Don’t Sleep in the Subway, Baby

Sure Yahoo’s been on a spending spree, but Apple has been doing some shopping of its own this summer. Last week, it acquired two location-oriented companies, Locationary and HopStop.

HopStop, for those who haven’t had it save the bacon in a strange land, offers up door-to-door transit, walking, biking, and taxi directions in over 300 cities worldwide. No word on what Apple plans to do with the service (besides nuking the Windows Phone app version), but here’s hoping the transit directions get folded into the Apple Maps app so we all don’t have to refer to other apps to figure out our train plan. So go download the app or check out the mobile site now.

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But if HopStop isn’t your thing, what else can you use to navigate the labyrinth of a major metropolitan mass transit system and not get lost for days?

If you have an iPhone, you can get free maps and directions for 12 major transit systems with Embark for iOS. Boston, Chicago, London, Long Island, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC and most importantly, New York are among the cities serviced here. And Embark does not require an Internet connection so you can use it when you’re on a platform underground trying to figure out which train to take when the one you need is out of service. There’s also a free version for the Embark NYC Subway for Android.

But if New York City is the town you wish explore, our own Metropolitan Transit Authority Web site has a huge collection of links to mobile apps for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and mobile Web. It’s a mix of official and third-party developers, but you can find 68 iPhone apps, 34 iPad apps, 33 Android apps, 8 BlackBerry apps and 8 Windows Phone apps listed.

Lest we forget, Google Maps for Android and iOS. The old reliable app includes transit guides for many cities and all kinds of navigational bells and whistles like audio turn-by-turn directions.

If you’re traveling or just want a really good pocket guide for your own hometown, check your phone’s app store and search for transit apps and local guides for specific cities. And while you’re loading up your phone with your transit app of choice, don’t forget to throw a few appropriate tunes on there as well. Safe travels, yo.

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