(I’ve changed the title to include men because several of them whined that they should be included, but I didn’t change any of the wording of the post … what’s good enough for the goose…)
It seems like anytime anything woman specific is mentioned in tech is has to do with shopping, children, or fear for our safety/jobs/aspirations in a man’s world… if you’re looking for that kind of post, mosey along, these are just 5 apps I’ve found are handy when traveling alone or attending big events.
1. Plancast – (iPhone)
Think of Plancast as a crowdsourced calendar. It lets you see which parties, places, and panels your friends are planning on attending. You can sort by day, friend, city, or keyword to find out about a plethora of events to attend. TIP: Most of SXSW parties require an RSVP so look for the link to the party itself, you’ll actually need to RSVP if you’re attending anything SXSW interactive, the nerds are oblivious to the pretty women go to the front of the line custom. If you want to actually get out of the hallways and into any events or panels, download the app to keep track of what you’ve planned on doing, like attending my presentations on Contextual Revolution or Using Online Video for Business. (SXSW does have an official iPhone app, but it doesn’t list the hundreds of other non official events that happen during the festival, which is why I didn’t suggest it.)
2. TextPlus – (iPhone, Android, SMS)
Most of my time at SXSW last year was spent texting friend after friend after friend in a round robin of “where are yous?” and “what are you doings?” and “here’s where everyone else is/is doing.” Text Plus has made this kind of coordination so much easier with their group text feature. You can add all of your SXSW crew to one group, and everyone can talk to everyone at the same time via text message. So much easier to organize a group outing if you can talk to everyone at once.
3. Bluelight – (iPhone)
This little app is a fantastic alternative to informing your over-concerned roommates of your every move. It’s a very discreet way to avoid the obligatory “call me when you get there” request. The beauty of this app is that it doesn’t send out your APB unless you don’t get to where you’re going. You set an alert for the amount of time you think it will take you to arrive at your destination, and disable the alert when you get there. If you don’t disable the alert or (heaven forbid) something happens to you on your way, your phone will send a text message and email with your (phone’s) last known GPS location to whomever you’ve designated to receive it, and next steps can be taken. I’ve found this is an excellent app for running or hiking alone in a new city, as I am the master of the “I’m lost, please come find me” texts.
4. Whrrl – (iPhone, Android, Blackberry)
Whrrl is a photo collaboration location based app that has real world rewards when you check into places (AKA you can win real stuff, not just badges) and it has Austin saturated. It also has three other features I love:
Societies – (I’m a member of the Yo Quiero Mexican Society and can use other society members’ recommendations to find the best Mexican food no matter where in the world I am.)
What’s nearby – I don’t know if they meant it to be used this way, but I constantly use Whrrl’s GPS to see what other venues are nearby – excellent for finding the closest coffee shop the morning after a long night out.
Privacy – Whrrl has four privacy settings (public, friends, trusted friends, private) so if you want to let just your bestys know where you are and that your riding a mechanical bull topless, without sounding the cattle call, Whrrl’s got you covered.
5. Hollaback – (iPhone, Android)
Austin gets a little crazy during SXSW, people are out on the streets at all hours getting out of control. The hollaback app is an awesome app that lets you report street harassment as it happens. If someone sexually harasses you on the street, take a pic of them, upload it to the hollaback blog via the app and everyone will know what a creep that person was being. I like to think of it as a forever on the web fuck you to bad manners. Hollaback also maps out exactly where you reported getting harassed and uses the data to pinpoint problem areas in the city to local authorities.
6. Hashable beta – (iPhone)
I didn’t include them originally because I’m a big fan of ye’ ole’ fashioned writing on business card (or my arm) but the swift and overwhelming support of women all over twitter has it as the write in favorite. Hashable: A little app that helps you to keep track of the folks you meet, make introductions, and exchange contact information on the go by simply adding a hashtag to whichever of your contact lists you want to add them to such as: #justmet. You can choose to publish these tags to twitter or keep them private, and bonus – Hashable already pulls info from your phone’s address book, so introductions just got a whole lot easier. If you go to the weblink you have to wait for a beta invite however, downloading from the app store directly and you can use it immediately.
You should know that I consult for both the parent companies of Whrrl and Bluelight and am on the board of iHollaback.org. None of them asked me to write about them or paid me to post, I just like what they do, which is why I agreed to work with them in the first place.
Know of some great apps to use at SXSW or other big conferences? Leave your suggestions in the comments and I’ll add em’ to the list.