Software

Five handy apps for booking a ride

You don't have to unleash an earsplitting whistle to hail a cab. These smartphone apps offer a simple (and quieter) way to arrange a ride.

As someone who travels almost constantly, I find myself routinely needing taxis or limos in unfamiliar cities. Thankfully, there are quite a few smartphone apps that can be used to arrange for ground transportation. This article lists five such apps.

Before we get started, I want to pass along one bit of advice: It's a good idea to check the geographic service area prior to downloading an app. Many of the apps that are available work only in specific countries or specific cities. I have tried to put together a list of apps that are as versatile as possible, but one does have significant geographic restrictions — although I had a special reason for including it.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: Uber

Uber (Figure A) is a wildly popular alternative to taxi service in many cities. The basic idea is that you can arrange for rides from Uber drivers, who are usually regular people using their personal cars. The Uber app can be used to arrange a pick up from an Uber Driver.

Figure A

Figure A

The app is relatively straightforward, but one thing really bothers me about it: You have to register and provide payment information (such as a credit card number or a PayPal account) before you can even look around within the app. Furthermore, there doesn't seem to be a way to remove your payment information or cancel your account when you're done.

The Uber app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

2: Easy Taxi

Easy Taxi (Figure B) is one of the best apps available for requesting a taxi. There are two main things I like about this app. First, it works almost anywhere. There are roughly 40 countries in which Easy Taxi can be used. The other thing I like about this app is its simplicity. The app makes the process of requesting a cab idiot proof — and believe me, that's a good thing on those mornings when I am getting up insanely early because I've got a 5:00 AM flight.

Figure B

Figure B

Easy Taxi is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

3: mytaxi

mytaxi (Figure C) is another free app for reserving a taxi. Like Uber, mytaxi requires you to create an account, but you can skip the part where it asks for a payment method if all you want to do is take a look around. The app itself is pretty simple. You merely verify that your GPS location on a map is correct and tap Confirm Pickup Location. The US version of the website claims to have access to 45,000 taxis.

Figure C

Figure C

mytaxi is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry.

4: GroundLink Car and Limo Service

GroundLink Car and Limo Service (Figure D) is for those who prefer "chauffeured black car service" rather than a traditional taxi. The app is linked to 45,000 vehicles in the US and also works in 110 other countries.

Figure D

Figure D

The app's functionality is almost identical to mytaxi, in that you must verify your location on a map and then tap Confirm Pickup Location to arrange a ride.

The GroundLink Car Service app is available for iOS and Android.

5: WOW Taxi

WOW Taxi (Figure E) is more limited than the other apps I have discussed because it works only in New York City. Even so, I had to include this app because it fits a very real need. The WOW in WOW Taxi stands for Wheels on Wheels. The reason for this somewhat unusual name is that the app is designed specifically as a tool to help the disabled to get around Manhattan. What sets WOW Taxi apart from other taxi apps is that it's used solely for dispatching wheelchair-accessible taxis. As I said, this service is currently available only in New York City, but hopefully the company will expand to other areas.

Figure E

Figure E

The app itself works similarly to some of the other apps — you must confirm your GPS location and then book a ride.

WOW Taxi is available for iOS and Android.

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