There’s no arguing that smartphones have made navigating new cities a little easier, but all too often we travel to a new place only to find that the the apps we usually rely on are worthless there.
The current alternative? Download a brand-new set of apps that take up storage space and are left untouched for the rest of eternity.
Mitty. (yes, with a period) is a new travel app that sets out to fix both of those problems.
The creators of the iOS app, available in the App Store on Wednesday (and coming soon to Android), considered the services you would set out to find when you move to – or vacation in – a new city, and then picked the single best app for each service in every city.
The best part about the concept, in my opinion, is that it avoids making you download each app separately. Mitty cloud-streams the apps so that there’s more space on your phone’s screen, and one less thing you have to unpack when you’re home.
Here’s how to use Mitty – the one-stop shop for travellers to new cities:
When I first downloaded and opened the Mitty app, the home screen gave me a list of the 14 cities that are vetted and ready to explore, as well as the cities Mitty says are “coming soon.”
My initial reaction was that the interface was sleek and simple. The icon art was tasteful but fun, and the app gave you just the right amount of information without going overboard.
To sign up, by the way, you can use your Facebook account, Google, your email address, or your phone number. I chose the last.
I went in and selected New York — where I live — to see how accurate it was with service options; since the app creators are based out of the UK, I thought it would be fairly telling.
I’m not sure why it asked if New York was my hometown, but I answered “Yes,” under the assumption that this meant “as of right now” and not originally.
There were 17 services available here “with more services coming soon,” according to the company. Some cities — like Dubai — had fewer services because “service availability varies by location.”
The only app with an icon was Airbnb, which I found odd. Mitty gets a commission from the service providers every time someone uses their platform through Mitty’s app, which it says doesn’t affect the price for users, but co-founder and CEO Kaniyet Rayev said the Airbnb icon was the solution to a language issue.
“We had ‘home sharing’ instead of Airbnb,” said Rayev. “But our beta users told us that it is confusing and some of them didn’t realise that Airbnb is Home Sharing. So we decided to change this tab to Airbnb.”
I went into a few of the services I frequently use, and they were fairly spot on.
I use Yelp to find restaurants and Uber Eats for food delivery, but I know a lot of my friends in New York opt for OpenTable and Postmates. I was very happy to see CityMapper as my default Public Transportation app, though.
The “Experience” icon was the only one that opened up to more options: Local and Tourist. These seemed to be the same across the board, from what I saw: Airbnb was the service for Local, and GetYourGuide was the service for Tourist.
Then I went into some of the other cities. I wanted to see how much the international cities’ apps differed from the New York ones, to get an idea about how useful this app would be in terms of avoiding excess downloads.
My conclusion was that they’re different enough for this kind of app to be helpful – it would definitely save me the storage space and the hassle.
Admittedly, I have no on-the-ground knowledge about any city outside of the US to know if these choices were accurate. So to get an idea of what people are using elsewhere, I contacted a friend from San Francisco who’s lived in Paris for about three months on a work assignment.
With the disclaimer that she wasn’t nearly as integrated into society as a local Parisian, she said she hadn’t heard of Foodora – the app that Mitty assigned for Paris’ food delivery – and that Deliveroo is the clear frontrunner as far as she knows.
She added, however, that for restaurant recommendations she tends to lean on food bloggers and friend recommendations because “they don’t use Yelp very readily, so Apple Maps isn’t loaded with a ton of that content.” This is a clear use case for an app like Mitty.
Even domestically, Mitty showed different services here and there. In San Francisco, for example, the food delivery app was Uber Eats while New York’s was Postmates.
As Mitty adds cities, food delivery and grocery delivery will probably be one of the services that varies the most, considering the heavily saturated market.
And Mitty is rolling out a feature that takes into account any alternative options. Holding down on a service instead of tapping on it will eventually pull up a menu that looks like this:
It’s only available for London’s food delivery service for now, but “similar logic will [be] applied to other services where there is no clear leader for the service provider,” said Rayev. “We are rolling out this feature to other cities and services soon.”
And Mitty does plan on bringing its app to more cities. In fact, if you go back to the city menu (done by clicking on the city name up top) and click on one of the “coming soon” cities, you can contribute to its future service options.
“We decided to tackle cities step-by-step by their tourist inflow numbers,” Rayev said. “At the moment, we have accumulated enough data to start adding the rest of European Capitals and start exploring Asian cities.”
I liked the fact that this is crowdsourced; how else would a local get their tips about what to use? I didn’t know to use City Mapper in New York, for example, until a friend told me he liked it better than Google Maps.
You can also nominate a city that isn’t in the options by clicking on “Next City?” or “Vote for your city” buttons. These take you to a Google form to fill out some information about the city you’d want to see.
It was a short series of questions:
1. The name of a city I’d want to see on the app
2. Whether I’m a local there now, travelling there soon, or “Other”
3. My email address
4. My platform (iPhone, Android, Web, BlackBerry, and Windows were the options).
You still have to create an account for each app you want to use, unfortunately; Mitty says its “working on a solution to integrate universal login system, although it is a pretty big problem to solve.” But that’s a minor caveat in my opinion: Not having to download a new set of apps every time you visit a new city could be a huge asset to the traveller who can’t spare storage space.
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