You know the feeling - you wanna go out, you've got stuff to do, shopping to fetch but, you've left it a little late. Stores near you are more than likely closed or on they were to closing for the day. So, you hit up Google and then Google Maps and you think "where shall I go?". You've spent 15 - 20 mins searching for a store when you could already be on your way. Enter Store Hours, an app that helps you find out what's open near you and until when - you can also search for stores as well. The app is currently focused on the US however, if there are some European readers out there in Austria, Germany and Switzerland then you're in luck, too.
Description: Store Hours is powered by the iStoreHours website - which you can find here - and the directories out together by over 30,000 iStoreHours scouts. Of which, you can become one yourself by finding out more on their wesbite. The directory contains over 4 million entries so you shouldn't have trouble finding a store open near you. You can also save stores to your favourites to quickly check on opening times over the weekend or whenever you're not sure. Registration to the service is free as well.
How It Works: It's a simple and easy application to get up and running and all you have to do is to install the app from the Play Store and then open the app by finding the entry in your app drawer called "open?" and then pick whether you want the US service or the service for select parts of Europe. After that the app will locate you by GPS and display stores around you in a handy list for you.
You can then click to open one of this stores to get more information and those all important opening times. There's also links to a phone number and a link to the wb if and when applicable.
You can also search for stores manually so, if you just have to get to your local Walgreens before closing now you can find out by just hitting the magnifying glass that'll drop down.
If you're looking to add a store in your area to the database then you can simply hit the pencil tab to open up that dialogue. So, go ahead and enter your local stores to help out others! The more stores that are entered the bigger the directory gets and the directory really is this app's biggest strength.
Opinion: I'm the type of person that leaves things to the last minute and I detest going shopping. Sure, I can go the Game store for hours on end but I don't like going to get groceries or clothes so, I tend to leave that till the last minute. By the time I can be bothered to go out I get there to find the usual stores are shot. Store Hours however, helps because I can do a quick search to see what's open around me and then I can go ahead and plan around that or I can just make a snap decision and go over whenever - because now I know when they're open.
- Speed (5/5) - The app was installed quickly and searching is fast and requires little user intervention
- Features (4/5) - Having so many store times in one place is super convenient and being able to add more to it is an added bonus.
- Theme (3/5) - The theme for Store Hours is simple if not a little dated but, it certainly doesn't get in your way.
- Overall (4/5) - I think the app is a must have for someone always armed with a smartphone - adding more to the directory is a real boon.
- Over 4 million entries is a big number and it really shows - stores are crazy easy to find nearby.
- Thanks to the community aspect of Store Hours new store listings are being added all the time.
- Being able to add store listings to favourites is a big help.
- Store Hours' look and feel would look a lot better in the ICS Holo theme.
- More places added to Europe would be brilliant - what about London?
Conclusion: As someone that uses his phone far often than he ought to do I know what makes a useful app and this is one of them. The selling point here is that all the store listings are in the same place making the whole thing really easy to find a store open near you which can be a little tedious through Google Maps at the best of times. If you haven't done so already go ahead and give the app a try now.