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Face it: the real world is what makes the Internet so great. That’s part of the appeal of social networks: you’re connecting to people you know in real life. And it’s a huge part of the appeal of location-based services, which use the web to teach you more about your real world surroundings.

Today. Cool Websites and Apps has five apps that teach you more about the world near you. Find anonymous people to chat with, browse photos taken nearby, find somewhere to be alone, or just become more informed about essential services. Let’s get started.

Yik Yak, the Web Version: Chat with People near You, with a Full Keyboard

Yik Yak offers anonymous conversations with people nearby, but until recently you could only have those conversations on your phone. That’s changing: you can now use the service at right in your browser.


You still need a supported phone to use the app. To set things up, you need to provide your phone number and then open the app on your phone to fetch a code. But once it’s set up, you can use Yik Yak in your browser just the way you do on the web.

If you’ve never used Yik Yak before, here’s 10 things you need to know about the site 10 Things You Need to Know About Yik Yak 10 Things You Need to Know About Yik Yak Yik Yak is an app that lets anyone post anonymous messages visible only to others nearby. But what does Yik Yak actually do? Read More . Make sure you’re also familar with the Yik Yak etiquette The Unspoken Yik-Yak Etiquette Code The Unspoken Yik-Yak Etiquette Code Even anonymous groups have rules. While it might seem like Yik Yak would be a free-for-all, an unspoken code of conduct has emerged amongst users. Here we explain these unwritten rules. Read More before making an ass of yourself. See Instagram and Flickr Photos Taken Near You

Did you know you can geotag your Flickr photos How To Geotag Your Flickr Photos & Explore Them By Location How To Geotag Your Flickr Photos & Explore Them By Location Read More ? Or your Instagram images? Well, both have optional location tags, which means it’s possible to browse images in your area. makes doing this easy: just open the site, share your location, and start scrolling through pictures taken somewhere near you.


The most recent images are always at the top of the pile, so it’s a quick way to see what’s going on near you.

Wiman (Android, iOS): Find WiFi Hotspots Near You

Want to get out for a bit, but afraid of being away from the Internet? We’ve shown you tools for finding WiFi hotspots 5 Wi-Fi Hotspot Finders to Find Free Wi-Fi Spots Near You 5 Wi-Fi Hotspot Finders to Find Free Wi-Fi Spots Near You Read More , but have never pointed out Wiman. Which is too bad, because it seems like one of the more complete apps out there for finding free WiFi hot spots.

One feature I’ve yet to see elsewhere: you can download a map of hotspots for any city. A map of WiFi hotspots isn’t useful if you need Internet access to use it, so offline usage is key. Whether you’re living without a data plan The Best Offline Android Apps for Living Without Data The Best Offline Android Apps for Living Without Data Data plans are expensive, and you don't need them. Here's how you can get by without one and still take full advantage of your Android smartphone. Read More or just looking to stay within your plan’s data caps, finding WiFi is always helpful. This app can help.

Avoid Humans: Find Somewhere to go Without People

Sometimes you want to leave the house, but don’t want to talk to anyone. Avoid Humans helps by showing you places nearby that not many people have checked into recently. The idea is these places are relatively empty.


Just head to the site and share your current location – the site will in turn give you a list of nearby places to check out. I quite like that it pointed out some nearby parks and trails, but coffee shops and bars are also offered. Find somewhere to get some work done, without the crowd.

FindED: Find Nearby Emergency Rooms

Let’s change tracks, shall we? FindED lets you browse all the emergency rooms near you, and see a bit of information about each of them. You’ll see information about wait times, quality of care, and even phone numbers.


The idea is to give people more information about the hospitals near them, so they know which ones to choose when problems come up. It’s not complete, however, as the site’s homepage points out:

While this application is intended to help users make informed decisions on where to receive care, it is only a stepping stone toward future studies on how interactions between patients and hospitals are affected by the availability of hospital data.

It’s an interesting idea, and worth keeping an eye on.

What Are Your Favorite Location Based Apps?

These are just five little-known tools that make it possible to learn more about the community around you. But I want to learn about more.

What tools did we miss? What sorts of tools would you like toe know about? I’m looking forward to chatting with you about all this and more in the comments below, so let’s get started.

Image Credits:tv icon by Hluboki Dzianis via Shutterstock

  1. Raghav Narayan
    February 9, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Hello Justin,

    Great post, I recently launched an TheRoammate connects people seeking to pursue shared activities such as engaging in sports, participating in cultural activities, pursuing hobbies. Its available on iOS and Android at!

    It shows users people around them interested in pursuing the same activities!

    Its a V1, so please be patient :)
    Keep Roamming!

    Thanks again!

    • Justin Pot
      February 9, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Hey man, thanks for sharing the app, having any luck gathering users?

  2. Phid ippides
    January 26, 2016 at 5:10 am

    One kind of app that I feel has never truly been exploited for its full potential is the kind that gives nearby tweets on a map (geo-located). Some of these apps have been around for years (I remember them around 2009 or 2010), but many of them seem to be poorly maintained or end up dying after Twitter API changes. I feel like I've gone through several of them over the years; no single one seems to stay at it very well.

    The reason I love seeing nearby tweets is because it's an incredible experience in micro-culture. Want to know what someone at a neighbor's house down the block is thinking? At a public event, do you want to easily see what others are saying about it? Maybe there's a rally downtown and you want to see what people are saying without actually going there. Or maybe you just landed at an airport and want to see what's on other travelers' minds. Whatever the case, it's a highly enjoyable experience to see the local vibe through the eyes of nearby Twitter users.

    • fcd76218
      January 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      Great app if you want to find the twit that tweeted that tweet you do not like/appreciate and retaliate physically. Of course, I know YOU would not do that but there are those that definitely would.

      • Justin Pot
        January 26, 2016 at 3:09 pm

        Don't do it!

      • Phid ippides
        January 26, 2016 at 3:44 pm

        That's why Twitter gives you the option to turn geolocation off. I personally like turning it on when I'm not at home so that others can see me tweet from locations around town, but turning it off at home. Actually, since I live in an apartment with multiple floors, it would make it a bit harder to tell exactly where I am based on my tweet location.

  3. Eric
    January 26, 2016 at 4:55 am

    Surprised your article didn't mention Yelp, AroundMe, GasBuddy, or Swarm.

    Granted, Swarm was better back when it was Foursquare and not a separate checking-in app that allowed "mayorships". Foursquare really blew it there. But the other three apps are all solid contenders for location services-enabled apps.

    • Justin Pot
      January 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      This column tries to point out things we haven't mentioned yet, otherwise I'd include all that and more! Great suggestions.

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