a filet mignon near me in Santa Monica, Calif., I discovered I was within two miles of a slew of options. The same was true when I searched for tofu.
Why you might hesitate: Apart from a desire to give up food and lose weight, I can't find any reason not to have this free app.
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