Mapping apps have given us unprecedented access to the world around us, but even with all this technology at our disposal, remembering the name of that bar you went to last week can still be a struggle. Well, struggle no longer: We’ve pulled together a selection of the best apps and sites for keeping your favourite spots bookmarked and accessible.
The old starring facility is still available in Google Maps, though in many places inside the various apps it’s called saving not starring — it remains the best way to bookmark places within Google’s mapping tool, although it can be difficult to distinguish between your most-loved bars and your uncle’s house. Some kind of categorising or organising tool would be welcome.
In both the iOS and Android apps tap Your places from the menu to see places you’ve previously saved. It’s a bit more difficult on the sparse web interface: Recently starred places show in your search history, and should appear first for search queries, but you can’t see them all in one place (the old link from the Google dashboard now seems to be broken — an update is apparently coming soon).
In Apple Maps, your starred or saved places are called your favourites — you can find the Add to Favourites option from the Share menu on an individual place page when on iOS. A link to all of your favourites then appears at the top of the list whenever you search for something, and you can make changes or remove places from here.
On your Mac the routine is very much the same: Click inside the search bar to see a link to your favourites appear. Again, you can add to your list from each place’s pop-up panel dialog, and again it would be nice to be able to sort favourites into different categories just to be able to distinguish that great restaurant you went to last night from the dentist you need to visit tomorrow afternoon.
Citymaps offers a more intelligent way of bookmarking the places around you and is available to install on iOS and Android. It does more than save your favourite spots too, letting you plan trips with friends, discover interesting places near your location, get news from people you follow, and more.
When you’ve got the app up and running on your device, you’ll be able to build up multiple lists of places and create personalised maps that can then be shared with friends. What’s more, Citymaps gives you recommendations about new places to try based on the spots you’ve liked in the past, and you can import data from Foursquare too.
Fairly new to the mapping scene, Mapstr promises to help you “never forget places again” and that’s a pretty fair assessment of what it does. The iPhone app lets you pin places you’ve loved in the past or want to try out in the future, and there are both map and list views to help you keep track of your venues.
The tagging feature is a welcome inclusion, letting you group different kinds of places together, and the app’s database brings up plenty of useful information about places of interest. We especially like the way you can scan an address in text form (via the iPhone camera) as well as finding places through the map, and you can add notes to each item in your list too.
Another iOS app wanting to be your go-to place bookmarking tool is Rego, though this one will set you back $US7.99. Despite the high entry fee, it comes well-recommended from those who use it, and there are a stack of features to work your way through: Trip planning, photo and note storing, a web interface, integration with a bunch of other apps and more.
As you would expect in an app this sophisticated, organising your favourites into lists and categories works in an intuitive and straightforward way, and if you can take the hit on the app price then this is one of the most comprehensive options out there. You can easily share your exciting new discoveries with your friends as well.
Let’s not forget the old veteran of the field, Foursquare. The spinning off of a separate app (Swarm) for checking in and following friends might be a little clunky, but the main app is still a great way of keeping track of venues that you want to go back and visit again — you’ll even get a reminder when you pass close to one of them.
Plus, it lets you split up your favourite places into different lists, so you can have one for trendy nightspots and one for chilled-out coffee shops. There’s plenty of data on each one, plus a map view to navigate around, and it’s easy to tell that Foursquare has been at this a long time.
Finally, Matchbook is another place bookmarking app you might want to try, free for iPhone. There’s a focus here on restaurants and bars, and the easiest way to add somewhere is by searching for it on the map. All of your bookmarks are then collected together in one list and you can use it to get “inspiration” for new places you might want to try.
There’s no way of splitting your list into categories, but you can distinguish between places you’ve visited, places you want to visit and places you loved. The filter option lets you search by location or date and you can add personal notes to each entry too. Not the most comprehensive app for the job but nicely designed and simple to use.