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Tourists Use iPads and Other Digital Devices to Navigate New York City

Monday, January 14, 2013 - 11:00 PM

A simple stroll around Times Square is enough to show that iPhones, iPads and other smartphones and tablets have virtually replaced paper maps, guidebooks and even digital cameras among the tourists visiting New York City. 

Taking pictures near 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, Mickala Lappage of London says the 9.7 inch screen on her iPad is much easier to see than the small LCD panel on the back of a digital camera.

"With a camera, once you connect it to a computer, it could be blurry," she said. "On here, you can see if it's a good one or not straightaway."

It may come as no surprise that tourists use their 3G and 4G-enabled devices to pinpoint their location on Manhattan's street grid, book tickets to Broadway and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and post photos and updates to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

But some visitors, like Luisa Garcia of Coahuila, Mexico, are using social media and digital devices to find experiences and deals that a typical tourist might miss.

Garcia used the daily deals site Living Social to find a reasonably priced massage in Manhattan and Twitter to find a nightclub where she could party. A nanny in White Plains here for a year and a half, she's had a little more time to explore how technology can help her navigate New York than the average tourist. 

The extended stay even prompted her to use Facebook to find friends. 

"I see who lives in White Plains and is about my age and working at the same company," said Garcia, 19. "So I meet the friends in the mall, and I asked them, and now we are best friends."

The Soares family of Brasilia, Brazil, brought five iPads to New York for just six people. They've been using their devices to keep in touch with friends and family back home. 

"I use the messenger and the Skype," said Rodrigo Soares, 35. 

These days, most tourists carry do-it-all devices and no longer need to do things like ask for directions, but in New York, sometimes it's the tourists that get stopped on the street, for better or for worse.

And, there isn't a digital device in the world that can help when a salesman flags an unassuming tourist down in the street and belts out his pitch.  

"Now here's the deal, bro. Do you like stand-up comedy?" 

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