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NOLA Apps You Need

The best smartphone apps to broaden your New Orleans experience. And if you thought we meant appetizers, we’ve got those too… just keep scrolling.

Smartphones are extensions of ourselves. Some people fully embrace this while others prefer the olden days before the technology takeover. However, whether or not you are secretly afraid that computers will inherit the earth, you’ve got to appreciate some of our smartphones’ finer aspects, including apps, which make our lives a little bit easier.

Wondering when and where to find the next bus or streetcar? Searching for a tour guide? Or perhaps you’ve been separated from your friends at a crowded festival, bar, or music club. Is it going to rain? Is that fancy building historically significant? Hey, is that Professor Longhair’s house? In nearly any situation in New Orleans, there’s an app for dat:

PRC Jazz Houses: Where They Lived App
PRC Jazz Houses: Where They Lived App

Jazz Houses: Where They Lived

Free

The “Jazz Houses: Where They Lived” app allows users to explore the history and tradition of New Orleans jazz musicians through an exploration of the homes in which these people lived. The app provides options to explore by artist, neighborhood, or – true to its preservation roots – significant houses that are in jeopardy of vanishing forever. Each category has a map with pins of sites notable to jazz history, and many artists’ pages feature a music clip. It is these music clips, paired with mostly black-and-white photographs of jazz musicians, their homes, and other related images and maps, that enliven the history of New Orleans jazz. So go ahead, treat yourself to some timeless musical history.

The best way to download this app is by texting “Jazz” to 99000 or by visiting bit.ly/jazzhouses.

Airpnp

Free for iOS

Eligible bathrooms on AirPnP.
Eligible bathrooms on Airpnp.

We’ve all been there: out, about, when suddenly it hits us. Where is the bathroom? Airpnp is a mobile app that helps users find nearby bathrooms. Not surprisingly, this app’s founders hail from New Orleans where this is an ever-present issue – especially during Mardi Gras. The app features a map with pins on various bathrooms with prices, if applicable. After you go, you can even rate your experience. What’s more is that the app isn’t just for New Orleans. It can help you locate a latrine when in need in cities across the globe. The days of holding it (or worse) are over.

Dark Sky

$3.99 for iOS

If you have ever been caught in a sudden New Orleans rainstorm, perhaps taking shelter under an overhang in the French Quarter or refuge in a bar, this app is about to change the way you interact with the weather. Dark Sky can tell you the forecast for your exact location literally down to the minute. It can advise you that rain is coming in, say, 12 minutes, as well as predicting weather within the coming hours or days. Users can also monitor other helpful weather conditions like wind speed and humidity levels for their exact location. Especially in New Orleans, where it can be pouring rain in one neighborhood but sunny in another, Dark Sky is your best bet to navigate the weather.

Glympse

Free for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone

For those times where you find yourself surrounded by a crowd of people you don’t know wearing funny clothes, especially at major events like Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest (or even on an average night out), Glympse can be your lifeline. The app uses GPS to help you locate your friends, and help them locate you. This is also a great app to use if you are waiting for a friend at a restaurant or another situation where you want to know the ETA of someone you are expecting. Yes, your GPS location will be floating around on the interwebs, but with Glympse, you only share it with those you trust for a predetermined length of time. Another bonus to the app is that you can share your location with someone who doesn’t even have the app.

GoNOLA Mobile Site

Free 

To begin, yes, we’re a little biased. Glad we got that off of our chests.

Though not technically an app, GoNOLA’s mobile site is a must-have for both locals and tourists. Visit gonola.com on your mobile phone to find a website fully optimized for mobile devices. Additionally, it uses responsive design so no matter the size of your phone, computer, or tablet, the website will alter its dimensions for a perfect fit. The website features easy to use sections for “Eat & Drink,” “See & Do,” “Music,” and “Coming Up,” which directs users to the most current articles on what is going on in New Orleans. Stay in the know by bookmarking the mobile site on your device.

New Orleans Historical

Free for iOS and Android

The New Orleans Historical app contains a wealth of knowledge about local history, places, and more. You can do a quick search for particular items that tickle your fancy, such as “Desire streetcar,” or you can follow one of the app’s mobile tours: the “New Orleans Food History” tour provides a background on lesser known tidbits of local culture ranging from pralines and street food vendors to the po-boy; and the “Audubon Park: 1884 Cotton Centennial Exposition” tour highlights the 1884 World’s Fair which was held at what is today Audubon Park. One of the app’s most useful components is the map that displays pins of places of historical interest which can be used if you find yourself somewhere in town wanting to know about a particular place.

WDSU Transit Tracker provides real-time GPS data to help catch streetcars and buses.
WDSU Transit Tracker provides real-time GPS data to help catch streetcars and buses.

Transit Tracker by WDSU

Free

Though a little patience is a requirement when taking the bus or streetcar in New Orleans, it is worth leaving the car behind to spend time looking out the window. Transit Tracker by WDSU is, to me, the most straightforward local transit app to use, though there are several others out there as well. It was designed using the Regional Transit Authority’s own real-time GPS data, something essential to a seamless transit experience, and it updates every 30 seconds. To track your desired bus or streetcar, all you need to do is select the “Routes” button at the bottom of the screen and scroll through to select your line. Then hit “Track,” and the map will immediately show where your ride is and the direction it is heading. 

WWL Mardi Gras Parade Tracker

Free for iOS and Android

If you don’t use the WWL Mardi Gras Parade Tracker during Mardi Gras, your life is about to get a whole lot better. The app tracks more than 50 of Carnival season’s biggest and best parades from Krewe du Vieux to Rex on Mardi Gras day. It also provides parade schedules, routes, and real-time GPS locations for the parades to help you plan your season. A quick link to @mardigrasparadetrack also helps users stay informed. How many days until Twelfth Night now?

Actual Apps (as in Appetizers)

Maybe you read the headline and came for the food only to find apps of the technological variety. Or maybe all this tech talk has you hungry, which would be a little weird but not unheard of. Here, a few of our favorite edible apps.

Cafe Adelaide's Shrimp & Tasso Corndogs. Photo credit: Richard Nowitz
Cafe Adelaide’s Shrimp & Tasso Corndogs. Photo credit: Richard Nowitz

Shrimp & Tasso “Corndogs” 

What: Wild white shrimp dipped in Tasso corndog batter with 5 pepper jelly, pickled okra & Crystal hot sauce

Where:  Cafe Adelaide

How much: $8.50

"Creole Nachos" photo courtesy of Trenasse
“Creole Nachos” photo courtesy of Trenasse

Creole Nachos

What: Braised pork belly, cracklins, red bean puree, pepper jack cheese, pickled okra & corn chow-chow

Where: Trenasse

How much: $13

Duck poppers at Borgne. (Photo courtesy Graham Blackall)
Duck poppers at Borgne. (Photo courtesy Graham Blackall)

Duck Poppers

WhatJalapeño, sliver of duck, and cream cheese, wrapped up in bacon

Where: Borgne

How much: $12

Bonus: Borgne hosts a daily happy hour from 3 – 6 p.m. where duck poppers occasionally make a guest appearance for $5.

Capdeville's Fried Red Beans & Rice
Capdeville’s Fried Red Beans & Rice. Photo courtesy of Capdeville Facebook.

Fried Red Beans & Rice

What: Fried balls of New Orleans red beans and rice with green onion aioli and a hot sauce reduction

Where: Capdeville

How much: $5

Bonus: Save $1 on this NOLA-style arancini during Capdeville’s happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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