Best Android London Cycle Hire apps

Park the petrol with Android apps that help find a bike near you from London's Cycle Hire scheme, which launches tomorrow around Zone 1

Make way for the foot-cycle! With London's Cycle Hire scheme launching tomorrow, bikes will be swarming over the capital like wheely ants, and app developers haven't been caught napping. There are already several Android apps available to help you find your trusty metal steed, and we've taken a look at each of them so you won't have to waste your pedalling energy.

If you have an iPhone, don't worry -- we've got you covered with the best iPhone cycle hire apps too.

Cycle Hire Widget (London)

This widget and app is just the kind of geek-tastic treat that's perfect for Android. Firstly, the widget shows your three nearest locations right on the home screen, with little arrows pointing the way there. Then you can tap to open the full app and see a list of hire spots showing distance, direction, number of slots and a crowd-sourced status report.

That means when you go to a hire point and grab your bike, you're meant to tap a button to let others know how it shapes up -- red for closed, orange for fewer than two bikes, amber for two or fewer slots, and green for A-OK.

Live status info for each bike park isn't provided by TfL, so this is the only app that aims to actually add info, which makes it one of our favourites. We also like that tapping a location launches walking directions in Google Maps, leaving the mapping to the master rather than trying to handle it itself. It could use a buff of its graphic design, but that's something we're used to in Android apps. It's also free, and we recommend you snag it before the developers are tempted to start charging.

Update: The app is now the first to grab live data from the TfL Web site on the number of bikes at each hire spot, which is a great addition to the crowd-sourced info. Also, if it has data from TfL that's less than an hour old, it won't bug you to provide the status of your hire point.

Price: Free
Search the Android Market or scan the QR code.

London Cycle Hire by Mob-Spot

Simply a map of locations, where you can zoom in and out, but not much more. The map shows your GPS location as a throbbing icon, but there doesn't seem to be a way to zoom there automatically, so it's up to you to find it on the map.

It's free, and it better be, because it's the weakest of the apps we tested due to its lack of features. It could suit you if you just want to keep it simple with a straight-up map and no strings.

Price: Free
Search the Android market or click this link from your phone

 

London Cycle Hire by Lock Stock

The smartest looking of the Android cycle hire apps, this one also throws in the funky feature that times your cycle ride and estimates how much you'll have to pay. It's not necessary if you wear a watch, but it's a good punt at innovation, especially if you find the rates for the cycle hire scheme confusing.

It also offers to find directions, although it just shows the route on the map rather than offering written steps to follow. 

Price: 50p
Search the Android market or scan the QR code

London Cycle

This app has potential, with a neat design that helps you scroll through bike hire locations that are nearby each other. Unfortunately, we had no luck getting it to find our GPS location, with the button simply greyed out all the time.

Not worth downloading until the developer sorts out its problems.

Price: Free
Search the Android market or scan the QR code

 

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