The last time we did a roundup of Chicago's best smartphone apps, Siri wasn't a thing. The iPad wasn't a thing. People didn't even take selfies. So we're due for an update.
Here are five apps any Chicagoan—well, certainly the newest Chicagoans—should have ready on an iOS or Android phone.
Robert Loerzel tipped us off about this farmers market-finder in his startup roundup at Crain's. Foodlander logs your phone's GPS data and displays a list of farmers markets near you. The app is perfect for navigating the produce stands that pop up under your neighborhood L tracks:
Local vendors can register with the app to upload locations, products, and special promotions which you can bookmark and track—all for the quite aggreeable price of zero. The app is for iOS (Android coming soon).
We noted in May that the CTA's online train tracker is really nifty. The webpage lets you to choose your CTA line and station from a drop-down menu and displays real-time ETAs for trains arriving from either direction.
Problem is, if you're pinched enough for time that a live-feeding train tracker is even remotely useful, the 30 seconds it takes to open Safari, navigate to the CTA's website, and choose your line and stop could mean a missed connection.
That's where QuickTrain comes in. This external app logs GPS data to determine which stop you're nearest, then pulls ETAs right to your phone. So, rather than deciding if you're closer to State/Lake or Randolph/Wabash, you can just open QuickTrain and see one of these:
You can also choose stops by line, if, for example you're headed to the State/Lake station, but you can only use a brown line train. QuickTrain costs a buck, and it's worth every penny. For iOS only.
Chicago natives, skip this section. Chicago Neighborhoods was created by a new Chicagoan for new Chicagoans. Lakeview transplant Dave Krawczyk jumped on Reddit last week to promote this new app, which is little more than an iOS map of Chicago divided by neighborhood.
The app uses GPS and the city's data portal to determine, by intersection, which neighborhood you're in at any given moment. You can also search for neighborhoods to see where they are. Where is this East Ukrainian Village place everyone keeps talking about?
Chicago Neighborhoods is available for iOS (Android version coming soon).
Update: Somebody seems to have eaten all the hot dog apps, but presumably more will be cooked up shortly.
This app is simple. You want Chicago dog? iPhone find Chicago dog:
Vienna Beef Locator
The app will help you build Chicago dog at home, too. Step 1: Bun. Step 2: Dog. Wait, sorry, that's a "juicy Vienna Beef Hot Dog" in step 2 there.
Crafted by PBSC Urban Solutions—one of the companies behind Chicago's bike-sharing program—CycleFinder maps Divvy bikes and docks nearest you. Depending on whether you want to park or ride, you can view available bikes or empty docks. The