The Vegas Touch

Las Vegas-centric smartphone apps offer a dizzying array of features, from augmented-reality viewers and simulated casino games to real-time traffic-camera video feeds. However, the best apps succeed simply by providing solid information quickly with few frills.

The maker of TravelVegas, the most popular Las Vegas-related iPhone app, recently introduced a new version for iPad and iPhone 5 users, but was careful not to mess with the simple interface that initially made the free app so useful. TravelVegas offers information on hotels, restaurants and attractions similar to what you can find on many websites (and identical to what can be found on, and is updated throughout each day with the latest specials on gaming, drinks, restaurants and entertainment.

TravelVegas is hosted and maintained in Pittsburgh, so I wondered how anyone could create a comprehensive Las Vegas app without living here. But when I spoke with TravelVegas’ creator, Brendon Schenecker, I learned that he travels here monthly and uses the app for his trips. As the name implies, TravelVegas is primarily for tourists, not locals, so perhaps it’s fitting that its creator isn’t from here. Nonetheless, the app can be useful for locals: The “deals” feature collects specials from across the Web, including from Facebook and Groupon.

TravelVegas generates commissions from some links within the app, but those links don’t overwhelm the others, and users are given equal information about everything. One thing visitors should note, however, is that the categorized information isn’t cross-referenced with the deals, so even when you find something you like, you should check the deals section separately to see if there’s a related coupon or other offer. (Schenecker says he expects to address this in a future version.)

Later versions of TravelVegas are expected to include Android accessibility, as well as more information about smaller restaurants and attractions. In the meantime, however, TravelVegas is already an excellent way to find deals throughout the Valley.

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Leading up to Wednesday's exhibition against Dixie State, Dave Rice and his players insisted that they were going to play to win the game. As it turns out, they had to. Dixie State was up to the task, grinding the Rebels down with precise offense in the second half and forcing an overtime period before UNLV finally prevailed, 81-80 on a last-second layup by Carlos Lopez-Sosa. The Rebels did not play well. They'll need to be much better on Monday night if they want to open the season with a win against Northern Arizona, and Rice said as much after the game.