Remote Control Metropolis

How to make the most of a smartphone in 14 urban hours

Vienna gets kudos for urban planning, passive and affordable housing, and trash disposal. The preferred nomenclature is “Smart City”. But nothing makes a slightly geeky Wien-dweller feel smarter than having the answer to everyday hurdles right on her phone.

Plenty of tokens of the touchscreen are dedicated to local everyday needs and desires. With GPS tracking, augmented reality and updates in real-time, I can spend the day guided through town by my hand-held device.

Get a citybike with bikar, window shop on Shopikon, or book a table for dinner with delinski

Get a citybike with bikar, window shop on Shopikon, or book a table for dinner with delinski

To begin, I need a strong cup of coffee. Fast. And a decent but low-key breakfast. I open my falter wien isst app (also in English), and by clicking the “nearby” button, I find Zimmer 37, right on the Karmelitermarkt. I go in and order a “Vital Frühstück” and over my coffee, I start planning.  After breakfast, I’m ready to hit the road – or bike path. I just need a bike.

The bikar app is free and shows every citybike portal in town. I walk to the closest one on Obere Donaustrasse. I want to cycle around to try out an app called bike city guide (English). The app offers ready-made tours, point-to-point navigation and a make-your-own-tour option.

I choose their “Up to the Sky” tour, which takes me far uphill to the vineyards of the 19th, and the workout earns me a spectacular view over the city from Am Himmel. The female voice is somewhat irritating, but better than other GPS fairies I’ve known, and the routing is fast. The first tour is free, but the whole city guide is €4.49.

On the way back, I arrive at Schottenring and continue along the Ring. As I reach Stadtpark, my phone rings. My friend Jenny and her son are visiting from London. Do I have time to meet this evening? Of course.

All this activity is making me hungry. I check my bikar app for the closest place to dispose of my citybike. My app tells me the station on the Ring is full, so I waste no time and head to another on Museumsstraße.

I then find an app called delinski, offering “smart table booking”.  You say when you want to eat (morning, noon, evening) and how many people, and they tell you which restaurants have space.

An added perk is that booking this way saves you 30% off the bill. For now, I reserve Zu ebener Erde und erster Stock at Burggasse 13. Once there, I order, check emails and browse Facebook. When my beef tartar arrives, I snap a picture and I’m about to post it on Instagram when my phone chimes again.

I’ve been haggling for days on shpock, a made-in-Austria “classifieds and yard sale app”. No annoying small print: If the vendor likes your price, you can pick up the item, be it a guitar, phone case or a perfume. I’d scored a blazer for €20 and ella24 is asking if I want to pick it up from her on Kaiserstrasse.

After my sport-intensive morning I don’t feel like walking, so I check for a nearby car2go, those blue and white Smarts you see all over town. Car2go is perfect for anyone who wants occasional use of a car – without having to own one.

I look up Jenny’s flight on the Vienna ­Airport app; it’s delayed an hour. I decide to find a few fun things for her and her 8-year-old. I check shopikon, a detailed, up-to-date shopping guide. In the neighbourhood, I find Artee, a teahouse for Asiaphiles, which I’m sure she’ll love, and Bilderbox, a comic-book mecca for her son.

Each shop has an insightful review, location stats and photos. I want to find a fitting place for dinner, where Junior can have fun too. I check ­falstaff (the Austrian Gault Millau) for modern/creative places near Stadtpark where they’re staying, and find Viereck. My phone rings.

They’ve just got to the hotel, and they’re starving. On delinski, I book a table at ­Viereck for 21:00. The Falstaff app offers ratings rather than actual reviews, but delinski offers many reviews, including Falstaff’s own.
Also, Junior has a cold from the plane. Could I pick up some medicine? Thanks to the fantastic apo-app (pharmacy app) I find the nearest open drugist to save the day.

Dinner is great, all ordered via tablet. As we eat, I tell Jenny about my day. We agree it’s fun – but we’re relieved our lives are not entirely dependent on our phones. My screen lights up. 10% battery life remaining…  But it’s time to go home anyhow.

After saying goodbye to the Londoners, I board the U4 home. With the last of my battery, I use the Wiener Linien app qando to buy an electronic ticket. Getting caught as a Schwarzfahrer, just doesn’t align with the “smart” theme .¸

All apps available in the iTunes Store except delinski, which can be downloaded to your home screen from (see tab “delinski to go”)

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