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.
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, Kirusa.com. 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, Housing.com, 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 app, Doctor 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 mycity4kids.com, 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.
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