Russia Direct handpicks the mobile apps for iPhone/iPad and Android that are English-language friendly and should absolutely be on your mobile device while you visit Russia.
Moscow. Photo: Lori Images / Legion Media
1. Google Maps, Yandex.Maps and Apple Maps
Google Maps - Free/ iOS/ Android/
Yandex.Maps - Free/ iOS/ Android/
Apple Maps - Free/ iOS/ (Installed on iOS devices with purchase)
Google Maps is a very accurate app which builds routes and gives directions for driving, walking and using public transportation.
Yandex.Maps does the same, plus it shows you traffic levels rated from 1 to 10. If the traffic level is at five right now, it is better to use public transportation if you need to be somewhere on time. Yandex also has a great search feature which offers a menu of nearby bars, restaurants, fast food locations, gas stations, drugstores, etc. The app gives you basic information about the location plus directions on how to get there.
Apple Maps is great if you are looking for walking directions, or using public transportation directions, or driving directions with turn-by-turn navigation. When you choose a public transportation option, Apple Maps connects you to the routing apps, including Yandex.Maps and Google Maps.
Walking directions are the best with the Apple app. As for the turn-by-turn navigation, it works fine except Siri has troubles pronouncing Russian street names, not to mention that most street signs in Moscow are written in Cyrillic.
Yandex.Metro - Free/ iOS/ Android/
Yandex.Metro is a must-have app similar to HopStop. It builds the most convenient metro route based either on your current location or the station name you type in. The app does not require an internet connection so you can use it on the go. You can get an estimation of your journey time and find out which carriage to sit in to avoid lengthy walks to the other end of the platform.The only disappointment is that station names are written in Cyrillic.
Find your way around Russia’s capital without a hitch. Photo: ITAR TASS
3. Yandex.Taxi, Get.Taxi and Wheely
Yandex.Taxi - Free / iOS/ Android/
Get.Taxi - Free/ iOS/ Android/
Wheely - Free/ iOS/ Android/
Yandex.Taxi and Get.Taxi are two very similar apps that allow you to order a taxi based on your current location or address. You can use the option “Get Taxi Now” or indicate a specific time. You can choose the best rates (economy, comfort or business) and mark that you’d rather get a ride with a non-smoking driver. Depending on the taxi company that picks up your order, you can pay using cash or Visa/MasterCard.
Wheely is an app specifically for the business traveler. It promises “a private driver” type of service and Wheely delivers just that. The driver will arrive in a short amount of time in a business class type of car. You can also make a reservation for later. Most drivers are non-smokers and wear business suits while cars are clean and nice. You connect your credit card to the app, and it will be charged immediately after the trip. You get a receipt by email.
iTranslate - Free/ iOS/ Android/
While there are not any full-service Russian dictionary apps for the business traveler, iTranslate conveniently translates words and phrases and reads them for you. It gets tricky if you need to translate some complex sentences. The app has a “Read Phonetically” option available with 3-month ($1.99) and year-long ($4.99) subscription options. The app does not work offline, which can be inconvenient.
5. City Guides: Best in Moscow and TimeOut Moscow
TimeOut Moscow - Free/ iOS/ Android/
Best in Moscow - Free/ iOS/
Best in Moscow is the only city guide you might need in Moscow if you are here just for a few days. Available in English and Russian, it is easy to use as it has three chapters: Eating and Drinking; Shopping; and Things to Do. For city attractions, descriptions have address and phone number, business hours, ticket prices and suggestions on what exactly to pay attention to. For restaurant lists, the app gives you information on address and phone number, a couple of dishes and drinks you should try, and the price of an average check.
The TimeOut Moscow app will automatically pick up your default language for the interface, but the content is in Russian only. The app has options of suggestions based on your location, an “Inspire me” feature (a random choice of an activity for the evening), Top 10 picks, and Favorites. The good thing about this app is that it redirects you to Apple Maps to show where the venue you chose is located. Unfortunately, it does not allow you to create directions for how to get there. This app is not nearly as useful as Yelp (which unfortunately does not work in Russia) since it does not provide you with real customer reviews, but it does show you location photos.