When my colleague Josh Lowensohn wrote his original and well-received 10 Absurd iPhone Apps blog, I agreed with most of his picks. Yet there was one application with which I rather sheepishly had to take issue. I love maps of all kinds so I was dismayed when I found "public transit maps" in the No. 8 slot. Yes, Josh makes good arguments that transit maps are free online, and that you can plan your route before you leave the house, but I thought it sounded like a cool idea. So, during a trip to New York City last week, I packed CNET's iPhone armed with the CityTransit NYC Subway Guide by Magnetism Studios. I put it to heavy use during my stay and definitely thought it was worth the $2.99 price. Here's why.
Don't look like a tourist I know New York somewhat well, but if I need to get from 39th Avenue in Long Island City to 14th Street in Manhattan, I'll need to look at a subway map to do so. While I can plan out the route before hand, my short-term memory seems to vanish while on vacation. With the complete subway maps on my iPhone, however, I can check my route while on the train (remember that you can't get the Internet while underground), but I can do so on the sly. I can avoid being the gawking tourist, craning my neck around seated riders to read the map on the side of the car. For all they know, I'm just reading my e-mail.
You also can look at a list of all stops on each line--very useful if you get on an express train accidentally. My only suggestion is that you can't zoom in on the maps very far. And even when you can zoom in, the maps can be blurry. … Read more