The smartphone can be a road warrior’s handiest tool when it comes to navigating unfamiliar streets. The device’s built-in GPS can not only steer you toward your next meeting, but also keep you from getting stranded if unexpected obstacles (such as traffic jams and road work) pop up.
Here are three mobile apps (all free) that you should download no matter where you’re headed next.
1. Uber – If you want to take a client out for a night on the town — and make a good impression — Uber is your ticket. Available in almost 20 major cities in the United States, Canada, and Europe, the town car service lets you find rides on demand via
smartphone. The app’s map displays the available rides closest to you, including how long it will take for the car to reach you. After you order a ride, you can track the dispatched car en route.
Rides cost more than the standard taxi fare, but you avoid the hassle of flagging one down. If you happen to need a lift during a peak time — say on New Year’s Eve or after a big ballgame — the prices go up further. The entire transaction, from calling for a ride to paying for it, takes place via the app and a credit card that you place on file when you sign up for the service. Uber is available as an iPhone or Android app and also works via web and SMS.
2. HopStop – Sometimes you just need to get somewhere fast without spending too much money. Enter HopStop, which helps you navigate the public transit system, from the subway to the bus, for nearly 100 cities in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Available for free for iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile phones, the app offers maps, schedules, directions, and a trip planner. HopStop also helps you find the nearest station. Think of the smaller carbon footprint you’ll make if you don’t drive or rent a car (it calculates that, too).
3. Waze – If you do drive, turn to Waze to help you determine the fastest route around town. The free turn-by-turn navigation app uses data culled from other drivers to calculate the best way to get to your destination; this includes avoiding traffic jams and other real-time hazards and delays.
So don’t be late for your next meeting. Waze is available for the iOS, Android, and some Nokia, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry phones.