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App-solute zero!

Some of the most useful  tools  for your mobile  phone cost -- zilch! We  recommend the best free apps that  will make life easier in 2016

By Anand  Parthasarathy
December 28 2015: Three  tipping  points in the year gone by,  told us why the mobile phone has now become for Indians, their biggest tool for empowerment --  a potent combo of pizzazz and productivity:
One: In June, the number of  mobile phone subscriptions crossed 1 billion.
Two:  In October, 4G-ready  smartphones outsold  3G devices  for the first time.
And last week, the number of Internet users in India crossed  400 million, overtaking the US.
Together, they explain  why the  Net-connected handphone  has morphed into an agni asthra  in our hands -- thanks to  a vast array of  Android, iOS and Windows apps and solutions.  Ironically, the  best of these are  not priced tools -- and as we  head for 2016, let me share  some favourite  free apps, that will make life a little easier, cooler in the new year.  Remember, the apps are  all  free,   but  some offer some services that you would expect to pay for.

Lifestyle chat
The  world's most popular   mix of chat and messaging  --  n-gage  -- is now available in India -- with various fun and interactive features like ‘n-Cards’, ‘n-Stickers’, ‘Chat Makeovers’ and ‘Doodle Plus’. Users can create groups with up to 300 participants  and language is no constraint as n-gage enables communication  in over 45 languages with  a ‘Translate’ feature.

Voice as SMS
Why text when you can talk?  InstaVoice is  an the brainchild of  Dr. Inderpal Singh Mumick   and his South African  company, It lets you  send an instant Voice SMS to anyone in the world in ease, even while you manage your voicemails and  missed calls.

Free calls for rest of us
A free call app, increasingly popular in emerging markets has recently  beefed up its Android version and launched an edition for iOS. The app called nanu from Singapore, promises free calls to everyone, everywhere, even on 2G, and works where other  Voice over Internet calls demand   more bandwidth.

Messaging  without Internet or data plan
India's own messaging app  scored a world-first in 2015 when it launched  Hike Direct -- which  allows users to chat, exchange stickers, transfer photos and heavy files of any type, without the Internet & without incurring data charges. It allows mobile phones to connect with one another directly within a 100 metre radius completely by passing the telecom networks. Currently only on Android and available  in  eight   Indian languages, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu.

Job hunting  on mobile
Two  innovative Indian apps have extended the boundaries of  job search by harnessing the hand phone:

  • ePoise calls itself the world's first job interview app. You can directly  give  a video interview for jobs with the companies of your choice, on your smartphone, at your convenience, irrespective of location. Companies like  Infosys, mPhasis,  Flipkart,, Snapdeal, Inmobi and Vizury  arf hiring  via ePoise
  • Veuon Technologies  makes canny use of the  smartphone's GPS positioning to help job seekers meet job providers within a restricted area that could be as circle of 50, 30, 20 even 5 kms in radius.  With the Android app,  job seekers’ phone will list all the prospective job providers in their preferred region. They can send their CVs to the employers they select. Alerts or notifications are provided when a match is found. The service is free for candidates.

Health & safety
Of the many health aggregation services, I have found Practo to be one of the most comprehensive, with a nationwide spread. The app helps you find doctors in your city. You can also use Practo to book instant appointments , looking  up details like qualifications, consultation fees and  feedback from other patients. With some 200,000 verified doctors, labs and clinic profiles, you have a good choice.
Adding another notch to convenience,  a recent appDoctor Insta lets you consult a doctor  from the privacy  of tone's  home  -- through video and  audio. Doctors look, listen, and engage with the patients to diagnose and to offer effective treatment in 15-30 minutes ( cost around Rs 400), saving hours of travel  time
Safesavaari,  is a first of its kind safety mobile Android  application for passengers commuting by cabs, taxis and other privately hired vehicles, which  lets users send a live video of the journey over 3G Network / WIFI., after verifying the driver's antecedents  by capturing his biometric finger scan. There is also an SOS mode.  It is available in major cities but  needs the cooperation of the taxi agencies  to work.

Parenting : Family app
India’s first family organizer  app, is an online platform that helps parents search for activities and content related to kids with features like upcoming Events, Kids resources and Parenting Blogs.

Earn talktime
If you don' t mind downloading  time pass apps suggested to you and taking part in sureys, they might subsidise your mobile recharge
 Earn Talktime    is an ad funded wallet  which lets you  earn money  for each mobile application you download/install on your mobile. The money collected in your Earn Talktime wallet can be redeemed against recharge of a prepaid mobile connection or towards payment of postpay mobile, landline, DTH bills etc