The 17 Essential Apps for Life in NYC

Published On 05/07/2015 Published On 05/07/2015

There are 2.5 million apps in the Android and Apple app stores combined. Even if you think you have every essential NYC app you could possibly need, uh, you don't. But now you will, because here they are: the 17 essential NYC apps.

Flickr/Chris Ford (Edited)

Exit Strategy

Full version only on iPhone, lite version for Android
What it does: Routes subway rides and provides the optimal place to stand based on your destination
Some subway purists may bristle at the idea of insider straphandler secrets being made widely available rather than earned. And they’re probably right, but oh well: this app not only routes your subway ride, but it also tells you the best place in the subway car to stand so you can shave time off your exit.


What it does: Spot-on subway directions
Based on one of the first subway direction sites, the mobile app incarnation also gets the job done. It factors in walking time and provides directions as well as alerting you when there are train schedule interruptions, which apparently, is always.

Flickr/Phil Guest


Android, iPhone
What it does: Locates nearby metered street and garage parking spots
You probably don't own a car, nor do you desire to do so unless your gains in wealth exceed your ability to spend said wealth on brunch. But, if on the weekend you rent a car for your summer share with 25 of your least annoying acquaintances, chances are you will search for free street parking for a frustrating amount of time and realize you are going to have to spring for a spot. This makes that part infinitely easier.

Flickr/Dave Morris (Edited)


Android, iPhone
What it does: You can set up a happy hour at any time with participating bars and with your friends
Happy started with a limited launch (available in East Village, Lower East Side, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, and Fort Greene), but you’re probably drinking in one of those neighborhoods anyway, and now you can do it more cheaply.


Android, iPhone
What it does: Alcohol delivery service
The service brings you booze at the push of a button. Stacks of liquor delivered to your door instead of carried by you on the L is a win for not only you, but society.



What it does: Gives you incredible bar and restaurant recommendations based on location
You're reading this, so it's a scientific fact that you love us, so why not let us guide you to the best, the hidden, the under appreciated, the flat-out delicious things you can eat and drink right next to your current location with our app?

Flickr/Tiny Banquet Committee


Android, Blackberry, iPhone
What it does: Delivers food without you having to talk to anyone
Seamless is an obvious one, but if you don’t have it, you really should. Even among the bevy of new ways to get food delivered to your face, this is the standard bearer for a Sunday evening spent binge-watching Netflix and housing gnocchi/pad Thai/wings/fries/all of the above.


Android, iPhone
What it does: Users can buy and sell reservations at sought-after restaurants, among other hard-to-find items
Passions run hot on whether selling something that is free should be encouraged, but the polarizing debate is part of what makes this an intriguing app for an opinionated population. It could be a great resource when you're in a pinch and need to dine at a hard-to-land spot, but you didn’t have time to make the rezzies on your own.

Flickr/Jonathan McIntosh (Edited)


Android, iPhone
What it does: Pick a coffee drinking plan -- from 10 cups per month to unlimited -- and you have easy access to independent coffee shops all over the city
New Yorkers like to exercise their independence. But, they also enjoy being 98% dependent on a naturally occurring stimulant to manage their mornings. This app helps with both. Just download, pick your favorite shop, pick your drink, then show your phone to the cashier, receive your drink, and be on your way. It's all prepaid, so you can waste less time paying and more time caffeine-ing.

NYC WiFi + Coffee

What it does: Finds you a place to get coffee with access to the Internet
In a city filled with freelancers and freelancers who can't afford their own broadband, being able to find a place where you can perk up your brain and then hustle for your next gig fuels the city’s creative ecosystem. You also need to check Instagram, lots and lots of Instagram.

Flickr/the camera is a toy. (Edited)

Downtown NY

Android, iPhone
What it does: Allows users to search for events, both free and paid, in the city
This app helps feed the need to be aware of all happenings at all times. You can look up events, walking tours, and other ways to spend your free time, other than in dive bars. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)


Android, iPhone
What it does: Tells you what health rating a restaurant has received and what that letter really means
You may not want to know what you are actually eating, but for the sake of your survival and your curiosity you should look anyway.

Central Park

iPhone, Android
What it does: Puts NYC’s iconic park in your phone (not literally)
Although, unfortunately, it won’t protect you from plainclothes police ticketing you for your box of Franzia, the app will guide you to more than 200 things to see in the most massive Manhattan public space there is, plus keep you up to date on the schedule of free shows this summer.


Android, iPhone
What it does: Lets you know what government services are available and allows you to make requests
You knew you could call 311, but you didn’t know it had an app -- New Yorkers are responsible citizens who are not afraid to report when there are injustices in their government services. Be heard, but be heard quietly through the silence of a mobile app.


Android, iPhone
What it does: You can listen to public radio, but on your phone
Public radio is a necessary informational pit stop for well-informed/wanting-to-sound-well-informed New Yorkers. As a bonus, you can weigh in on the debate on whether vocal fry is or isn’t a thing among this generation of radio personalities.

Flickr/David Sim (Edited)

NYC Condom Finder

Android, iPhone
What it does: Tracks down free condoms in NYC
Have this on your phone and you can get your sex safety all taken care of on your way to searching for your special one and only via Tinder...


Android, iPhone
What it does: Don’t pretend you don’t know
The population density of NYC makes Tinder a high-volume meeting tool/entertaining social experiment. Even if you're off the market, someone in your crew is likely single and you're required, by law of friendships, to partake in group Tinder decisions. Swipe right with passion.

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Matthew Moll is a contributor for Thrillist. He would like an app that delivers breakfast burritos through phone screens. Follow him here.



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