A cab-hailing smartphone app has been a New York holy grail for years—and a point of contention for yellow-cab owners, who fear its effect on their monopoly. The free app known as Uber arrived in New York in late 2011, having been tried out in San Francisco, and after a tussle with the industry, it is sticking with the black-car services. Within that limitation, though, it does exactly what you want it to do: You’re stuck in the rain on a Friday night, and instead of standing on a corner with your arm up, you log in and drop a virtual pin into a map and typically wait three minutes for a pickup. These being car services, rates vary and are higher than cab fares, ranging from $6 (for a basic car) to $14 (SUV) with charges of up to $5 per mile. (Payment, which includes the tip, is processed online.) Prices float with demand, and Uber’s PR took a hit after Hurricane Sandy, when there were numerous complaints of price-gouging; for what it’s worth, the app displays a lightning-bolt alert to indicate when there’s a surge in demand and includes a fare calculator allowing a user to see the additional charge (and decide whether it’s better to take the subway). Definitely get in the habit of doing the math before you dial in—but really, when it’s late and cold and you need to get from Morningside Heights to Williamsburg, $47 can feel very cheap.