After our little trip across the Pacific to Japan, we're headed back to the old continent with a stop in London. Before the hype of the 2012 Olympics hits the city this summer, we've decided to give you an overview of the best Android apps to use while enjoying the sights and sounds of the British capital. Know where to get the best fish & chips, find out the secret to finding a cheap cab and discover all the great things London has to offer as part of our AndroidPIT On the Road series. Cheers!
Time Out London
If you had to pick one ultimate mobile guide for London, then it would definitely be Time Out. The app offers you the best of what London has to offer divided by categories and neighborhoods. Looking for a decent restaurant? Searching for a specific museum? Feel like seeing a play? Whatever your preference, TimeOut presents you with a palette of interesting choices to select from. And each location comes with a detailed editorial recommendation, prices, opening hours and tips for other things to see in the area. But it is the integrated city map that really makes the app stand out making Time Out ideal for finding your way through the labyrinth of London's streets. And if you feel like you're at a loss as to how to spend your evenings, you can wholeheartedly editor's choice of cool things to do on the app's main page.
London Underground Free
There is simply no way of getting around the London Underground on a visit to the British capital as it is the most efficient way to get around town. Besides bearing the proud title of the world's oldest subway system, the Tube is also notorious for having the world's most expensive fares. In any case, navigating the cluttered and expansive network is a challenge without a reliable app. Although the City of London has so far failed to release an official Android app, London Underground Free is by far the most reliable and well-designed app for the job. Everything is simple, intuitive and – most importantly- accessible offline. And best of all the app let's you exactly how many minutes it takes to get from any two stations, allowing you to eyeball the quickest route.
London is on top of the whole bike-sharing trend, offering a cycling rental system of its own known as the Barclays Cycle Hire. At the center of the bike-sharing service is the official Barclays Bikes app, which deserves a round of applause. Having covered the bike hiring systems of Paris and Barcelone, we have to admit that London's official Android app puts other European cities to shame. Aside from finding the nearest available set of wheels and planning your route, Barclay Bikes also helps you find the nearest cycling parking space and directs to London's biking super highways. That's right: London has over 12 dedicated extra-wide bike lanes that get you from one end of the city to the other in flash – without having to deal with congestion. And the best perk for visitors: non-UK tourists can use the system on a casual basis without getting a membership.
Finding a cab on a late night in London can be a nightmare. So to save you the stress of flagging a taxi in London, there is Kabbee – an app that allows you to book minicabs in advance. Unlike the official black cabs, there is a plethora of different minicab companies out there and Kabbee gives you the tools to find the best one. Knowing that some minicabs lack professionalism, Kabbee weeds out the bad apples and offers its users only the most reliable companies. Most importantly, it's secure, reliable and meant to save you money. In a expensive city such as London, Kabbee is an indispensible tool to have – whether it's for getting to the airport on time or coming home after a tremendous party.
One of the best attractions in London to visit as a family is undoubtedly the city's impressive zoo. This app allows you to prepare for your upcoming trip. Aside from the usual visitor's information on hours, prices and amenities, the London Zoo app is filled with detailed information about the animals exhibited in the zoo – a nice educational element for the kids, of course. Another great feature: the friend finder. To prevent friends and families from getting lost in the zoo (we've all had our horror stories), you can give someone a personal PIN that will allow them to track your location in the zoo for 24 hours. That surely solves the problem of having to always walk around in a big group. And if you feel like you've had enough of your rowdy kids: consult the integrated calendar and send them off to enjoy a show.
Set up for the Milleniuem in 2000, the London Eye was intially built as a temporary construction. Caving into public pressues, the big ferris wheel is still around and has become a part of the city's urban landscape. With the help of the London Eye app you'll be able to get a better glimpse of London's premium tourist attraction. Enjoy a 3D panoramic view of London on your smartphone, listen to an integrated audio guide and find out fun facts about the wheel as you stand in line to see the real thing. Now that's what we call augmented reality in the 21st century.
Among the many different attractions available in the city, going to see a football match at one of London's many stadiums is an absolute must. Even if you don't care for the sport (i.e. you're from the States), sitting in the stands of Premier League is a worthwhile spectacle. With 5 teams in the Premier League this season, London has enough top-notch footballing action to make you love the beautiful game. With the official Barclays Football app, you can catch up on all the latest scores and find out about upcoming fixtures. Whether it's Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham – the app shows you where you can get a pint before the game and buy a jersey as a keepsake with the help of an augmented reality map. Go team!