Our favourite Indian apps. What would we do without them?
Not long ago we used to wonder why anyone wanted a smart phone if all you really need a device for is to talk and to text. But now we know better! In fact, we are slightly app-addicted at the MBRB HQ. If it’s free we download it. If it’s not free but potentially interesting, we download it too. If it’s neither free nor potentially interesting, but comes in bright colours we are likely to download it as well.
While the little one whiles away her time on My Talking Tom (feeding him too many doughnuts for my liking) and the wonderful Sesame Street ABC App, the grown ups are partial to calendar apps, fitness monitors (neither of which get used too often after the first airing), and Flipboard.
Of late though, we’ve been on an Indian Apps spree. There are so many wonderful Indian Apps with desi sensibilities (and really interesting features) that we can’t help downloading and using them all. It has to be said though, that there is also a lot of dreck out there. Apps that haven’t been updated in ages. Terrible interfaces that make your phone hang thrice over. And some suspect copyediting.
Here are some of our favourite apps in the market.
Saavn is the Queen of Indian apps. It has an easy interface, a great collection of Indian music (and not just Bollywood!) and some rather nifty features- such as a weekly Top 15 list that is especially handy if you are otherwise “out of it” and want to know what the young uns are listening to these days!
If you don’t mind logging in using Facebook you can also create your own radio station, get recommendations, save a few songs offline (and hence not have to rely on wifi when on the road) and mark particular songs as your favourite. If we had one minor quibble it would be the comparatively thin library of Indian classical music and old Bollywood music.
Available On: iOS, Android, WAP as well as a web version
Prepare to waste a LOT OF MONEY on this one. Did you know that over 300 of your childhood Amar Chitra Katha’s are available in App form now? Our fondness for them has dimmed over time and quite frankly we find some of the older titles problematic. But there’s still plenty to love there , and with prices starting at just $0.99 per title, you can indulge the kid in you by downloading one for every train station in a long journey, just like during the summer vacations when you were 12!
Price: $0.99 per title
Available on: iOS, Android and Windows 8
Quite simply the best app for traveling across India, we especially enjoy its wonderful audio tours across the country. Overall the quality of content and presentation on this app is exceptionally high.
Just download , put on your earphones and get lost in a place or route of your choice – be it the the Taj Mahal or the Elephanta Caves or a walk staring at Bollywood Star Homes. We love the easy-to-understand accents on the tours, the excellent visuals, and the overall simplicity of the app. We also appreciate how each of the tours/routes has been helpfully timed to help you choose one based on your schedule.
Price: $1.99 per tour, though a lot of the information is also available with the free Audiocompass guide
Available on: iOS, Android
What a simple and powerful idea this is! See an open pothole, uncollected garbage or any other civic issue? Just click a picture, and add a small description along with the location and submit! The app ensures that the problem reaches the relevant Governmental Agency. The agency in turn gets its own dashboard to track open issues, resolution and other metrics.
Started by the Ahmedabad Global Shapers, this new app doesn’t have too many downloads too date, but one hopes that with sufficient scale it can make a significant impact to the citizen-government conversational channels!
Available on: iOS, Android
We are old fashioned enough to still feeling a frisson of excitement when using GPS! And the best way to take road trips across India is not with Google Maps but with the wonderful MapMyIndia app. With granular details – including local ATMs, restaurants and shops- and an easy interface, this app works just as well as for long distance road travel as it does for finding a new place in your city. The NaviMap version also includes offline capabilities so you dont need to worry about whether the 3G network works in the region or not.
And the accompanying Reach Me app lets you ‘share’ a location with a friend, so that the next time you throw a party, you can just ‘share’ the location with the attendees instead of taking their calls all evening.
Price: Free. Pro version for lifetime fees of Rs. 599
Available on: iOS, Android, some features also available on Blackberry and Windows Phone
This is a remarkably simple concept from the people over at Code Conclave. Get into a taxi or an auto and enable the GPS to find out exactly how many kilometres you are travelling. Convert the metered amount to actual fare when you reach your final destination, and ensure you aren’t left feeling cheated.
There have been subsequent versions for other cities but the original MeterDown from Mumbai remains the one with the nicest interface.
Available On: iOS, Android, WAP
These apps let you book a cab, AND trace your cabbie’s route from the moment you book him till he makes it to your door step. (no more roomba traffic excuses).
Love it! Can’t live without it.
Available on: iOS, Android, Blackberry, WAP
KidoSphere has some absolutely delightful children’s apps made with Indian kids in mind. We love their PreSchooler Colour me which can basically keep a child busy for hours on a flight or long car ride, and their Hindi teaching apps- our favourite of which is a simple interface to teach children their first 100 hindi words.
They’ve also done a bang up job in converting some classic children’s books into apps, including house favourite The Runaway Peppercorn in a nice dual-language interface.
Price: The apps are for $0.99 each. The books start at $2.99
Available on: iOS
Ahh the joys of the morning newspaper! Ever since I can remember our morning reading ritual at home included one English paper, one Business paper and one Hindi one. And our favourite part of the Newshunt app is the access to those vernacular newspapers of our childhood. And just as we immediately ran for the sports paper and then the (ahem) Bollywood section as a kid, we can add those two categories to our favourites here, ensuring all newspapers open up at that page!
The NewsHunt app is easy to read, works perfectly well even in dodgy networks (I am looking at you ESPN Cricinfo- you are so beautiful but you take forever to load) and may just be the Indian answer to Flipboard!
Available on: iOS, Android, Blackberry
Have we missed anything? Tell us in the comments below. We are always looking for new ideas (and new apps!)