What's in Town is an Android app designed for those that either live in the UK or are visiting the UK for the first time. It's an app that gives travellers and perhaps those looking for something to do in their nearby area a way of finding out just what is, well, in town. It might seem like a trivial idea, and it could be argued that Google Maps already does this, but Google Maps can be a little too much on the commercial side of things. Without all of the store listings and restaurant reviews, What's in Town is a much more streamlined and agreeable app for those that need to see what's near them, or to scope out a nearby town or city to get an idea of what they can do there. A great app for planning a day out, getting yourself familiar with an area and so on, What's in Town is an app worth installing. We're also partnering with the developer behind What's in Town to giveaway a brand new Galaxy Note 7!
Just as with most Android apps, it's a good idea to download What's in Town from the Play Store. Once it's launched, the app will – without warning – go ahead and download the maps that it needs in order to function.
I was a little disappointed to see that this didn't ask before it started downloading all of the maps and data, as it didn't give me a change to check I was still on WiFi or not. While trivial, this is something that will be particularly important to Tourists, so it's a good idea to download this app before you leave for the UK it'd seem. The main menu will then give you an idea of what to do with the app, including what sort of Points of Interest to look for and to search for a town or city.
Now, for me, someone that lives in the UK and has just moved to a new town, so I decided to search What's in Town for things in my local area.
Somewhat surprisingly, I didn't see any evidence of anything at all in my new town, which I can sort of see as being correct. However, we have the Five Pits' Trail, one of the country's largest walking and cycling trail that connects several towns together, as well as being the first site of the UK's inland oil well.
While Tibshelf is certainly a small place, I was really surprised to see that Chesterfield didn't have any Points of Interest. I went to school in Chesterfield and there's a lot of History in the town, including the famous Crooked Spire Church and an Historic Market Town Center, too. The database of historical places, attractions and other POIs is of course constantly being updated, so these holes should be filled in before long.
However, it was interesting to see that Sheffield and other nearby towns and Cities have Points of Interest catalogued in the app.
Clicking on one of these Points of Interest will give them a little more info about the POI which floats on top of the map that people are looking at.
Users can also click "go to site" in order to be sent to Wikipedia from within the app, which will of course give you more information on where it is you're thinking of visiting or heading to.
What's in Town is the sort of app that has a noble goal, but it's one that ultimately comes a little short of reaching it. Whether or not it was just my testing, I found that the app didn't really take into account all the POIs and historical momnuments that cities up and down the UK had to offer. Some of the bigger places, such as London, Sheffield, Birmingham, Oxford and so on all had lots to see and do recorded within What's in Town, but to see towns like Chesterfield with nothing listed is something a head-scratcher. Even so, this is one app that will cut through the noise that Google Maps can be full of. Google Maps is often used to quickly find out if there's a coffee store nearby or something, but there's not much in the way of finesse there. Here, What's in Town aims to make it a lot easier to make sure that you know about the places you're going to visit, and it cleans up the interface without cluttering it with all manner of stores and petrol stations. Even so, it's clear that What's in Town has a long way to go before we can consider it a complete catalog of what the UK's great town and cities have to offer people.
- Speed (3.5/5) – Everything here runs nice and smoothly, and there's little in the way of slowdowns, but it does take quite some time to get started with the initial downloads and such.
- Theme (4/5) – The overall interface is pretty straightforward and easy to work with, even if it might not be the prettiest out there. It puts the map front and center as well, which is something any app like this should do.
- Features (4/5) – At its core, the functionality is quite good, and it's a great way of getting to know an area, or quickly finding something to explore that you might not otherwise be able to. It is however, clear that there are some serious holes in the overall catalog that need fixing.
- Overall (4/5) – While it might not be perfect, it has a lot to offer, and for some will be an invaluable and free tour guide to some of the UK's biggest and most well-known towns and cities.
- Completely free to download and use, with no need for in-app purchases, expect for one to remove ads.
- Uses Google Maps as a backbone to accurately depict where things are, as well as give people proper directions to the places they find on the map.
- Doesn't ask users much information or try to hold their hand, they're free to search for whichever city or place they want, and they can explore freely on the map.
- Great way of getting to know a new town or place, as well as experiencing your local area if you're just moved or are staying there for some time.
- Clearly has holes in the catalog that will need to be addressed, but the database is constantly being updated over time.
- Different POIs, such as Coffee and stores don't seem to work all that well unless you're in a big city.
All-in-all, What's in Town is a great app that does get the job done, it makes it super-simple to discover something new, and it should certainly be installed on the phones of those that are traveling the UK. It can also be a great way of just planning a day out or exploring a new area that you might not be familiar with. It does however, have some holes that we really didn't expect to see, but hopefully these will be fixed up over time as the small team does try their best to keep the database up-to-date.