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Get out there: 3 new iPhone apps that encourage you to leave the house

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 27, 2013 11:03 AM

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Three new locally-crafted apps worth checking out as the summer draws to a close. All of them are free, but only available for iPhone (at least for now).

Yonder, from Green Mountain Digital in Woodstock, VT

Yonder is a social app that guides you to outdoors-y activities near you, or let you visit far-off destinations vicariously. Thanks to your phone's GPS technology, you can find parks and reservations close to you, like Chestnut Hill Reservation (right). Yonder's filters let you hunt for ideal places for different kinds of activities, like kayaking, hiking, or birding. And of course, you can use the app to take pictures or videos of your adventures and share them with other Yonder users, adding comments about hidden grottos or your favorite picnicking spot.

CO Everywhere, from the start-up that previously built Block Avenue in Boston, MA

CO Everywhere asks you to choose some places you care about — maybe Tufts University, maybe Fenway Park — and then provides you with a feed of what's happening in that neighborhood. It might be a special deal being offered by a retailer or restaurant, or Instagram pictures from a street fair, or events being posted on Eventbrite or Zvents. You can also draw your own boundary around where you live, work, or rent a ski house to keep tabs on what's happening nearby. It's fun to see Instagram photos posted by the weirdos who live around you, and also to keep tabs on who's playing at local music venues. There is a way to "mute" certain information sources — after a while, those fun photos start to crowd out the useful stuff — but I haven't yet figured that out. CO Everywhere reminds me a bit of Spindle, an app developed in Boston, acquired by Twitter, and then shut down. (Twitter just wanted the engineering team, apparently.)

Racut, from Racut Inc. in New Bedford, MA

Racut's tagline is "social networking without the commitment." That is, you don't have to set up a profile or prod every contact in your address book to start using it. Racut seems to be focused on letting you chat with people who are in the same place as you — Gillette Stadium, for example. But that requires that a group of people in the same place are actually using the Racut app at the same time, which will be the biggest obstacle for the startup. I could imagine it taking off on college campuses, though, or if a bar or conference venue promoted it to patrons as a way to schmooze digitally.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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