10 Popular Mobile Apps At SXSW 2012

Must-Have Mobile Apps At SXSW

South by Southwest (SXSW) has been a springboard for musicians, film makers, and mobile developers for years, and 2012 was no exception. The Austin-hosted event this week was abuzz with mobile apps – some new and some that have been around for years – that helped attendees do everything from exchange business cards to being crowned "Mayor."

Here are 10 mobile apps that were a must-have for SXSW-ers this week.


SXSW GO, as its name suggests, is the official SXWX app. Users can turn to SXSW GO to build and view their own personal event schedules, refer to venue maps, search for exhibitors or sessions, or even view profiles of fellow attendees for up-to-the-minute and on-site networking.

SWSX GO also arms users with a one-stop-shop for keeping tabs on all event-related Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and YouTube posts. The app is OS-agnostic, available for download on Apple, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices.


DigitalTrends.com pegged Highlight as the app that has ’stolen SXSW.’

Said to provide users with a ’sixth sense’ for networking and finding new connections, Highlight is paving the way toward a new social genre dubbed SoMoLo or ’social, mobile, local.’ The app, which is available on iOS for free, automatically feeds the profiles of nearby Highlight users to your mobile device, allowing you to see their name, photos, mutual friends, and any other information they have chosen to list.

Highlight is constantly active on your device and feeds you new information about the people around you throughout your day. If a friend is nearby, it will tell you. If a ’hidden connection’ is nearby, it tells you that too.


The increasingly popular ’check-in’ app foursquare was first introduced at SXSW 2009. And four years later, it was still one of the hottest apps at the Austin-hosted event.

With foursquare, which is available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone, you can post check-ins from any location or venue you visit to more easily meet up with friends. You can create personal "To Do" lists for specific venues, and post venue "Tips" for other users to see. Checking in at a specific location more than any other foursquare user over a 60-day period crowns you the ’Mayor’ of that location.

According to the foursquare founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai, 5 million people worldwide are using the app and over 1.5 billion check-ins are posted each day.


Hungry for some authentic Texan cuisine? Well, there’s an app for that.

Any event-goers growing tired of SXSW’s food selection can turn to AustinFoodCarts, an iOS app that locates the city’s nearest street food vendors. ’Trailer, cart, truck, silver bullet, wagon, we got em’ all,’ boasts the AustinFoodCarts’ Web site.

The creators of the app have a passion for street food, which they say is some of the best and freshest in Austin. You can use AustinFoodCarts to locate on-the-go food vendors, read up on what kind of food they serve, and even check out their hours.


A finalist in SXSW’s Community Interactive award, Trover is a new social networking app that helps you uncover and share nearby ’hidden gems,’ ranging from restaurants, to historical sites, to hiking trails.

The free Androind and iOS app is a visual one that invites you to snap a picture of your newest ’discovery’ and share it with other Trover users. You can scroll through a growing number of places and things hosted on the app to take virtual tours of a particular neighbor, town, or state. If you see a particular discovery that piques your interest, simply click on it to see user reviews and its exact location.

Tover even provides you with the directions you need to get there.


Amidst all the music, film, and mobile buzz, some SMSX attendees still need to get down to business. And for that, there’s Hashable.

A networking app that allows you to exchange virtual business card and keep track of meetings and calls, Hashable is the business user’s go-to tool. Can’t remember how you know a contact? The iOS and Android app provides a scrollable history of your relationship with each stored contact.

Hashable gives a leg up to even the most forgetful user by synching with calendar and email reminders, and even sending follow-up reminders to a contact after a meeting.

Instagram (for Android)

Instagram is an iPhone photo app that lets you transform the look and feel of a picture. Perhaps its biggest claim to fame is its ability to morph photos into a style reminiscent of those taken with an old Poloraid camera (remember? The ones you shake?).

Well, now Android users have access to that old-school photo-making fun too, according to a report from The Verge that came out of this week’s SXSW.

Instagram's Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger told The Verge that an Android version of the app is coming "really soon." Systrom showed off a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running a prototype of the Instagram app on stage, and told the crowd "it's one of the most amazing Android apps you'll ever see.’


Anyone who has ever tried to make plans with a big group of people – especially when they’re scattered throughout an event as huge as SXSW – knows it can be tough. But, luckily, that’s where GroupMe comes in.

The free app, which works on iOS, BlackBerry, and Android, allows you to assign contacts to specific groups (for example, "family," "roommates," or "SXSW friends") so you can ping them all at once and quickly. When you want to start a conversation on a particular topic, but aren’t sure who’s interested, you can start an Open Group for others to join.

Private conversations are still possible with the app, and the GroupMe team said it’s just like free texting. You can "send all the messages you want, and you’ll next pay a cent."


Another SXSW finalist, this time in the Social Media Interactive category, Stamped is a free iOS app that lets you ’stamp’ your favorite things, including restaurants, books, movies, and music, to share them with friends.

The unique spin on Stamped is that your recommendations are only shared with people you know, and vice versa. "No noise, no strangers, just the people you trust and the things they love," the app web site boasts.

You can even organize all the stamps you’re eyeing via a To-Do list, view a map of all your friends’ stamps to see if anything is nearby and, of course, share your stamps on Facebook and Twitter.


Sometimes a text message just takes too long to type. And sometimes a phone call just seems like too much of a commitment. Well, for any time-conscious commitment phobes at this year’s SXSW, HeyTell was the go-to app.

Think of HeyTell as a walkie-talkie. The free iOS and Android apps allows you to send brief voice messages to fellow HeyTell users by simply pushing a button that says ’Push to Talk.’ Have something to say after-the-fact? Just send a follow-up voice message and rest assured that your HeyTell buddy will receive all your messages, in the order in which you sent them.

You can spice things up by sending a voice message to a wider group of friends, or adding effects to your voice. "I feel like a kid again with HeyTell," said Techcrunch’s MG Siegler in his coverage of the event.

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