Navigate to Food Trucks

Food Truck Mania is alive and well in many American cities. From Korean BBQ to tacos to cupcakes, there’s a truck to satisfy any palate. But how do you find out what’s available near you? Answer: Location-based food truck apps.

Apps Tailored to Your City
Depending upon where you live, there may be apps designed specifically for your city or town. The Cart Compass PDX app (iPhone | Android), for instance, provides real-time information about Portland’s famous food trucks, stalls, and pods.

Cart Compass PDX is powered by a database containing over 300 different vendors! The app determines your current location and shows the nearest trucks on a map. You can also search by vendor or type of cuisine and access user-generated ratings and reviews. Here are a few additional city-specific apps:

New York City: NYC Truck Food iPhone
Chicago: Chicago Food Truck Finder iPhone | Android | Web
San Antonio: San Antonio Food Truck Finder iPhone | Android

The features and functions of Cart Compass PDX are common to many food truck apps. Virtually all are GPS-enabled and detect your precise location.

Differentiating factors may include the app’s total number of participating vendors as well as the accuracy and accessibility of the information. Given that all of the apps mentioned in this article are free, it’s easy to download and compare multiple options.

Multi-City Apps
If you are a frequent (and often hungry) traveler, you may want to download a multi-city food truck app. This is just one of the apps that we now know thanks to the NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge. TruckSpotting (iPhone | Android) covers 12 cities and, as with the aforementioned local apps, automatically pinpoints your location and shows what’s available in that particular town.

TruckSpotting also provides menus and a weekly schedule of locations for participating vendors. For a similar experience with even wider coverage (35 cities), check out the Roaming Hunger website and iPhone App.

Truckily (iPhone | Android), another multi-city app, is worth mentioning given its social media integration. Many mobile food vendors use social media to announce their location and provide up-to-the-minute menu information.

Conveniently, Truckily embeds each vendor’s social media feed into the app, enabling users to get all the latest news and updates in one place. Truckily users also have the option to receive push notifications whenever a food truck is in their vicinity.

One final tip: For apps with full web sites (Roaming Hunger, Chicago Food Truck Finder), you can always pin the site to your smartphone’s home screen for easy access.

Hopefully, this quick rundown of food truck apps has whetted your appetite! But the toughest decision awaits: Which truck do you want to eat at today?

Augmented Reality: Seeing a World of Information through Your Smartphone

Once upon a time, a camera was simply a tool for pausing and capturing fleeting moments in time. But with a new technology called augmented reality (or AR), your smartphone’s lens can change the way you see the present moment—offering helpful advice and virtual imagery to make everyday experiences more convenient than ever.

What is Augmented Reality?
Simply put, augmented reality takes what your camera sees, and overlays relevant virtual elements like text, images, and video, creating an interactive experience based in your real-world environment. A popular gaming technology for some time, augmented reality is now being used for a wide range of mainstream applications, from navigation to recreation.

Augmented Reality Apps for Navigation
There are lots of apps that help you get around your city, but perhaps none offers as much real-time, location-relevant information as HERE City Lens (see video below). Developed exclusively for Nokia Lumia devices, City Lens is designed to make discovering the world around you as natural as looking around.

City Lens utilizes Lumia’s GPS system to overlay information about surrounding businesses, transportation hubs, and landmarks over the phone’s camera display. Filtering options include a line-of-site view for densely populated areas, as well as an in-screen search function that will return results as broad as “food” and as narrow as specific business names.

For those without a Lumia device, Wikitude (available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone) is an award-winning augmented reality map that serves up content from a number of partners, including Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Twitter to help users discover places, events, and opinions from their vicinity. Using Facebook’s social graph open API, Wikitude can also aggregate friends’ geotagged content to point users in the direction of their pal’s recent expeditions.

Augmented Reality App for Job Seekers
Even the experience of seeking a new career has taken on a new look with the help of augmented reality. For college students, finding a well-paying and rewarding career is key as most students have built up a massive student loan debt.

Nokia’s new app for finding jobs, JobLens for Windows Phone 8 devices, connects with a user’s LinkedIn profile and GPS to find nearby job openings based on the individual’s skill set. The app’s optional augmented reality view allows users to sort opportunities by both job and company, and click for more information from Indeed, LinkedIn, and other partners.

Augmented Reality Apps for Shopping
As augmented reality technology continues to mature, retailers are finding new and better ways to move beyond AR gimmicks to provide useful, engaging content on their customers’ mobile screens. Eyewear retailer Ray Bans was among the first to jump on the AR bandwagon, offering online shoppers a Virtual Mirror that lets them “try on” various pairs of sunglasses from the comfort of their home computer.

This month, Swedish homewares behemoth Ikea launched a new app that lets users visualize how different pieces of Ikea furniture will look in their home. Users simply activate the app and point their camera toward a specially marked Ikea catalog to see one of several designs appear in virtual space.

The trend of developing augmented reality apps for business is likely to further expand, with companies like String, GoldRun, and Holition leading the charge. Stay with as we continue to track the latest in consumer and business AR news.