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Useful Local Smart Phone Apps

Mobile applications created for local businesses and by entrepreneurial Evanstonians.

1. Passport to Downtown Evanston

Price: Free

Availability: Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Potential Users: Coupon cutters, downtown Evanston frequenters, Northwestern students, tourists

Ever been walking through downtown Evanston, had a craving for pizza and wondered where you could find the nearest slice? Or desperately wanted an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day but wanted a discount in price? The Passport to Downtown Evanston app aims to solve these minor yet frequent problems by allowing people strolling the city’s downtown area to find, sort and use digital coupons for nearby businesses. Customers redeem offers by using their smart phone cameras to scan on-location QR code matrix barcodes, which sit on display near store cash registers. The app also acts as a directory, allowing users to search for downtown businesses alphabetically, by category or by proximity.

Passport to Downtown Evanston as a class project for their NUVention Web Course, and the group launched the app in May 2011. , the mobile application has turned into a fulltime business for the students who remained onboard, and the business has launched new apps to cover areas in Rogers Park, Oak Park, Naperville and Lake Forest.

2. S.P.A.C.E. (The Society for the Preservation of Arts and Culture in Evanston)

Price: Free

Availability: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Potential Users: Fans of live music, local musicians, S.P.A.C.E. supporters

S.P.A.C.E. is a small music venue advertised as having been “created by musicians for musicians”, which shares a building with Evanston’s Union Pizzeria at 1245 Chicago Ave. They are also seemingly the first and only business in Evanston to have their very own smart phone app. The S.P.A.C.E. app provides users with updated concert schedules, descriptions of upcoming acts, venue and performance photos, and even live show recordings. But, perhaps most importantly, the app allows on-the-go users to buy tickets for shows moments after they are announced.

“We have an app because we are appealing to people who are looking to a live music options,” said S.P.A.C.E. general manager Jake Samuels, “and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to find out about the artists playing and hopefully buy tickets.”

Samuels said the S.P.A.C.E. will make its ways to the Android platform in the near future.

3. 30Second Mom

Price: Free

Availability: Android

Potential Users: On-the-go moms, on-the-go dads, babysitters, first-time parents

Moms have a lot on their hands. Even the most experienced mothers may still get frazzled when trying to balance time between raising children and dealing with all the other challenges life presents. The 30Second Mom app attempts to aid these women by providing busy, time-strapped moms with quick, easy-to-read tips on how to parent, balance their workload and remain sane.

Tips are submitted by volunteer contributors and tagged into one of 11 categories, some of which include kids, food, health, technology, beauty and relationships. Users personalize the content they receive by following specific contributors, subscribing to categories or both.

Though this app is not for Evanston or North Shore use only, 30Second Mom was created and founded by Elisa All, a lifetime Evanston resident and Evanston Township High School alumnus. All said that the type of diversity found in Evanston can be seen in the application, as she reached out to women with a wide range of backgrounds to contribute tips.

“Having grown up here, having gone to ETHS, diversity is hugely important to me,” All said. “I really grew up respecting other people’s perspectives and wanting to learn from other people’s cultural experiences…That is reflected in the app.”

The app is only part of a larger 30Second Mom brand that currently includes a website. The app and website have 47 contributors and that number is steadily growing. Though some men use 30Second Mom for parenting tips, none contribute advice as of yet. But All said that might change if she decides to launch 30Second Dad sometime in the future.

4. iNorthshore

Price: $2.99

Availability: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Potential Users: North Shore residents, North Shore tourists, shoppers, foodies

No matter where you are on Chicago’s North Shore, this app will help you find almost any store, from the nearest pharmacy to the closest beauty salon. iNorthshore uses geolocation to track the whereabouts of users and then can recommend nearby establishments based on proximity or user reviews. The app breaks down the 4,350 stores in its database by business type, including bakery, bank, electronics store, bar, gas station, clothing store, department store, fast food restaurant, health club, pharmacy, mall and ice cream shop.

Planning a whole day in the area? iNorthshore can assist in giving you directions with a trip planner function. And if you want to invite a friend along, you can text addresses and other messages from inside the application.

5. A few more apps

Travel: Chicago Transit Tracker (Android), Transit Tracks Chicago (Android), iTrans Chicago CTA (iPhone), Track My CTA Train (iPhone), Chicago Traffic Tracker (Android & iPhone), MultiCam Chicago (iPhone)

Towing: North Shore Towing (Android), Chicago Roadside and Towing (Android), Dude Where’s My Car: Chicago Towed Car Finder (iPhone)

Local Sports: Northwestern University (Android & iPhone), Northwestern Athletics (Android & iPhone)

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