Update: This article originally featured 8 apps we think you should all have, we’ve since updated it to make it a bit more platform independent. Please note that not all apps are free and some might require an internet connection to work properly.
Living overseas as an expat can be very challenging with a whole myriad of different obstacles to get over. However, life may just become that little bit easier if you get out your smartphone and download one of these 8 great apps for expats.
There’s a wide range of apps out there that offer expats an opportunity to keep in touch with their friends and families back home. One such example is Viber. Viber is an application that allows iPhone users to make free phone calls to fellow iPhone users no matter where in the world they are. Providing you and the call recipient both have iPhones, then international calls using Viber or Wi-Fi are completely free of charge. Currently it’s iPhone only but Android and Blackberry compatible versions are coming soon.
Availability: iOS (Apple) devices only, Skype is available for both iPhone and Android
Measures – Units and Currency Converter
Can’t quite get used to the measurement systems in place in your host country? Measures helps you convert just about anything you can imagine, currencies (updated daily), lengths, weights, clothing sizes, temperature; You name it! it can convert it.
Availability: iOS (Apple) devices only
XE Currency is a very popular app with expats because it allows for very quick currency conversions and is capable of performing multiple conversions at the same time. The currency rates can refresh every 60 seconds meaning that you have the most up to date rate available at your fingertips. You can also program the app so that it automatically tracks the performance of a number of different currencies over time, great for expats who are investments in a variety of locations.
Google have recently rolled out their successful Google Translate website to iOS devices after launching it for Android devices last year. You can translate words and phrases between more than 50 languages with the ability to speak the phrase you want translating.
Availability: iOS (Apple) and Android devices though the Google Translate website should work on any device
iLingual is a fun app that steals your lips and transforms them into multilingual speakers. You simply take a photograph of your lips (or someone else’s’ for a bigger comedy effect), choose the phrase you would like to say in the foreign language and then hold your iPhone over your face where you lips are to create the effect that you are speaking the words. At the very least it will get a few laughs! The app is currently only available in French, German and Arabic. Availability: iOS (Apple) devices only
AllSubway is a handy app that provides metro/underground transport maps for 126 cities throughout the world. Each map is scalable and you can manipulate the screen to zoom in and find your way.
Availability: iOS (Apple) devices only, aMetro is available for Android devices
Finding your way around a new subway is one thing, the next step is finding your way around the city itself. Though Google Maps is great it does require an internet connection if you start wandering outside where you’ve been before. A great antidote to this is the CityMaps 2Go app from Ulmon Offline Maps. The app enables you to download offline maps to more than 2900 cities around the world with more being added each week. Depending on your connectivity it can even find your location and tell you which way you’re facing.
Availability: iOS (Apple) devices only, MapDroid is available for Android
If you’re looking for a more visual tour with a bit more assistance simply install the GPSmyCity.com app onto your iPhone. Then load the virtual map and follow the onscreen instructions to explore the city and learn more of its history. Each tour is categorised according to length and distance so you can fit your tours in around your schedule and explore at your own pace.
Availability: iOS (Apple) devices only
For newly arrived expats who are interested in exploring their host country on foot without being armed with an attention-grabbing tourist book, the Tourcaster audio walking tours offers walking tours in popular destinations throughout the world.
Availability: any device that will play MP3s
If you want something a bit beyond the built-in apps for your device of choice or the free multi-platform apps available (The Weather Channel). We really recommend Weather Pro, whilst their free app is great with 7 day forecasts, the real fun starts if you’re into your weather (or British like me!) with their premium offering to get hourly forecasts intervals and precipitation type radar feeds.
Availability: iOS (Apple), BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile 7 devices
Have you discovered any great apps that have made your life overseas more manageable? Please drop us a line and share details of them with our expat community.