The Definitive List of Must Have SXSW Mobile Apps

  • The yearly pilgrimage to Austin, Texas has begun – SXSW begins officially today and this year promises to be bigger and more jam-packed than any other experience to-date.

    With the Interactive, Film and Music conferences opening on the same day, the sensory overload to attendees could be extremely overwhelming, especially if this is your first voyage to Austin.

    Not counting the full days of panel discussions and exploring the expo hall, I recall from last year all of the evening festivities downtown and on 6th Street – nothing like playing kickball in the middle of the street at 11:30pm then going to ride a mechanical bull. I’ve got the video to prove it!

    Fun – yes, exhausting – yes, but overall, if you’re in any way involved in the technology or entertainment industries, SXSW is a must attend event.

    With that being said, I thought I’d provide a reference list of mobile apps for both the SXSW newbie and veteran to help make the coming 2 weeks more manageable.

  • We all know about the Twitter and Foursquare launches of past SXSW conferences. That’s what every single startup in attendance is striving for. Everyone’s got that next killer app that you can’t believe you’ve lived this long without. Keep that in the forefront of your mind – that in mind as a conscious goal of the majority of companies exhibiting and roaming the expo floor. That being said, here is an unbiased list of apps that you really want to have loaded on your smartphone.


  • Kismet 199x300
  • Kismet helps you easily meet new people around you. The app provides suggestions on WHO you should meet, WHY you should meet them, and who you know in common.

    Of primary value at an event like SXSW is the ability of Kismet to create “pop up events,” which can then be discovered by other app users who are nearby.

    I really like the fact that each user profile in Kismet is based on their information imported from Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, and other popular social apps.

    Having the ability to checkin to both Facebook and Foursquare directly from within Kismet is also a handy feature.

    Currently Kismet is only available for the iPhone.


  • Glancee 209x300
  • Glancee centers its connection recommendations around your Facebook profile. Glancee will rank people by their distance to you and your common interests (as listed in your Facebook profile).

    In the latest update, just released yesterday, Glancee introduces their Radar and Diary feature. Radar shows you who’s near you now, sorted by distance and Diary shows you who was near you before, sorted by time.

    Glancee works on iPhone, Android, and within Facebook.


    There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Highlight. Many of the tech pundits are swearing that this will walk away with the best app crown this year. Similar to Glancee, Highlight pulls recommendations from your Facebook profile. But Highlight is different in that, if someone standing near you also has Highlight, their profile will show up on your phone. You can see their name, photos of them, mutual friends, and anything else they have chosen to share.

    Now if that description causes you to raise an eyebrow in concern of your privacy, that concern has been duly noted by the Highlight team and from what I understand they are looking at implementing some stronger security measures within their app.

    Currently Highlight is only available for the iPhone.


    Stamped is a hyperlocal recommendation engine. The idea is to share with your friends the restaurants, movies, books, music and more that you like and that you have put your stamp of approval on.

    Just in time for SXSW, the Stamped team has collaborated with The Austin Chronicle and they will be adding their “stamp” of approval on their favorite restaurants around Austin. I could have used this last year when looking for a great Tex-Mex restaurant.

    Stamped is cool because it integrates with apps and social web destinations you probably already use (iTunes, Fandango, Opentable, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter).

    The latest update to Stamped focused on improving the user experience of their maps feature; now you can choose to see just your stamps, stamps from you and your friends, stamps from friends of friends, and the most popular stamps for the area.

    Currently Stamped is only available for the iPhone.


    INTRO is all about making new business connections. Most of the apps I’ve mentioned thus far use either Facebook or Twitter profile to make recommendations for people around you to meet. INTRO, however uses your LinkedIN profile.

    Yes, there will be people in Austin for the next 2 weeks looking to do serious business and not just hanging out at the Jay-Z concert or at TechKaraoke. So yes, INTRO is a worthy contendor for you to consider.

    What really intrigues me about INTRO is that, along with the general business networking functionality, it is also geared towards helping job seekers and employers find each other very simply. If you’re a recruiter, enter the skill set you’re looking for and INTRO will scour the registered users for what matches your requirements. If you’re looking for that next great career opportunity, have your LinkedIN profile up-to-date and let INTRO match you with jobs that match your resume.

    Intro is available today on the iPhone, there are Android and Windows Phone versions coming soon.


    Peer to peer car sharing and local car rental, that’s the premise of Getaround, the company that was started less than 2 years ago by Jessica Scorpio when she had the brilliant brainstorm to not only make a profitable business, but to also do something good for the environment.

    Think about it, car owners invest huge amounts of time and money into an asset they barely use. Cars are driven only 8% of the time, while potential drivers walk past block after block of underutilized cars. That’s where Getaround comes in…to help people get around.

    For SXSW, the San Francisco based Getaround has branched out resources to Austin and is pointing attendees to their mobile app and letting drivers rent a car by the hour, day or week.

    All Getaround rentals include insurance, 24-hour roadside assistance, and a Getaround car-kit.

    Other honorable mention apps to consider and install if you don’t have them already are:


    Path has become my default cross-platform checkin app. Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Foursquare – all in one beautifully designed app. You can share short videos and photos within Path as well.

    Recently Path released an update that not only improved on a number of the photo filters, but also integrates with the Nike+GPS app. So while you’re walking miles up and down Austin, you can have Path chart out your journey.


    If you’re on Twitter, you need StreamBoard. If you intend to follow any hashtag or want to filter discussions on Twitter, you need StreamBoard, period.

    This app does an awesome job of allowing you to put a laser focus on a particular hashtag (like #SXSW) and see a real-time stream of everything people are saying in relation to that hashtag.

    Now obviously, with an event like SXSW that stream could become overwhelming as it scrolls through. StreamBoard allows you to add filters to only show tweets from people with a certain number of followers, from within a particular location, or even if you only want to see English language tweets.


    For those of us that report the news, taking notes, snapping pictures, and updating Twitter at a conference while still trying to pay attention to what is being said during a panel can be quite tricky.

    Evernote is must have app that allows you to record audio and video while simultaneously jotting down your notes. After you’re done with your notes and recording you can sync the note in the cloud to your Evernote account. If you’re working with team members, Evernote allows you to collaborate and share your notes with others.


    Everything Flipboard does if high quality. While in Austin, find their red couch and get your picture taken. More than likely it’ll be featured in their app and you’ll be famous for a minute, and look going at the same time.

    This year Flipboard also has launched a special section within their app that will include all of those red couch photos, recaps from a number of panels, concerts, and interviews.

    If you’re looking for something to eat Flipboard will have you covered there as well as there is the SXSW “Eat Sheet” from CHOW sharing local Austin news and suggestions for great restaurants.


    Last, but certainly not least is the official SXSW app. I’ve been to a number of conferences that have crappy apps, but SXSW has got probably the most intuitive, and comprehensive mobile app I’ve seen in a long time (kudos to the development team).

    The expected schedule of events is available with times, locations, and topics. Each conference (Interactive, Film, and Music) have their own dedicated sections so there’s no confusion when you’re trying to decide if you should go to the Austin Convention Center or to the Driskill Hotel Ballroom.

    The SXSW app also has direct links into all all the social media platforms that are part of the conference. You can easily get to the pages for Google+, Facebook, and YouTube.

    Well that’s it. I know, it’s a lot to digest, but trust me, you’ll be glad that you landed in Austin prepared with some great apps to keep you from getting lost, keep you entertained, and keep you connected.

    Have fun!