Helpful apps for Illinoisans

May 22, 2014

It can seem like smartphones and tablets are a ubiquitous part of life–why not use them to get the most out of your Illinois experience? Here are a few cool apps for Illinoisans, though certainly not all of them. What other Illinois or Chicago smartphone or tablet applications do you use?


Illinois Government–$0.99

Illinois Government

Use this application to stay up to date to on General Assembly news and search for your district’s state representatives and senators to find their contact information, bios and sponsored bills. Available for iOS and Android.

Illinois Legislative Roster–Free

Illinois Legislative Roster

Search for state and federal Illinois legislators. Available for iOS.

Past Chicago History–Free

Past Chicago

See old photos and drawings of Chicago side by side with current pictures, read historical blurbs about the city, plot photo locations, explore historical maps and match old locations and photos with a new map of the city. Available for iOS.

Know Your Rights: Illinois–$0.99/Illinois Constitution–Free

Know Your Rights Illinois Constitution

Read the Illinois constitution. Know Your Rights is available for iOS and allows users to read the Illinois constitution side by side the United States Constitution. The Illinois Constitution app includes the constitution in Spanish and is available for Android.


WGN Traffic–Free

WGN traffic

From WGN-TV, live traffic information and interactive maps help Chicago-area commuters find the best driving routes, especially during rush hour. Available for iOS.

I-70, I-80, I-90 Road Conditions–Free


Updated traffic and weather information and alerts for interstates in Illinois. Upgrade within the apps for access to traffic cameras for $2.99. Available for iOS.

Transit Stop CTA Tracker–Free/$1.99

Transit Stop CTA

Tracks El trains and CTA buses to estimate arrival times at every station and stop around the city. Users can also save frequently visited stops to reference quickly. Choose between a free ad-supported version or a paid ad-free version. Available for iOS. Check out these CTA trackers for AndroidWindows, and BlackBerry phones.

Embark Metra–Free/iMetra–$1.99

Embark MetraiMetra

Users will find maps, Metra train arrival and departure information, routes, trip planners and service advisory alerts in both apps. Both available for iOS here and here. Check out these Metra tracker apps for AndroidWindows  and BlackBerry phones.

Chicago Bike–Free

Chicago Bike

Find the nearest Divvy bike station on a map or in a list. Available for iOS and Android. Check out this Divvy bike app for Windows.

Uber/Hailo/Taxi Magic–Free

UberHailoTaxi Magic

All three apps allow users to flag cabs from their phones based on a GPS location or address, track them as they get nearer and then pay using a credit card through the app so no money is exchanged in the taxi–the companies will email you a receipt. After the ride, customers can rate their drivers. Uber customers can also request a black car or SUV or an UberX, a ride-share service. Uber is available for iOSAndroid and BlackBerry. Hailo is available for iOS and Android. TaxiMagic is available for iOS and Android.



SpotHero compares open parking spots throughout Chicago based on proximity and price and then lets users reserve parking spaces from their phones. ParkWhiz also compares nearby spots based on price, and booking through the app can be cheaper than booking at the parking spot itself. Parknav will calculate the best route for drivers trying to find free, metered or permit parking and save parking locations so drivers can find their cars later. SpotHero is available for iOs and Android. ParkWhiz is available for iOS and Android. ParkNav is available for iOS. Check out Parking Panda for Windows and BestParking for BlackBerry.


Chicago Sun-Times Breaking News–Free

SunTimes Breaking

Access select breaking news stories from the Chicago Sun-Times. Available for iOS and Android.

Chicago Sun-Times: Today’s paper–Free


Access Chicago Sun-Times digital subscriptions. Available for iOS.

Chicago Breaking News–Free

Chicago Breaking

Free breaking news from the Chicago Tribune. Available for iOS and Android.

Chicago Tribune–Free

Chicago Tribune

Allows users to access Chicago Tribune digital subscriptions from tablets. Available for iOS and Windows.

RedEye Chicago–Free


Access RedEye news, train tracker and Metromix bar and restaurant guide. Available for iOS and Android.

Peoria Journal Star–Free

Peoria Journal Star

Get news from Peoria and surrounding areas and access the newspaper while offline. Available for iOS and Android.

Daily Herald–Free

Daily Herald

Access Daily Herald digital subscriptions for suburban Chicago news. Available for iOS, Android and BlackBerry.

State Journal-Register–Free

State Journal-Register

Springfield and state-wide news. Available for iOSAndroid and BlackBerry.

WGN News–Chicago–Free

WGN News

Breaking news alerts, live event streaming and news from WGN News. Available for iOS and Android.

NBC Chicago–Free


News, weather and traffic from NBC 5 Chicago. Available for iOS and Android.

Fox Chicago News–Free

Fox News

News and weather videos from Fox Chicago. Available for iOS and Android.

ABC 7 Chicago News–Free

ABC 7 News

Live streaming newscasts and Chicago news, traffic and weather video and alerts. Available for iOS and Android.


NBC 5 StormTeam–Free

NBC Storm Team

Radar, forecasts, current conditions, videos, live streams and severe weather alerts from NBC 5. Available for iOS and Android.

ABC 7 Chicago Weather–Free

ABC 7 Weather

Weather alerts are read out loud. Available on iOS and Android.

WGN-TV–Chicago Weather Center–Free

WGN weather

Maps, radar and weather forecasts from meteorologist Tom Skilling. Available for iOS and Android.


Chicago Bears–Free


The football team’s official app includes play updates, stats, breaking scores, video, photos, aggregated social media feeds and game schedules. Available for iOS, AndroidWindows and BlackBerry.

Chicago Blackhawks–Free


The hockey team’s official app includes stats, team standings, schedules, live scores, videos, photos, backstage content, player cards and push notification alerts. Available for iOS, AndroidWindows and BlackBerry.

Chicago Bulls–Free


The basketball team’s official app includes scores, schedules, stats, player bios and push notification alerts. Available for iOS and Android.


Chicago Free and Frugal–$2.99

Chicago Free and Frugal

Information about what’s free and cheap in Chicago, including free museum day schedules, free comedy show schedules, information about inexpensive sports tickets, free music event schedules, restaurant reviews, and free listings for books, classes and tours. Available for iOS.



ComEd customers can report electricity outages, view accounts and bill history, manage automatic payments and make one-time bill payments. Available for iOS and Android.

WiFi Free Illinois–$0.99

Free WiFi

The app offers a map of locations in Illinois that have free WiFi. Available for iOS.

Chicago Works–Free

Chicago Works

Make 311 service requests through the app. Available for iOS and Android.

Chicago Crime Watch–$0.99

Chicago Crime Watch

Users view a map of the city overlayed with crime location information, categorized by type of crime or location. It does not include homicide. Available for iOS.


Enjoy Illinois–Free

Enjoy Illinois

This app from the Illinois Office of Tourism offers information about events, restaurants, attractions and deals categorized based on location and type of attraction. Available for iOS and Android.

Illinois Lottery–Free


The official app from the Illinois Lottery allows users to buy lottery tickets, check jackpot amounts, check winning numbers, get winnings under $600 deposited directly into an Illinois Lottery account and request winnings be transferred into personal banking accounts. Available for iOS.

Lollapalooza 2014–Free


Users can access information about the Grant Park summer music festival, including info about acts, venues and maps. Available for iOS and Android.

Chicago Festival Finder–Free

Chicago Festival Finder

See lists of Chicago festivals based on location and date. Get directions to festivals and information such as cost, description and hours. Available for iOS.

Choose Chicago–Free

Choose Chicago

Allows users to compare costs of restaurants, entertainment and other attraction in Chicago. Available for iOS and Android.

Art Institute of Chicago Tours

Art Institute

This app provides 50 tour routes through the Art Institute using the museum’s “indoor positioning system.” Users are also able to customize tours based on types of artwork, location and duration. Available for iOS and Android.

Illinois Campgrounds Guide

Illinois Campgrounds

The app helps users find campsites within the state available for RVs and tents, sorted by location, amenities or campground type. Available for iOS.



NEXT ARTICLE: Chicago on wrong end of U.S. chamber Business Climate Index

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5. Want to tell your elected officials what you think about the state of government in Illinois? Use our Sound Off tool. 

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