By Jason Snell
August 6, 2018 12:20 PM PT
Applications Folder: iExit Interstate Exit Guide
[Applications Folder is a column where we pick an obscure app in our Mac’s Applications folder, or somewhere on our iOS devices, and talk about why we use it. It appears in the monthly newsletter that goes to all Six Colors members. This post appeared in the May 2018 newsletter.]
I use Apple Maps and Google Maps and Yelp and they’re all helpful in finding places to go and how to get to them. But when I’m on a long drive on a freeway—where you’re from you might call them highways or turnpikes or motorways or who knows what else, we seem to have accumulated a bunch of different names for enormous expressways with limited exits and entrances separate from street traffic—the usual apps become less helpful.
Driving on the freeway is all about exits. If I’m driving on freeways for a few hours, I don’t want to search for what restaurants or gas stations or whatever are around me—I want to search for what points of interest are near the various exits along my route. And that’s what iExit provides. I’ve been using it for years, and it’s always been a vital aid when I’m sitting in the passenger seat trying to figure out when we’re going to break for lunch. We used iExit a lot as we drove from home through Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and back on our family road trip, and I just used it a couple of weeks ago to find lunch during a four-hour drive through California’s Central Valley.
iExit organizes its listings of restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, and other items of interest entirely around freeway exits—and tells you which side of the exit each establishment is on, and how far away from the off-ramp it is. The app automatically detects the road you’re on and which direction you’re going, and shows you what’s coming up. If you’re driving through sparse countryside, you can make decisions like if you want to stop for Subway in 20 miles or if you’re willing to wait an hour to get a better sandwich at Port of Subs. (When in Winnemucca, Nevada, visit the Port of Subs. That’s my single Winnemucca, Nevada travel tip.)
You can also set favorites in iExit. So on my phone, I’ve marked Starbucks, Subway, In N Out, Five Guys, and a few other stops that are acceptable to all members of my family. I can quickly toggle to view by favorites to see if any of our favorites are coming up soon, or if we’re out of luck.
I have to admit, I’m baffled why none of the mainstream Maps apps offer data structured around freeway exits, especially if they know what route you’re taking. It seems to be that it’s just a bit too different of a world view for those apps to truly understand. That’s fine—because there’s iExit, and it’s the app you want in your pocket if you know you need to stop for lunch in an hour or so, and want to know which exit is going to offer something to make every passenger in your car happy. Be sure to pack it for your summer road trip.
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