10 Apps Every 'Burgher Should Download Right Now

The essential smart phone collection for the Steel City enthusiast.

If you’re already an iPhone vet, our October 2011 piece on two hot new ‘Burgh-bred apps, PNC’s Mobile Deposit technology and D.I.Y. Pop from the Warhol Museum, may have helped you foster your hometown tech collection. But maybe you’re new to the world of smartphones. Maybe you haven’t gotten much further than Twitter and Angry Birds. Or maybe you just haven’t made your iPad go local yet. In any case, you might need some background.

Here, then, are the 10 apps that every Pittsburgher should have their thumbs trained on at all times. All are available in the iTunes App Store, and most have Android equivalents. You already use your phone to get some worldwide “face time”; it’s time to start using it to figure out what’s just around the corner.

Stuff To Do (and Drink)

The ubiquitous what’s-around app has a wide variety of features designed to get you out of the house. Search for bars, restaurants and more by a wide variety of factors, or – in the app’s most useful function – check out a map to see what’s nearby. The user reviews will help you distinguish a hole from a haven, and you can check in to let others know where you’ve been. A must-have.

Cocktail Compass Pittsburgh
If you’re less discriminate about where you drink – and particularly if you just want cheap booze – this one’s for you. A real-time list of nearby happy hours tells you what the specials are and how much time is left. Flick it on after you leave work and see a laundry list of cheap bottles and bar grub.

This is the ultimate app for Steel City beer lovers. Sort of a laser-focused version of Yelp, Beerby (rhymes with “nearby”) allows you to search for bars by the beer you’d like. Craving a Full Pint Brewing White Lightning, for example? Beerby will direct you to the nearest tap pouring it. Half the fun is logging your every brew – a great way to figure out what you still have to try and remember the particular IPAs and Imperial Stouts that truly impressed. Beerby was a co-winner in our 2011 Best of the ‘Burgh Readers Poll for Best App, so it is most definitely ‘Burgh approved.

Grab a Bite to Eat

The weight of two many restaurant loyalty cards in your wallet getting you down? LoyalTree is the punch-card of the future. Sign up for rewards at a variety of restaurants (like the Square Cafe, NOLA, and Crazy Mocha) and scan a QR code when you drop by; the app keeps track of your purchases, and lets you know when you’ve got a free item coming your way. You can show your server your phone to redeem. As LoyalTree continues to add business and restaurants, this one will become more and more necessary for the local that loves free stuff. Which, of course, is all of us.

Primanti Bros.
Do you really need the Primanti’s app? No, of course not. Should you get it anyway, as a point of civic pride? Absolutely. Browse menus, find your way to the nearest restaurant and get special offers on your phone. More than that, keep it on your front page so that anyone who ever comes into contact with your phone knows where you’re from.

Keep Tabs on the Black and Gold

ESPN ScoreCenter
There are a million apps that will help you follow the Pirates, Pens and Steelers, but this is the best for keeping up on games you can’t watch. Set the alerts to give you a buzz with every scoring play in every game, or just a periodic update at the end of the quarter/period/inning. Within the app itself, browse scores around the league, check the standings and get news in a familiar ESPN scroll. You can be a hundred miles from the nearest television and still know the moment Mendenhall finds the end zone.

Pittsburgh Penguins Mobile
All the Pens info you need and more is at your fingertips 24/7 with this app from YinzCam. What sets PPM apart from imitators is the ability to tap into Consol Energy Center Wi-Fi for a staggering array of content. If you’re at the game, you can pull up instant replays from a multitude of angles, keep an eye on the bench, track Sid or Geno, and more. It transforms the live experience. Just don’t get too addicted – you’ll want to actually look up from your phone at some point during the game.

Getting There

As much as I’d like to rely on GPS units and Google Maps for their assessments of local traffic, every ‘Burgher knows that things are much more complicated than simply how-many-cars-are-where. With this app ($2.99), you can link directly into PennDOT cameras all over town and actually see what’s going on along your route. And if you’re bored, you can always play the ‘Burgh equivalent of searching for Bigfoot – trying to catch the Squirrel Hill Tunnel at a moment without a jam on the inbound side!

Spent one too many morning inching towards a downtown garage, praying that the “Full – Leases Only” sign isn’t out yet? Save the stress and check before you even leave the house. ParkPGH, the other co-winner of our Best App Readers Poll vote, gives real-time running counts of how many spaces are left at the garages surrounding the Cultural District. It doesn’t mean that you won’t end up parking in the Strip, but hey – at least you can plan ahead.

And One for Mom & Dad

A must-have for parents. The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC App is your go-to if the little one isn’t feeling well, allowing you to select symptoms from a list and advising on whether or not it’s time to see a doctor. If the answer is yes, the App will help you find a local doc or direct you to the nearest Emergency Room. Intuitive, easy, and endlessly useful, particularly for hypochondriacs like myself.

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