We all feel like we know our local town or city like the back of our hand. Want to see a movie? We know the perfect place. Looking for a bargain? Let us point you towards the best outlets. Need directions? Here’s our top list of shortcuts.

What may surprise you is that there are more potential hacks to your local area than you could ever imagine, particularly when you add technology to the equation.

When you gotta go, you gotta go

Let’s start with that movie you wanted to see. You head down to your favourite funky independent cinema, purchasing a fizzy drink so large it appears to be served in a cardboard bucket with a straw. What you didn’t take into account is the epic run-time of your chosen flick, and the fact that your beverage is going to head-butt your bladder in about 45 minutes time. In this instance, the RunPee app might be the best 99p you ever spent. Identifying the movies showing in your local area via GPS, RunPee has a designated number of ‘Peetimes’ for each film. These flag up the slow scenes in advance, allowing you to dash out to use the facilities without missing any of the action. You’ll even get a short recap when you return to your seat. The cinema may not have a pause button, but this is the next best thing.

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Shop smart

Your handset’s GPS is also helpful when hunting out the best bargains in your area. There are numerous apps that use your location for nearby offers, such as Groupon, Wowcher, KGB Deals, Mighty Deals UK… in fact there’s so many that you may not have the time, handset capacity, or sanity to check them all out. Luckily, there’s only one app you really need. Redeemia checks the discount apps previously mentioned, as well as many more, offering all deals from all platforms in one easily digestible setup. This is particularly useful as it means less time browsing your handset, and more time browsing the real world.

Don’t get in a jam

On your way to or from your day’s activities, the one thing that you can’t control is the traffic. Previously, we were at the mercy of the traffic report, but we all know that by the time the update is broadcast, you’ve already hit gridlock.  Today’s technology can keep you one step ahead of your local radio station, giving you real-time updates as well as letting you advise other drivers too. Download Waze to your handset, and discover a community-based travel update service that aims to take the frustration out of getting from A to B. Not only will Waze provide all the latest info, it can re-route your journey, find the most low-cost local fuel stations, and let you share your ETA with anyone waiting at your destination. Tell us a local radio station that can offer that.

Know when to keep quiet

Unfortunately, your local journeys can’t all be fun days out, and occasionally you’ll have to go to work, attend meetings, and maybe even (heaven forbid) get called for jury duty. One bizarre news story recalls 46 court members being jailed by a US judge when no-one accepted ownership for a ringing mobile. You can avoid similar social potholes with Locale, an app that can be programmed to recognise your location, and act accordingly. Turn your wi-fi on when you get to work, or turn your ringer off in meetings or courtrooms, then enable everything when you get back home. At £7.99 on Android, this app may not be the cheapest on the market, but it costs less than bail.

Make yourself at home

With so many location-based opportunities already available, the next question may be, ‘What’s next?’ Currently, these services rely on your input to let them know what you need as you move around. What if there was a service that could track your location itself via your GPS, and act accordingly based on where you are? America’s WH Security is already tapping into these possibilities. Using Geo-Services, it’s possible for your smartphone to send communications to your home, letting it know to turn off the thermostat as you depart, and heat up when you return. If you’re away for the night, maybe you’ll want the lights to come on so it looks like someone’s home, or let you know if the smoke alarm goes off. These innovations are still in their early stages, but you can get in on the ground floor with Nest, the closest thing currently available in the UK. With Nest services installed, you can control the heat, lighting, and alarms of your home all from your handset. It may not be Tony Stark levels of technology just yet, but we’re certainly on the way.

Whether you see your local area as being your county, your town, or even your own living room, you’ll find that there’s a location based service ready to help, whatever your plans for the day.

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