A number of weeks ago we went on a vacation to Las Vegas, and I was curious to see if an app can replace a traditional tour book. I picked the most respected tour book I knew, Frommer's Las Vegas 2009 by Mary Herczog; and an iPhone/iPod touch app called Vegas Mate [iTunes Link] which trucks on years of experience and data from an established Las Vegas review site.
The Vegas Mate app sells for $4.99 and is almost wonderful. It provides a wealth of immediate information. From the Concierge button you can get current Las Vegas news. It's always interesting to read what's going on behind the glitz. There's a listing of all the events and shows, along with where and when they are playing.
The Nearby button uses the GPS function to give you a listing of the hotels, restaurants and activities with the closest ones displayed first.
Tapping the Hotels button gives you a list of hotels on or off the Strip or a full listing. Tapping on a hotel brings up a screen with information including basic cost, the nearest Monorail station and a fairly useless map with stick pins representing what's around, but no walking directions. Squeeze the screen and you'll get a lot of real estate on the map, but the unmarked stick pins didn't seem remotely useful.
What was useful was a history of each hotel, a live phone number, and a listing of all the restaurants in the hotel. Tap on one and it'll tell you if the place is open, a few paragraphs about each, a phone number and sometimes even a menu (which can take quite awhile to load using 3G). The most valuable part to me was user ratings of just about everything.
Since Ratevegas.com has been around for years, users post reviews and those show up in the app. This was useful since we found that the Criss Angel show was rated poorly by most all reviewers. We had advance tickets and the consensus was right on the money. We also found that the new house show at the Mirage, Terry Fator, who won the TV show 'America's Got Talent,' was terrific; although we had never heard of him, we bit, and it was one of the best shows we saw all week. This is very very good stuff.
Tapping on the Restaurant button delivers an alphabetical listing with a useful red or green symbol telling you whether the place is open or closed in real time. You can filter restaurants by cost from $ to $$$$$ which is just a rough indication, since there is no legend accompanying the dollar signs. Other information includes listings of shows and nightlife.
Update: An earlier version of this post noted that the app states that "most of the MGM/Mirage board are about to be indicted for insider trading." Further research pointed out that the information contained in the statement is three years out of date, so we have removed the offending statement. Our apologies to the MGM Mirage hotel and casino for this error.