The best apps for New York City

Make your life easier in every way with these essential NYC apps

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We’re all agreed that NY is the greatest city in the world, right? We’ll admit that sometimes the sheer size of the city can be intimidating, but once you shrink it down to the size of your smartphone, it’s a lot easier to manage. Fortunately, there’s a whole universe of apps out there that help you do just that—here are twenty of the best. Of course, none of them beat the all-purpose Time Out New York app, but who could expect them to? Feast your eyes on our selection of the greatest Gotham apps right now, then get busy with our list of the best NYC life hacks. The city is your oyster.

RECOMMENDED: Best of 2014

Food and drink

CUPS

What it does: Gets you great deals on coffee drinks at independent shops all over the city at several subscription levels, including $120 for all you can drink for a whole month.
Why you need it in your life: You need your coffee in the morning, and there are places to get it other than Starbucks— Gotham is a veritable treasure trove of damn fine indie coffee shops.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: cupsapp.com

Minibar

What it does: Lets you order booze from local purveyors, and plenty of it (there’s a $25 minimum), which is delivered to your door in less than an hour for no delivery fee.
Why you need it in your life: The convenience of New York’s famous Chinese takeout is great and all, but is sorely lacking in alcohol content.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: minibardelivery.com

NYC Wifi + Coffee

What it does: Exactly as it sounds! NYC Wifi + Coffee offers a curated list of spots, from small cafes to parks, with both free wi-fi and easy access to hot, delicious java.
Why you need it in your life: Because what says New York like conspicuously laptop-wielding coffee drinkers sitting around in public?
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: everplaces.squarespace.com

Shout

What it does: Lets you swap cash for hard-to-get restaurant reservations, tickets, and even spots in line for all kinds of exclusive stuff from consumers who don’t want them anymore.
Why you need it in your life: In a city of 8 million people, all vying to experience the same sources of entertainment and culture, Shout renders the notion of “sold out” forever obsolete.
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: useshout.com


Getting around

iTrans

What it does: The most comprehensive one-stop guide you’re liable to find, iTrans includes maps, up-to-the-minute departure and arrival schedule, service alerts, neighborhood maps, and more.
Why you need it in your life: You sure don’t want to risk squinting at one of those wall-mounted maps in the station and risk looking like a tourist. Plus it will be nice to know when your train is coming for once.
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: itrans.info/landing/NYC

Exit Strategy

What it does: Subway and bus maps for all five boroughs are merely an added convenience—the real selling point is a guide to entrance/exit locations for every subway station in NYC, along with suggestions for where exactly to stand on the platform before boarding your train to minimize the distance you’ll have to walk to emerge back on the sidewalk once you reach your destination.
Why you need it in your life: Think of all time and effort you’ll save on your morning not having to traverse the entirety of the platform while (barely) avoiding subway preachers and oblivious headphone-wearers.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Blackberry
Get the app: exitstrategynyc.com

CitiBike app

What it does: Locates the closest CitiBike station to you, generates biking routes to other stations, and even suggests places to dine, shop, and sightsee near those stations.
Why you need it in your life: A bright blue bike is the hippest way to get around the city, and this app will help you get to Point B as directly as possible so you don’t incur any of those nasty overtime fees. Cool as a cucumber.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: citibikenyc.com/get-the-app

ParkMe

What it does: Takes data from ticket machines in all the parking lots in your general vicinity and spits back the number of available spots in each, along with rates and suggestions for the best place to park based on cost and distance from your destination; you can book a spot right on your phone before arriving to ensure that the lot doesn’t fill up while you’re sitting in Midtown traffic. The app also generates forecasts for the best places to find street parking in the city at a given time.
Why you need it in your life: What’s the worst part of living in NYC? If you answered “Ebola,” then take off the tin foil hat—the correct answer is “parking.” ParkMe eases that epic hassle just a little.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: parkme.com


Dating

OkCupid

What it does: Connects you to every eligible bachelor and bachelorette in New York City and the rest of the known universe. No, seriously; everyone you know is on it; once they reboot Sex In The City (you know it’s coming), the entire show will just be people going on OKCupid dates.
Why you need it in your life: What, you still think you’re going to meet someone at a bar? Get online and ignite that big city romance you’ve always dreamed of already!
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: okcupid.com

Tinder

What it does: Lets you swipe, swipe, swipe away until you’ve exhausted every coitus candidate in the city (conceivably, anyway). Also provides endless fodder for New York Times thinkpieces on “hookup culture.”
Why you need it in your life: NYC is DTF. Don’t get left behind.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: gotinder.com

Scruff

What it does: Unlike Grindr, Scruff is for more than just hooking up. Its more extensive profile-building features allow gay guys communicate for just about any purpose, from one-night stands to networking.
Why you need it in your life: Seeing the same old fellas at the same old Village bars can get fatiguing—expand those horizons.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Windows Phone
Get the app: scruff.com

Wyldfire

What it does: This new app puts the power in women’s hands: Only men can join the network once they get invited by one of their female friends, who are each given 10 invites apiece. And only dudes you approve can contact you and view your profile.
Why you need it in your life: Unlike, say, OkCupid, Wyldfire goes above and beyond to weed out the creeps. And the app is LGBT-friendly: Any woman can join and set her preferences to women. Ditto gay guys who get the green light from a lady pal.
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Get the app: wyldfireapp.com

CitySocializer

What it does: Think of CitySocializer as a singles mixer crossed with MeetUp. Powered through Facebook, it strives for group dating at its best, hosting events daily and even allowing you to create your own. Initially launched in the U.K.—it debuted stateside in September—CitySocializer works by tagging your profile with your likes and the neighborhoods you visit.
Why you need it in your life: Custom events make this app the closest you can get to artisanal dating (think: an afternoon at the Dumbo Arts Festival or a Lower East Side food crawl).
Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: citysocializer.com/new-york/meet-people

Glimpse

What it does: If you’re the person on Tinder who directs viewers to your Instagram, this is the app for you. Now in its second iteration, Glimpse uses your Instagram photos’ metadata (like geolocation and hashtags) to connect you with users who have similar interests. Wait, what the what? How does this work? Basically, if you’re, say, way into food porn, you’re shown nearby people who also take too many snaps of that to-die-for dinner. You can check out their photo feeds and message them in the hopes of, you know, meeting in the flesh.
Why you need it in your life: Unlike Tinder, it awesomely allows you to go back and change your mind if you reject someone initially.
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: itsglimpse.com

Distinc.tt

What it does: There’s no shortage of apps for gay men looking to get some on the fly (SCRUFF. Grindr. Recon…). But what if you’re hoping for something long-term? Distinc.tt caters to LGBTers (although you can join if you’re straight) looking for relationships, not hookups, tipping subscribers off to community events where they can mingle.
Why you need it in your life: The social network allows you to browse nearby singles who you can message—and you can even get groups together for trips to the museum.
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: distinc.tt

JSwipe

What it does: Just looking for a nice Jewish boy or girl? JSwipe is Tinder crossed with JDate, and it’s quickly gaining steam, with 50 million swipes and 2.5 million messages exchanged. Chosen users are given an 18-day countdown to make an interaction with each match, after which your phone will announce “mazel tov!”
Why you need it in your life: For the quirk factor. A swipe right leads to a green smiling Star of David; a swipe left a red-star frowny face. You can also let your matches know if you’re kosher, conservative, reform, orthodox or “just Jewish.”
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: jswipeapp.com

How About We

What it does: For those tired of the usual drab first date, How About We connects singles who are more interested in creative outings. If you use the app’s “speed dating” option, like Tinder, you see a person's full-size picture, age and location, but you also get to see their idea for a date before you swipe left or right. The dates vary, like the extravagant “go to the opera,” fun “take an improv class together” or traditional “grab a beer in the West Village.” To receive messages and view popular dates, you have to pay to play.    
Why you need it in your life: If your first date is an adventure, you’re not likely to get hung up on the same old, boring first-date banter.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: howaboutwe.com/about

Match

What it does: The classic dating site, Match.com has been pairing couples since the 1990s, and some people swear by it. The app matches you with others based on key words from your profile, such as your listed interests. Nonpaying users can browse and “wink,” but you have to pay for a subscription to get chatting. Though if you don’t find a match in your first six months, you can get another six months free.
Why you need it in your life: Because it can be pricey to receive messages (a six-month subscription is $24 per month), the website tends to appeal to people more seriously looking.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: match.com

Dapper

What it does: The newest app on this list—it launched November 16—hopes to make online dating a better experience for women. Men signing up agree to a “gentleman pledge”: They will not push for sex on a first date and “know how to dance, at least a little bit.” Users are given a list of eligible singles to choose from that match with one's schedule. There is no chat or messaging feature, so Dapper sets up the first meeting for you. It further ensures the man is serious by having the women pay $9 per date and the man $19. Luckily, the first drink at the bar Dapper sends you to is often free. After the date, the ladies are sent a questionnaire to see if the men behaved in anyway untoward. If the guy gets three unsavory reports, he’s out.
Why you need it in your life: If you’re tired of all the booty calls and “sup?" messages filling your inbox, this sounds like this is the more refined way to go. 
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: joindapper.com

Coffee Meets Bagel

What it does: Created by three sisters, this dating service is made for New Yorkers looking to find love without having to sacrifice their privacy or personal information. Each day at noon, perhaps around the time of a coffee or bagel break at the office, a user will receive a match with a picture and a brief profile, but the person’s name is withheld. You choose whether to accept the match or pass. If you pass, you never have to contact the person, but if you’re both interested, then you start messaging on a temporary number. If you like them, you can give them your real digits after.
Why you need it in your life: Who has time to wade through the masses of people who are completely wrong for you?
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: coffeemeetsbagel.com

Zoosk

What it does: If you can get past the stupid name, you’ll be joining one of the biggest international dating sites in the world. Last year, it made more than $100 million. Zoosk runs as a social-networking dating app, with a person’s stats (age, physical attributes, religion) under their picture along with their interests. Considering the site includes an option to spend real money to send “gifts” of little graphics of chocolate-covered strawberries and martini glasses, it should come as no surprise that this service tends to appeal to a younger demographic.
Why you need it in your life: Zoosk promotes itself as a great site to get your flirt on, if you’re exactly the relationship type.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: zoosk.com

Badoo

What it does: This English import works best for those interested in chatting before meeting. Badoo likes to think of itself as a networking site with a dating focus. Because of its popularity in other countries, expect to find a lot of international profiles. Fair warning: Some of these may be phishing scams.
Why you need it in your life: Badoo's casual feel can take some of the stress out of the experience, and because you can search in other cities, you can meet your vacation fling before boarding the plane.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: badoo.com

Plenty of Fish

What it does: Like Zoosk, Plenty of Fish might not get talked about as much here in New York, but globally, it’s sitting on top. Probably its greatest feature, like OkCupid, is that it’s absolutely free and doesn't push too hard for you to upgrade to a paid account. If you do decide to upgrade, it has perks like seeing if someone read your messages or seeing who looked at your profile. Your account also allows for several settings of commitment level and personality type you’re looking for.
Why you need it in your life: We’re not going to lie: This site has a large quantity of selfie pics of men without shirts on and women with duck faces. But if that’s not your thing, it also has its share of gems. 
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Get the app: pof.com


Taking care of business

Sit Or Squat (Lifehacks)

What it does: An interactive map of public restrooms near wherever you happen to be (ie in the middle of the sidewalk trying desperately to hold it in). Most toilets are helpfully rated “sit” or “squat” by other users; some even come with pictures.
Why you need it in your life: When you’re out in public and it comes time to answer nature’s call, there’s nothing worse than bursting into the facilities at the pizza joint on the corner and finding it looking like GG Allin had just passed through. Never go in blind again.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: sitorsquat.com

NYC Condom Finder

What it does: A locator for every establishment in the city that carries the free “NYC” brand condoms that the city health department introduced in 2007.
Why you need it in your life: This app could mean the difference between getting some red-hot (and safe!) action and spending the night cold and alone. Again.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: findnyccondoms.com

FlyCleaners

What it does: Replaces getting your mom to come over as the only means of getting your laundry done more than once a month. Use the app to order a pickup for your washing or dry cleaning anytime between 6 am and midnight and someone from FlyCleaners will come pick it up. You'll get a notification once the load is done so that you can schedule a delivery (which, along with pick up, is free for loads of $15 or more).
Why you need it in your life: Odds are your local laundromat is the least hip place in your neighborhood to hang out. Let someone else venture in there for you while you spend your time on more productive pastimes.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: flycleaners.com


Shopping

PS Dept

What it does: Simply leave a message on the app describing a piece of clothing or accessory that you’re looking for and employees at dozens of the city’s most fabulous fashion outlets, including Stella McCartney, Barney’s, and Bergdorf Goodman, will send you pictures of what they’ve got in stock. If whatever they show you is to your liking, you can buy it straight from your phone.
Why you need it in your life: Combines the otherwise unattainable glamour of having your own team of personal shoppers with the ease of sending a text message.
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: psdept.com

ShopDrop

What it does: Sends you instant alerts whenever you’re close to a store that’s holding a can’t-miss sample sale, along with a full map of ongoing sample sales in the city.
Why you need it in your life: Seems like you never hear about the best samples sales until they’ve quickly come and passed. With ShopDrop, you’ll be clued in before anyone else.
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: shopdropapp.com

ASAP54

What it does: You know when you’re walking down the street and you pass by a fabulous fashionista and think, “I simply must have that coat!” Now you can have it without that whole awkward “Where did you get that?” ritual with ASAP54—which has been dubbed “the Shazam of shopping”. Take a picture of the desirable item on your phone and ASAP54 will tell you where you can find it (or something similar).
Why you need it in your life: It’s an extensive fashion database with the added lurid thrill of covertly snapping photos of random people on the street (or you could ask permission, but where’s the fun in that?).
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: asap54.com/#!/


Parks & rec

Central Park App

What it does: Condenses those famous 843 acres of green space in the middle of Manhattan down to the size of your phone. Comes complete with a map (including a GPS locator), event listings, and audio guides to over 40 of the park’s most popular attractions narrated by celebrities and NYC luminaries ranging from Michael Bloomberg to Yoko Ono.
Why you need it in your life: Even for lifelong New Yorkers who have been there, done that, it’s worth really savoring a few hours in Central Park every once in a while.
Works with: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: centralparknyc.org/tours

Avoid Humans

What it does: Provides assessments of the crowd level at restaurants, bars, parks, and more in your area based on data gathered from Instagram and Foursquare.
Why you need it in your life: There are a few places in NYC that aren’t constantly packed to the gills, you know. With Avoid Humans, they’re easier to find.
Works with: All smartphones, online
Get the app: avoidhumans.com

Dog Park Finder

What it does: Lots of info on the best places to take your furry canine friend to get a little exercise. The nationwide dog park database features locations, user ratings reviews, photos, and plenty more details, including hours, fees, and amenities.
Why you need it in your life: City dogs yearn to roam free like their country brethren, but urban dog parks can be pretty hit or miss. Dog Park Finder will help you avoid the jankier ones.
Works with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Get the app: doggoes.com/iphone/dog-park-finder-plus



Users say

4 comments
Tamarah R
Tamarah R

Kick Map and Hop Stop really should be on the list.

Alex S
Alex S

I'd definitely throw in Cover and maybe Resy on the list. Shout is totally useless.

Tig B
Tig B

Number 1 on the list is the real thing!! I'm totally hooked on CUPS app. If you are a Ney Yorker, and drink coffee (ie. human), you better run to get your CUPS plan!

Changed my life, seriously.

www.cupsapp.com/download from any mobile device. Or just search for CUPS app on your app store.

Ignatius M
Ignatius M

>>>A bright blue bike is the hippest way to get around the city,>>>

There is no universe where riding a bicycle with the logo of a giant bank is "hip."