29 March, 2014

10 Must Have Apps Before You Leave For The Big Bad World

“Vices are sometimes only virtues carried to excess.”
-          Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Phones today aren’t just phones anymore. In the small (or big if you’re a Samsung user, pity be on you), devices you carry in your pockets are the modern lifelines of humanity. A phone is not only your means of contact with the rest of the world, but also your alarm, calculator, calendar, camera, contact list, messaging and music. Chandler Bing once proclaimed that phones bring you closer to people… who have phones. But I discovered the true potential of my phone while backpacking alone across Shanghai in the middle of the night.

So here I give to you the 10 apps which you must have before you begin your voyage of the world.

10.       Weather


Weather forecasts for a week might be deceptive. In this age of Global Warming and Arctic Winters, it’s impossible to be too prepared. You need something which can tell you about the weather on the go. There’s nothing like a handy weather notification which tells you how the weather is NOW! Ofcourse you can’t pack for it, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.

9.         Scheduler


When you’re out, you often have a strict itinerary to follow. Check-out times, trains, buses, metros. You don’t want people to wait for you nor do you want to be left behind. In the chaotic pit of information overload, this little friend helps you organize your activities and tells you when you can take that walk in the park you’ve been eyeing since you got there.

8.         Quick Notes


Suddenly you get a piece of information which you’d like to retain. An email-address, an advertisement, the name of the cute girl at the bar, a new idea of the next ground-breaking revolution which will give the world sustainable energy for the next 2 centuries… No matter what the thought is, it’s worth looking back at. But ofcourse you don’t have a pen and paper to note it down. And you don’t need it! Have an app which takes you 2 clicks to get to and note it down. We’ll stalk her on Facebook later.

7.         Recorder


But there’s not always enough time to type. You happen to make up a limerick in the midst of a crowded street. You don’t want to stand and type. You need something faster. And lo! Technology gives you the option of the recorder app. Just speak what’s on your mind and we’ll judge you later.

6.         Truecaller


No choices on this one. While traveling, you’ll be called by random people whom you just met along the way and chances are, you’ll be in the shower or the tube when they call. But you don’t want to spend your precious minutes calling a number you don’t recognize. Truecaller helps you decide whether to call back or not. Snowden might be mad, but then, who cares about privacy these days anyway.

5.         Social Media


For a lot of people today, traveling is just a means to post upside-down pictures of themselves on Instagram. We’re not judging, but if are enthusiastic about showing off, why not as soon as possible. Phones allow Facebook, Skype, Watsapp, WeChat, Snapchat, Viber, BBM and many more disgruntling services which a technologically challenged individual like me might not be aware of. So go for it and watch those likes build.

4.         Mail


You’re on in town. You’re sitting on the banks of Huangpu contemplating to quit your job. But the boss doesn’t care. He wants to know why you didn’t send out the documents due two days ago. Not being in the city is simply not an excuse anymore. Even you’d like to know did the guy from the publishing house respond about your manuscript. Love it or hate it, you have anxiety issues if you don’t check your email every 24 hours. This is one of the most can’t-do-without apps your phone needs.

3.         Browser


But having a mail service isn’t enough. You also want to check your Twitter feed. You also want to listen to the song buzzing in your head on Youtube. You also want to see the update on your Quora account. And there’s this guy who thinks you’re a jerk if you haven’t seen the crazy gif of a giraffe eating a candy bar. Your phone is connected to the internet, and the browser bridges the gap. But be careful, don’t miss out on the sights to see how candy becomes giraffe poo.

2.         Maps


In the day of urban cities equipped with GPRS satellites, it’s impossible to be stranded. All you need is to know where you are and where to head. And that becomes easy when you have a map which not only fits in your palm, but also tells you precisely where you’re standing and which is the nearest refuge. This is one app traveling without which is just foolish. But to be fair, the foolish traveler often makes room for more serendipity.

1.         Translator


Let’s face it! Less than a quarter of the world’s population speaks English. High chances that wherever you go, you are going to have language issues. It’s always advisable to have a translator. Most countries will offer one at $25/day. Mobile phones give it for free. Have this app downloaded and you’ll never have language issues again. Just be specific about what you type else you might end up eating worms when you ask for the “no meat” dish on the menu.

Vishal Gupta
(The Lonely Traveler)
February 2014