Recent years have seen the rapid growth of mobile communication and more recently smart phones and apps. Many higher education students are active users of mobile devices. But how might we approach ‘learning the networking city’? In this paper we reflect on the negotiation of a mobile app for cultural mapping of the networked city developed as part of a large design research project into social media and the city. The negotiation took place as part of an international master’s level class of students of urbanism, architecture and design. The app called Streetscape was developed and trialled as part of a large funded research project into social media and the city. Drawing on research on mobile design, sociocultural learning theory and assemblage theory we describe the process and outcomes of the students’ strategies for redesigning a cultural mapping tool. In summary, we found that the app stimulated learning in three broad ways: 1) as a device for ways of looking at the city, but also for exploring the city, 2) as a means to thinking about design potentials for design intervention, and 3) as offering ideas about alternative and future ways of reading and mapping the city.