Top 5 Expat Apps! For FREE!

“Why are you always wearing your headphones?? You look like you work in logistics” my lovely husband threw at me on a busy Saturday morning in a crowded mall. We are truly inseparable, for better or worse (my phone and I), and here are my Top 5 Free Expat Apps in answer to my better half’s rhetorical question:

  • “Our Amazing Norway”. This is a new magazine addressed to Expats living or wishing to live in Norway. It’s free, and the first edition gives you a fun and well documented insight about the “essentials” of the Norwegian culture: weather, food, places to hang out, education and more. It also has articles on how to make friends or finding a job and the Classifieds section has a good selection of services available for expats. It’s illustrated with beautiful pictures and the app just makes it easier to read whenever you want to.
  • “World customs and Cultures”. This app gives you quick facts about nearly any culture in the world. It covers the basics like “Communication Style”, “Views on Time” and “Personal Space” (very brief facts of course). What I liked most were the fun facts such as “Taboos”: did you know that lifting your hand making a horn sign is very rude in Norway? Or that it’s better to point with your whole hand instead of your finger if you don’t want to be rude? The app also offers random cultural facts on any country, which is quite fun and surprising. The only thing I miss is a section about business; for example the main negotiation “must dos” or “big no-nos”. Available on Android Market and Apple’s App Store.
  • “Viber” & “WhatsApp”. You probably know them already. I love Viber but the quality of the conversation is often bad (especially when on the move) and the other person needs to have it too. WhatsApp is cool because the other person doesn’t need to install it, but the down side is you can only send messages, you can’t call. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of both :                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Google Goggles. You are walking through the streets of Paris where every sign, building and church has an interesting story to tell. Imagine you could take a picture of everything you see with your phone and it automatically gives you information about it, becoming your guide. After your long walk, you sit at a restaurant. You have no clue what to order and the waiter’s poor English and bad temper are not helping. You remember suddenly that you can take a picture of the menu and your phone gives you… a translation! Dinner is almost over but before you go you really would like to know where the wine comes from and where to get it, but are too shy to ask the waiter. Take a picture! Your phone will tell you exactly what you need to know! I am not joking; this is what Google Goggles does. You can also take pictures of books, videos, logos and many more! Love it!! Available only for Android until recently, now also available for iPhone!
  • TuneIn. This is my latest and most amazing discovery. This App gives you access to radio stations all around the world. I find myself on the tram in Oslo listening to the same radio I used to listen to in El Salvador when I was 15 years old! And it’s not just the music, it’s about listening to my people and my accent and the commentator’s jokes, which make me feel so close to home. Radio is a fantastic way to stay up to date with current events and politics. If you want to learn about a country you are about to move to, you can find a station through the “Most popular”-section and get a flavor of the country and its social climate. I absolutely love it and I am sure that as an Expat you will love it too!! Available on Android Market, Apple App Store and many more.
  • Hope you like’em!

    3 Responses to Top 5 Expat Apps! For FREE!

    1. Gary Green March 23, 2012 at 06:29 #

      A wonderful blog as always. I appreciate any and all help surviving here.

      But, of course, a couple things.

      Google Goggles is part of the Google Search app on the iPhone, searching for it on the App Store will get you nowhere. I never used it and now I will start. Thank you very much for making me aware or what I was wasting.

      I’m just wondering about the TuneIn app. That would suck up a lot of bandwidth, I’d think. If you were connected via wifi it aint no thang, but if you are out and about I would think your telecom would have a hissy fit. Any complaints so far?


      • Gisele March 23, 2012 at 08:03 #

        You are absolutely right Gary! I forgot to mention that for Google Goggles. You should go to the link in my post and from there you can send yourself an sms that connects you to the App or simply download Google Search. The other cool thing is that you get all the other search features from Google. The OTHER thing I forgot to mention which is quite big is that you need a Google account. Could be a deal-breaker for some, but most people have a Google account anyway. If you don’t, then it’s about time to get one, and while you are at it get Spotify too if you haven’t done it already!!

        As for TuneIn, I have no complaints except it sucks my phone’s battery. Other than that my telecom bill has not exceeded the quota. I suggest adapting the settings of your smartphone so that it connects to wi-fi as soon as a network is available and that way you will spare your data quota.

    2. gaëlle March 23, 2012 at 08:36 #

      Thanks a lot for this nice overview.

      About the radio more, I use a few more such as “stitcher” and “Liveradio”. 🙂