Smartphone apps provide a fair amount of information about Las Vegas

It’s an app, app, appy world, as smartphones — your Droids, your iPhones, your BlackBerries — continue their slow-but-sure migration from the briefcases of the well-to-do into the pockets of gizmo-loving Americans.

With the growth of these pocket-sized computers has come the development of thousands of computer applications to run on them. And, enthusiastic Las Vegans that we are, we decided to go on a quest for apps that might be of particular interest to Las Vegas tourists and, by extension, we locals.

Our search took us to BlackBerry’s App World, the Android Market and iPhone’s App Store, the primary online markets for smartphone apps, to see what we could find.

What we mostly found: scads of vaguely Vegas-styled casino games, lots of straightforward apps developed by companies for customers or potential customers, plenty of airline and hotel apps, some catchall “what to do in Vegas” apps and apps that offer local news headlines.

(And, yes, we are shameless enough to note that the R-J’s own smartphone app is forthcoming, and that, in the meantime, the R-J’s mobile version can be found by going to m.lvrj.com on your smartphone’s browser.)

But we also found a few apps that we think offer something a little beyond the usual. While we make no claim that ours is a comprehensive list — feel free to let us, and readers, know about any that we haven’t included — here are the ones we most wanted to take for a spin.

(We list the apps on the platform on which we found them. Check your phone’s store to see if you can get them, too.)

All three stores offer apps for local hotels, entertainment venues and shows. But MGM Resorts offers an entertainment app that’s particularly cool.

Vegas Reality (free, iPhone) employs “augmented reality” and the iPhone’s GPS function and camera to put floating informational text onto real-time images. Just point the phone toward a hotel, and up comes info about its booking, food and entertainment options.

The app also can be used to provide info about some non-MGM resorts and, even, such historical events as the Dunes implosion.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas City Walks ($4.99, iPhone) offers turn-by-turn guides to walkers who wish to explore Las Vegas’ sights. The app incudes tours of the Strip and downtown, museums and galleries, themed restaurants and even wedding chapels.

Valley motor sports and rodeo fans have their own apps, too. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway app (free, Android) gives fans info about what’s going on at the speedway, from event schedules to where the nearest restroom might be. During this year’s NASCAR Weekend, the app even was used as part of a scavenger hunt in which fans won prizes.

The NFR app (free, for iPhone at www.NFRapp.com/itunes, and for Android and BlackBerry at www.NFRapp.com), unveiled last year, offers rodeo fans schedules for both NFR and after-NFR activities, photo galleries, and live statistics and scores.

Michael Mack, vice president of marketing for Las Vegas Events, said the NFR app saw almost 21,000 downloads last year, and that this year’s version will offer a few new functions. It also will link to 2010 NFR video and recaps.

Dining out is a means of entertainment for many of us, and smartphone app stores offer several apps designed to help us figure out where to find a good meal.

The popular Zagat guide ($9.99, for Android and BlackBerry) includes info and ratings for more than 30,000 restaurants, at least a few of which we have to assume are in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, LocalEats ($2.99, BlackBerry) gives diners recommendations about what the developers claim to be the “hand-picked best 100 restaurants in the top 50 U.S. cities,” including Las Vegas.

The app even can use the phone’s GPS function to find restaurants within 15 miles, and we like the developer’s promise that LocalEats includes “no national chain restaurants.”

Finding cheap drinks isn’t difficult in Las Vegas. But when you’re of a mind to avoid a casino, Happy Hours (free, BlackBerry) will offer details about happy hour specials all around town.

But for all of the actually useful apps we happened upon, we found an appalling few that simply allowed us to wallow in Las Vegas history and pop culture. That’s why we were so happy to stumble across Elvis Presley Tube Full ($1.62, Android). The app claims to link users to every Elvis Presley video available on YouTube.

We have to assume that includes his timeless performance of “Viva Las Vegas.” And, for that alone, this app would deserve a place on every Droid user’s phone.

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280.

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