BY MERLISA BISCOCHO
Years ago, we used phones to make a call, send a text message, or take a grainy photo. Fast forward to 2012 and phones—with “smart” now added to its name--have evolved to multi-tasking beasts that let us share photos on Facebook, keep us updated with the latest news around the world, or entertain us with a game, a movie, or a song.
Half the fun of owning a smartphone is selecting which apps to install. There’s even one created especially for OFWs. Looking for new apps? We’ve scoured Google’s Play Store for free apps that deserve RAM-space in every OFW’s smartphone.
Chikka MessengerSend free text messages to any subscriber of a network in Pinas. You only need a Chikka account and an internet connection. Friends back home can reply using their feature phones for only Php2.00-2.50/text. To exchange texts completely free, have friends and family install this app on their smartphones or computers.
Because Chikka is a calling service that depends on internet connection, emergency or important messages should still be coursed through mobile networks.
Time2RemitAs OFWs, one of the most important figures in our lives is the exchange rate. We try to get as much bang for our hard-earned bucks.
Time2Remit saves Singapore-based OFWs the effort of having to visit several remittance centers to ask about the rate. This app claims to publish exchange rates every day, but developers do this manually (meaning, there might be a chance for human error). Future enhancements include automatic publishing of exchange rates and support for more countries.
tfsRadio – Radio PhilippinesThis app streams live content from AM and FM stations in the Philippines. Streaming content consumes a lot of bandwidth, so be sure that you use this app only when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. There’s a nifty option on tfsRadio to help you do just that.
Want the breaking news in the Philippines? You can tune in to DZBB or DZRH or to provincials stations such as Aksyon Radyo Ilo-Ilo. Missing your favorite DJs back home? There’s RX Monster Radio or Love Radio. The list of stations could be more comprehensive, though (there’s no DZMM or there are very few provincial stations, for example).
SimbaFor some OFWs, Sunday is a working day or churches are few and far in between.
Hearing mass has no substitute, but if doing so is unlikely for Catholic OFWs, they may like Simba’s Sunday mass readings, guide for praying the rosary, and other Catholic prayers. The text is in Tagalog, and we wish that this app will have translations for other major languages in the Philippines (like Cebuano, Hiligaynon, or Kapampangan).
Regalo AppHay Pinas advocates planning for expenses, especially gift-giving.
Regalo is a very basic app that lets you keep track of pasalubongs. You can group recipients, create a list of gifts for a person, and track how much you’ve spent. When you’ve bought the gift, simply go to my Regalo screen and tap the item. This is a nice tool to help you stay within your budget as the app computes your total spending. Using this app is confusing at first because of the interface, but it certainly gets the job done.
What app would you recommend for OFWs? What do you like about this app? What improvements do you want to see?
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