Technology can often prove to be an expatriate’s best friend. When you’re far away from your native country using the internet to communicate with a familiar face can be a good way to stave off the blues.
However, sending a friend a funny video on Facebook is but a tiny snippet of what modern technology can offer. As an expat in a foreign land there will be many scenarios where technology and the internet will undoubtedly make your life a little bit easier.
A recent trend that has soared in both popularity and usefulness is the advent of the smartphone, and with it the advent of the app.
Smartphones like Apple’s iPhone and various Android devices are ruling the world of telecommunication, and with the amount of value they offer that should come as no surprise. One of the main factors that assist the rise of the smartphone are the thousands of applications, ‘apps’, that can be downloaded onto the phone itself. These apps are incredibly varied and range from the stupid to the essential. Along with your touch screen lightsabre you can also have a fully functioning satellite powered tom-tom, and also a nearby restaurant finder. Though the phrase itself is hackneyed, ‘having the world at your fingertips’ seems like the only fitting thing to say.
Having a killer arsenal of apps will assist the travelling expat to no end. However finding the best apps can be a chore, with thousands to choose from, many with countless competitors, how do you know which app is the best?
Top 5 Apps for Expats
Twitter is the latest social media success story and also an invaluable tool for staying connected with the world as it moves along at a breakneck pace. Don’t be fooled, Twitter is not just for teenagers. Used the right way, Twitter is essentially a bespoke up-to-the-second news feed. By ‘following’ the news sources and the individuals whose opinions and information you value, you will ensure that you are the first to know about any major developments around the world. Long before a journalist has the chance to write up a report, he will have undoubtedly broke the news on Twitter.
XE Currency is already tremendously popular with expats, and is rated as the best currency application available. Having such an app could prove to be an invaluable for the international expat. XE Currency allows you to make multiple ultra-fast currency conversions at the same time, and it refreshes its currency rates every 60 seconds to ensure that your conversions are always accurate.
Google Translate/Google Earth/Google Maps
One of the true power players behind the internet and the changing face of modern information streams is undeniably Google. Google recognise the power of mobile communications and apps, aptly so they have released a series of apps that will be of great use to international individuals. The latest app to fall under the Google banner is their Google Translate service. The usefulness of this app is clear in its title- it serves as a mobile translator and recognises over 50 languages. A feature here that sets Google Translate apart from its competitors is the voice activated feature, instead of typing in a word you simply have to say it and select the language in which you would like it translated.
Google Earth is another aspect of Google that will greatly assist globe-trotters and plane hoppers. Google Earth will give you information about any destination in the world, ideal if you’re touching down in a new location.
Google’s smartphone service also includes the unbelievably handy Google Maps. Google Maps is wonderful, you need never jot down hasty and confusing directions ever again, just type in your destination and Google Maps will lead the way.
Weather Pro is the finest weather app available, and having a fast, accurate weather service is vital. Weather Pro surpasses the in-built weather apps found on most smartphones due to some great features including hourly-updated forecasts and rain-radars.
A great tool for communication is the marvellous WhatsApp. WhatsApp allows you to send short instant messages for free to anyone else who has WhatsApp installed, ideal for keeping in touch with loved ones in a snappy fashion.