If you’re planning a trip, or maybe living there as an expat, these are the apps you’re going to want to have installed to your phone to get the most from your experience.
They are my
Top 10 apps for China
Takes pictures of text and converts them to English language. Used it quite helpfully on the train to Guangdong, it will have problems if your phone doesn’t have a good camera or if you’ve got shaky hands.
I went through the entire interpretation of the Chinese menu with a Chinese girl, and it got them all correct.
Can’t be bad!
Download at Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.embermitre.hanping.app.reader.pro
A little dictionary. Actually quite a large dictionary with many of the words you commonly hear and misuderstand are in there to look up and ponder in your spare moments.
You can enter in pin-yin or English for quick conversions and add to favourites.
I often use it where I can’t get access to Google Play services, (for one reason or another).
As a ‘static’ dictionary it’s hard to beat.
Kind of ubiquitous translation app. You’re going to need Google Services Framework to use it, that means, if you bought your phone from China, it needs to be rooted.
Put sentences in, get sentences out. Makes more sense that the average Chinese punter and will be your new best friend until your data connection goes down, at which point you will Q_Q.
Wifi analyser. Having done a little travelling around, I use wifi connection to save on connection bills, when I’m in a hotels etc.
Sometimes there may be a number of connections available.
This app will tell what connections are available, and which is the strongest.
It will also tell you which channel 1-14 the wifi is connected on.
If you’re setting up your own router at HOME, you’ll find this a useful feature.
Most routers are set to channel 6. You can appear clever and set yours to something else! (1 or 14 usually work the best). Your Chinese neighbors will see your connection, respect you, think you run against the crowd, then set theirs up the same.
If you regularly visit forums, you should know about this app. If you don’t know about this app, you should have it.
Lists posts chronologically, so you can see the latest posts. Also by category, if you wish to receive updates on one particular area.
You can track them and do many of the things you can online..
Not too heavy on mobile data usage.
Ever found yourself confused and heading down the wrong line?
Introduce a load of Chinese symbols, entry and exit numbers and illegible direction signs.
This is the Chinese metro.
Not always straightforward to find your way from a to be.
Explore is a metro-map for Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing.
It’s got a function which will tell you where to go, how to get there, and which exit to head for when you get off the train.
It also tells you approximate travel times.
Yes, Skype is available as an app.
Don’t expect it to work flawlessly, data calls won’t give you the same functionality as on your computer (unless you’re on the 4G).
You can keep up on messages and arrange to accept calls.
Ain’t great, but it does allow you to stay in touch with your SKYPE contacts.
What’s the weather, what’s the weather?
Set-up the weather widget on your home page, and hey bingo!
Tells me what the conditions are, rain, sun, heat etc. And it tells me the temperature.
If I want to know more, I can drill down to an hourly forecast.
Not always 100% accurate, light rain ain’t always ‘light’, but does allow you to plan.
Set-it-up for your favorite cities and destinations.
9) Amazon Appstore
For those people stuck in China with Chinese phones and no Western apps.
The last time I went on, they had changed it so you could only BUY apps from an APPROVED locale ie. the UK or the US. (Buy means even downloading the free apps).
Having said that, you’re going to need a VPN to go on and BUY the apps, (UK/US IP), then download them to your phone.
Limited compared to Google Play or IOS.
Probably the most valuable of all your apps.
It’s going to tell you where you are, (turn the GPS on), it’s going to tell you where to go next, (do a search), it’s going to tell you how to get there, (all the local transport links and times).
The destinations I want are mapped from my PC. Out ‘in the field’, it’s just as simple as navigating your way between the little stars or waypoints you created the night before.
Takes all the fun out of being lost. If you like that kind of thing.
In case you didn’t know, China is polluted.
Chinese used to cover this up, until an American in Shanghai inaugurated the PM 2.0 system.
The Government thanked him for it, then promptly revoked his visa.
The system remains. In China on any given day, your restrictions are weather, traffic, pollution.
Essential for residents of the bigger cities.
Ubiquitous money conversion engine.
Spawned of the internet, does all the live conversions. Alerts, stats, graphs etc. etc.
Know when you’re getting a great deal for your currency conversion and when you’re getting a bad one. Not that it’s going to do you any good, the Government control banking and exchange rates separately.
Still, nice to know and with the help of little graphs and things.
Attractions, hotels, bars, restaurants. All the things you’d find on the online version of the Trip Advisor in a slightly less functional format.
Has a ‘near me’ that allows you to get the best places to eat or drink depending on your taste and GPS status.
The validity of reviews has been under question for this site. Whether they’re honest or accurate or not, the number can give you a barometer on general popularity of attractions, restaurants and other things like bars, or themed or eateries of a specific type..
Through the larger travel site – Travel China Guide, the app allows you to research train times and book online, or through the app.
Tickets can be picked up at the station, or delivered for an additional charge.
I’ve booked tickets through the website and the app and the service hasn’t always been quick, but if you follow the instructions and are patient, it works ok.
If you don’t want to book online, you can check schedules and times before you arrive at the station.
Booking allows you to book accommodation from the cheapest, (beds in dorms), to the most expensive (5 Star hotels complexes), in locations across China.
Put your destination into the search, the number of guests and check-in/out times and dates. Results can be ordered by price, proximity to a landmark, review rating or special offer.
There’s a good selection.
Choose a few that you like, shop around for the offers. Booking is FREE. Cancellation is not.
Sends you an email with a Google Map and an address in Chinese.
Ever wondered what those nasty Chinese texts you’re receiving are about?
Snappea is a mobile phone management software.
It backs up Music, Photos, Contacts and Media. It also allows you to cut and paste directly from your phones SMS service straight to your desktop. This can give a direct translation of any Chinese messages you might receive on your desktop translation software.
Some of the other functions, like contact management, SD migration and app backup are useful also.
“What’s your QQ?”. Something you’re going to hear each time you meet a new lot of pupils if you happen to be an English teacher. Or a common social opening line or closing line.
QQ is an instant messaging service with a few bells and whistles, such as translation, multimedia support and cutesy-wootsey pictures, icons and faces that you can fire off to your friends and acquaintances.
Not restricted to the younger market; the Chinese have started to favor other IM services over this one and it may even seem a little blase or old hat.
Still, worth a mention.
The new QQ. Wi chat is by Tencent. It allows you to connect with others who have the We Chat app and send them instant text messages.
You can post them voice and video recordings. You can take pictures and post them on your time-line which contacts will be able to view and comment on.
It’s not a bad little social lubricant; you may find We Chat may help to stay in contact with contacts in a more ‘fun’ way than a traditional text message.
Keep tabs on flight schedules from the major Chinese flight hubs.
Up to date information of departures and arrivals.
Do searches, check on prices and make bookings through your mobile phone.
Last and favorite app for me.
This app will tell you how many satellites you’re picking up on. You need 11 to get a fix. It’s graphic display will tell you if there’s a chance you’re going to get a decent fix, or you’re wasting time and should move to a different location or simply turn it off altogether.
Once it’s locked, it can also tell you speed, direction and altitude.
Boosts the GPS features of your phone and adds some new ones.