Trips at your fingertips

Updated: 2013-05-01 16:46

By Eric Jou (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Trips at your fingertips

China Air Pollution Index provides environmental status.


Once the language barrier is crossed, next is the environmental barrier. Often the weather dictates travel plans, but in Beijing air quality also plays a major role. Sometimes when the air is too smoggy, it's best to avoid heading outside.

The domestically created China Air Pollution Index does a wonderful job of aggregating all the feeds about Beijing's air quality in one simple application. One of the neatest features of the CAPI app is the ability to choose the source of the air-quality readings and what scale to use. Users can get info streams from, say, the US embassy or the Beijing Environmental Protection Monitoring Center. They're also able to get readings of the PM 2.5 index.

China Air Pollution Index is free on both the iOS and Android app stores in both Chinese and English. It also offers information on 149 Chinese cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Chat Applications / Social Networking

Trips at your fingertips

WeChat blends chat networks and social networks.

Every smartphone offers online service, GPS navigation and picture-taking. Smartphone photography and the dawn of social networks have created a new photo-sharing culture.

People take photos and share them on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, and it's almost instantaneous. Applications such as WeChat and iMoMo are hybrid blends of chat networks and social networks.

Users can use WeChat and iMoMo to share photos and information immediately with friends and contacts directly from their phones. On top of the messaging and social network elements tied to WeChat and iMoMo, there is the opportunity to meet strangers with these applications. Users can see who is around them and then strike up random conversations.

WeChat and iMoMo are both available for free on both iOS and Android, in both Chinese and English.

Transportation Guides

The last set of applications is transportation guides, which unlike the others mentioned are dedicated to one city. Since this guide is about Beijing, these are Beijing-focused applications.

Metroman, a subway map and guide application, works wonders on the iOS platform. It has an internal timetable showing users when the next subway train will arrive. On top of that, it offers paid maps such as the Taipei subway system.

Unfortunately for Android users, Metroman is iOS only. The closest applications to something like Metroman is the static map application called Beijing Subway Map. In fact there are a series of subway map apps. They basically show where each subway stop is in both English and Chinese.

For those who wish to take a taxi, there are applications such as DiDiDache that offers users ways to hail taxis. DiDiDache allows users to flag down any nearby taxicab. Users just whip out their phones, turn on the GPS, and say their location; the information is fed to the taxi company, which then relays it to the drivers on the road. Sadly, DiDiDache is only available in Chinese.


Will the idiot box get smarter

If the phone fits, wear it

A life governed by apps