Comparing Different App Recommendations in Soho

  1. Dojo

It was founded in January 2014 by 3 Bristol University Graduates who wanted to facilitate finding things to do in the city. The small London based company is mainly backed by UK tech investors. It targets 18-35 year olds who ‘want to move slightly away from the beaten track’.

Although Dojo is organised categorically or chronologically, I was able to search the Soho area for things to do. What came up was mostly places to drink, a few restaurants, and a couple of vintage clothing stores.  There were a lot of choices, however, not all places shown on the mapped where actually ‘pinned’. I found this interesting, as it could be a result of what kinds of places Dojo lists, and who they are targeting.  

Their language is fairly straightforward and casual with tinges of sarcasm. It is clearly meant to be used by adults, and probably targeted more towards the younger crowd.

One user review comments that the app does not have enough content for areas outside central London. They also have generated a guide for Paris, and are aiming to add other global city guides to the app.

The app is simple to use, and curates listings according to the time of day and weather. It can also be customised to user preferences, and the user can save certain lists or events to remember them

 

  1. Street Art London

After opening “Street Art London,” I initially thought the app was malfunctioning.  While roaming the streets of Soho, occasionally wandering into casual pieces of street art, I realized the app didn’t have a single piece recorded in its database.  As I zoomed out of the map, I realized the majority of entries were located in Shoreditch and the area around.

 

 Of course there is a ton of street art in Shoreditch, but the app is literally called “Street Art London.”  After doing a bit of research, I realized that app was developed by “Shoreditch Tours Ltd,” which is a business that does street tours in Shoreditch.  Since the title of the app is so vague (using “London” instead of “East London”), it easily draws in users (like me) and directs them towards Shoreditch.  Though the street art on the app is largely confined to East London, all it took was a 20 minute walk around Soho to see that this isn’t the case.

 

  1. Frugl

Frugl is an application designed to find events in the city or simply to look for places to go and spend time without spending big amounts of money.

 

If you directly use the ‘Show All’ option you will be shown all the events and things to do in the next seven days. In each of the options it specifies the price, the type of activity, the place where it is carried out and the exact day and time. There are all kinds of activities depending on what you are looking for or what you want to do, but the best thing is that you can do a more specific search if you want. Thus you can also filter your search between comedy, dance, music, cinema, beauty, kids/family, nightlife … So it makes you much easier when it comes to finding the plan you want.

 

In addition, one of the best things about the app is that it lets you select between ‘free’, ‘£1 – £5’ and ‘£5 – £10′. So you can always look for the plans that best fit you.

 

The only problem is that you cannot search in a certain area, just like with other applications of the style, such as Fever. Luckily I have been able to find one that is developed in the Soho area. Also once you select one of the events, the application gives you a description of it and gives you the option to use CityMapper to find the location or Uber to get to the location.

4. Walk History

Walk History is an app developed by Historic England, as part of the Keep it London Campaign. The keep it London campaign was encouraging heritage to be recognised as vital for future london growth. In the fastly globalising world, I find it interesting that Historic England are trying to keep the memory alive of how places were once. It adds another layer to the city, behind that of the other ‘activity aps’ which are about finding what’s been added to the place most recently, the ‘freshest’ layer of place. On the app, photos, archive images and videos allow the user to identify architectural periods and understand what makes them different, thus feeding into a concept of place identity.

 

With the app, you can chose the walk you want to explore, for example ‘130 Years of Queer Soho’, and then download this to your phone. Another example is the ‘Spotter’s Guide: the Early Georgian Townhouse’, allowing the user to indulge in positioning themselves within a cultural history, but also an architectural and period history. This may make the experience of carrying out the ‘other activities’ in soho, a more profound and rich experience.  

 

5. Hoop

I looked at Soho through the lense of Hoop, an app run by a team in Clerkenwell who wants to make ‘it easier for families to find great things to do with their kids in the local area’.

I told the app I had two children, a 3 year-old and a 6 year-old, and looked for things to do next Saturday around Soho. First I had to change the distance from ‘auto’ to ‘1 mile’, since otherwise it gave me things to do in places such as Hampstead Heath…

 

Then, I got various suggestions of things to do: an exhibition visit followed by creative activities aimed at children, an interactive music concert in Wigmore Hall, a film projection of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which is about children running away from the war and meeting a witch, a taster session for vibraphone, marimba and timpani, three musicals (Aladdin, Matilda and The Pirates of Penzance) and a Harry Potter walking tour.

 

Once you’ve chosen what you want to do, you can ‘get directions’ there; the link opens on whatever app you have on your phone to get directions, so for me it was either Citymapper or Google Maps.

 

There is only one picture provided with each activity, and they tend to illustrate the activities, not the place they are in. The name of Soho is not really used to define a certain space in the city, but only to provide direction and to indicate how far the activity you are looking for is from your location. The only specificity of the area that is highlighted is the importance of theatre, and culture as a whole: all of the activities suggested were ‘cultural’ activities. Because the app is geared towards families and children, it leaves out other specificities of Soho, such as its nightlife or its role as London’s gay neighbourhood.

 

Also interesting is the way using this app will direct families to already popular places for reasons different from what make them popular with other audiences. For example, the exhibition offering creative activities for children is located in Savile Row, a street usually associated with its tailors and bespoke men’s suits, not with children activities.

 

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