The kids are almost done with school, which means that Summer road trips in the car are just around the corner. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the refrains of "Are we there yet?" Whether your upcoming long trips on the Interstate are for business or pleasure, it is incredibly useful to know what is at the upcoming exits. Sure, you can read the signs before each exit, but how do you know if it is better to wait one or two more exits to get better food options? The solution is an app called iExit. This free app has been around for some time, but I didn't know about it until one of my co-presenters sang its praises during the 60 Apps in 60 Minutes session that I was a part of at ABA TECHSHOW earlier this year. I've since used it on several road trips, and now I cannot imagine not having it. This is a great, useful app.
The app works best when you are on the Interstate. Obviously, if you are the driver, you need to pay attention to the road so this app works best when used by someone in the passenger seat. Start the app and iExit figures out which Interstate you are on and which direction you are headed, and then it displays a list of the upcoming exits. This main screen gives you lots of information such as the exit number, how far away you are from the exit, and an icons to indicate what is available at each exit. As you get very close to an exit, it starts to fade away, and then when you pass that exit it disappears and the others move up — animation that is both fun and useful.
Tap on an exit to see a list of what is available at the exit, organized by the distance from the exit plus a useful indication of whether you need to turn left or right at the end of the exit to get to the establishment. Tap on an establishment to get more information, or tap the phone icon to call.
One of the options for each establishment is Google Streetview. For some addresses on Interstate exits, Google Streetview is not very useful at all, not showing you the correct location. But other times it works very well, letting you quickly see what the place will look like from the street, which can make it easier to find the place. One quick glance at the first picture below makes it easy to find that McDonalds. And for businesses that have a 3D walk-through of their business available on Google Streetview, you can even get a virtual tour of a place as you decide whether to go there. For example, the second picture below is the inside of a great restaurant in Covington, LA called Dakota.
You can also use the app to search or nearby restaurants. So if you are on the Interstate and have a taste for, say, Chick-Fil-A, you can search for that restaurant and see how far the next one is. Or you can search for a category of establishments, such as restaurants or gas or rest areas.
If you are not yet on the Interstate but instead are just planning ahead, the app includes an option to Plan Your Trip. Select a state and then an Interstate number, and the app will list all of the exits, so you can make decisions before you go on where you want to stop along the way.
Best of all, and as you can tell from the above pictures, iExit does a nice job presenting information, making it quick and easy to see what you need to see.
While on the Interstate, I've only used this app on an iPhone, but I see that it is a universal app so it will work on an iPad too — although if you only have a Wi-Fi iPad, it won't have a GPS to automatically find its location. On an iPad, all of the information is displayed on the left, and right portion of the screen provides you a map.
As I think back on road trips I have taken in the past, I can think of so many times when this app would have been so useful to have. I've already found it to be so useful in the last few months, and I'll never take another road trip without having this app on my iPhone. Neither should you.