The market for travel and destination apps is huge and it may be difficult to sort through the underperformers to get to the truly great apps. Here are 5 iOS apps that we think are quite useful for exploring and traversing Beijing. We should point out that we are iPhone (iOS) users and can only recommend the apps that we know and use.
Taxi-Book Beijing. This is one of the best apps I’ve seen for people traveling to Beijing and Beijingers alike. The app is an extensive directory of sights, healthcare facilities, government buildings, recreational venues and nightlife hotspots. One of the best features is the taxi card. Each directory listing has the option of displaying a taxi card that shows the location’s address in Chinese and is accompanied by audio. An app this complete carried a lofty price of $6.99 but can replace many of those other apps you must constantly switch between. Price: $6.99
rGuide Beijing Metro. This app is a quick reference for Beijing subway commuters. The subway map comes with features such as selecting your beginning location and final destination, showing the best route and estimating your time of travel. The app is always updated to reflect the constantly changing Beijing subway map. This is a free app that can come in handy when navigating the Beijing subway system. Price: free
CityWeekend Beijing. CityWeekend is an English magazine in Beijing. The app is a great reference when trying to find restaurants and bars around the city. The directory also has customer reviews, maps and other helpful tidbits for you to make a quick, educated decision on where to eat. Price: free
WayGo. This is a newer app for me but one that has filled a void in my dining experience. This app uses the camera on your phone and allows you to center Chinese menu items in the viewfinder for an instant translation. While this app hasn’t been perfect it has greatly expanded my Chinese dining options. (must use type font not hand-written). Price: free
Google Maps. As much as I would like to only include actual Beijing-related apps on this list, Google Maps has proven to be a must have when navigating the city. The Google Maps app is new and will provide similar functions to those of the actual website. You can input English or Chinese characters/pinyin. Google Maps navigation seems to be quite accurate and the step-by-step directions are excellent to have when looking for a new destination. Price: free