A UK relocation inevitably raises a lot of questions for new expats, not least of which are where to shop, find entertainment, how to get around, and just generally familiarize with the lay of the land. I wrote last week about how we are moving forward in this 21st century with amazingly helpful technological advances (see “London Moving into the Future with Underground WiFi” as another UK relocation reference). Sure, the pipes and electrical cords scaling the exterior brick walls of our Victorian terrace houses don’t scream innovation, but they do allow us to enjoy The New inside of The Old (we needn’t sacrifice everything for a UK relocation…). And citywide there’s a deluge of information invisibly criss-crossing through the air to help us find what we need around town. Which brings me to today’s topic: top mobile apps!
One classic London resource for a UK relocation is what locals have typically known best as the “A to Zed.” This spiral atlas comes in different sizes in its physical form, but for $1.99 (USD) you can download instead the London Visitors A-Z app for iPhone or iPad—for $2.99, you can also get the London Mini A-Z for iPhone, either of which will supply you with detailed neighborhood maps that can also be used offline.
One glance at these maps will show you this is an extensive terrain to traverse, so for when you’re not inclined to just hoof it, three major modes of transport are available to you: tube, taxi, and bus. As a tourist, you might have gotten away with not having to use the London Underground system, but after a UK relocation, figuring it out is essential. To help you, the London Tube Deluxe app ($0.99) details the full tube map as well as live service updates, timetables, nearest tube stations, and journey-planning, which might include linking your Underground journey with an Overground train or bus—bus routes, too, are accordingly provided. For more extensive information on bus routes and arrival times, the same developer of the Tube app just released its Live Bus Times app; once on the bus, it’ll also give you the heads-up on approaching stops, as the maps posted at bus stops do not label every single stop along the way (which I still find a big pain no matter how much better I know my way around London since my UK relocation).
Sometimes, though, it’s just easier to hail that taxi…but for the times when not even that is simple, the iPhone Hailo app is hugely convenient—and free! Also known as the “The Black Cab App,” this lil’ beauty will give you arrival times of the nearest taxis and let you book one at a moment’s notice wherever you are, allowing you to pay by cash or card. It’s been featured in major publications like TimeOut London, London Evening Standard, and The Sunday Times, and with a price of nothin’, can you afford not to try it and make your UK relocation that much easier??
Speaking of TimeOut London, there are iPhone apps galore out there for resources like that that’ll clue you in on what’s on when and where once you’ve made your UK relocation and are ready to play. London: Travel Guide – TimeOut is itself an app keeping you apprised of upcoming events and venues, and Topsee (brought to us by lastminute.com) is another free means of exploring your local neighborhood for hidden gems off the beaten path and diverse food, drink, and shopping options. If your UK relocation has your inner thespian particularly eager to see a show in London’s famed West End theatre district, then iTheatre is the app to download (again, for free) to find updated show listings, times, and reviews as well as purchase tickets—some deals offer as much as 60% off regular price!
Even London’s museums have gotten in on the app action. For $2.99, the Love Art: National Gallery, London app contains images of the National Gallery’s collection of paintings. Art you can actually touch! The images are high-res, zoomable, and supplemented by audio commentary. Museum of London: Streetmuseum similarly offers up its extensive archives (for no fee) but also interacts with your iPhone’s camera—if you’re walking along a street and curious about that particular locale’s history, simply select your location in the app (or use your GPS to locate an archived image of somewhere nearby) and hold your camera up to view the present scene on your screen; you will then see a historical overlay of the same scene back in time. I only just learned about this one and think it’s an utterly wicked way to know London better after a UK relocation!
So after that brief diversion into the fun stuff, it’s back to the reality of your day-to-day life to follow your UK relocation. Similar to a couple of the apps mentioned above but also encompassing the practical is AroundMe. This free app identifies your location and helps you readily find the nearest grocery store, restaurant, bank, gas station, hospital, theatre, pub, taxi, and so on and so forth. How awesome is that for when you’re first getting acclimated for a UK relocation? And for groceries specifically, maybe it won’t be a matter of trying to find the store as much as avoiding it—in which case, the Ocado On the Go app will let you browse thousands of items and purchase them for delivery right to your apartment.
Man, if I’d had an iPhone with these apps available at the time of my own UK relocation, I would’ve enjoyed more tech and less tears. 🙂