As more and more mobile phone manufacturers release phones based on the Android mobile OS, and as Android handsets get cheaper, smartphones are slowly becoming a growing phenomenon in more and more countries across the world. India has traditionally been a market for low-cost, economical handsets with a very high emphasis on durability and simplicity. As more and more Indians get on the Android bandwagon, local apps and services are gathering momentum.
Let’s look at some of the top apps available specifically to Android users in India. There are of course tons of such apps in the Android Market, but I’ve found these to be the top of the lot in terms of design, quality and usability.
TaazzaGo bills itself as the only local app you will need anywhere in India. It takes a bunch of location-based services and packages them all together in a neat little package. You get news, deals, weather, movies and yellow pages, all customized to your location. Need to find a place to eat around you? TaazzaGo will list all restaurants around you along with the distance from your current location and also point to them on a map. They have also partnered with a bunch of daily deals sites to bring selection of deals in your vicinity.
BookMyShow is one of the biggest online ticket booking sites in India and covers a broad range of entertainment avenues from movies to theater and all kinds of events. The official BookMyShow Android app brings all that is great about their web version to the mobile phone. You can easily search through the listing for your city and get more information on each movie or event as well as the venue. Once you find something you like, you can book the tickets right there on the phone, and even pick your seats using a super-intuitive interface.
ngpay is easily the biggest mobile mall in India with products and services from over a hundred stores available right on your Android phone. Name it, and you can have it: travel tickets, hotel bookings, movies, electronics, clothes, accessories, even flowers! They even have IRCTC – India’s prominent railway ticket booking system – integrated right inside the app. You can purchase directly from your phone and get the goods delivered wherever you need.
For a country obsessed with music, I couldn’t get away without talking about at least a couple of music apps. Hungama.com is one of the leading providers of music entertainment in the country and the MyPlay app provides mobile access to that entire library. You can browse through more than 450,000 songs, videos, ring tones and wallpapers. Although the app is a free install and you can stream music for free, you need to purchase tracks to be able to download them in MP3 format.
Saavn Music is a pretty new entrant in the online music marketplace in India, but has been gathering good steam thanks to a very polished set of apps for the web and mobile platforms. You can search and instantly stream music from a variety of sources including Bollywood songs, ghazals, bhangra, etc. If you decide to create an account on saavn.com, you can save your favorite songs in playlists. There is also a Pandora-like feature which plays tracks that are similar to one that you choose. The app also features Facebook integration, with a Like button built right in.
Raaga.com has been around for a while and is a pretty popular destination on the web for Indian music enthusiats. The official raaga.com app brings direct access to their entire music library to your Android phone. With a boatload of music in over 18 languages, you can find pretty much anything you are looking for here. You can create private or public playlists and connect with other users through thousands of public playlists. Apart from the usual popular music collections, they also have a pretty big collection of devotional songs, as well as music for yoga, meditation and relaxation.
For most Indians, the most economical and comfortable mode of long distance commuting is the Indian Railways. It would be hard to find an Indian who has never been in a train. The Indian Rail Info app provides all the information you need about the railway system in India. You can search for trains between stations, review their schedules and routes, real time status of a running train, check fares, check PNR status and seat upgrade status.
If you are too impatient for the train or prefer taking the aerial route, Yatra.com’s Travelbuddy should have you covered. You can use Yatra.com’s powerful flight search engine to check for the cheapest flights between airports, and then book tickets right from your phone. The app only works for flights between Indian cities.
If you have an interest in the ancient Indian art of healing, AyurvedaBook is a must-have. The app contains detailed information on more than 50 Ayurvedic herbs. Along with detailed descriptions of each herb and its potential uses, the also highlights risks and potential side effects for each herb, something I know a lot of people consider very critical information.
The Times of India is the leading daily newspaper in the country and is also one of the first publications in the country to adopt new technology. It was one of the first newspapers to offer an online version of the paper for free. The Times of India Android app does justice to their reputation by bringing a mobile optimized news reading experience to Android, flush with a clean and usable user interface, well categorized news items, photos and videos (powered by TOI’s Times Now channel) all in a single intuitive package.
If newspapers have taken to the mobile platform, can television channels stay too far behind? NDTV is one of the leading TV networks in India with channels covering news, business and entertainment. The NDTV mobile app brings content from their news and business networks Android with constantly updated news feeds, videos, photos and stock market updates. Apart from a very nicely designed interface, the app also contains a home screen widget that cycles through the latest news stories and cricket scores.
For those interested in the money markets, moneycontrol.com is a good source of information on money-related matters in India. The Moneycontrol Markers on Mobile app bring all that information so you can carry it along with you. The app brings live market updates, stock quotes and running text and video commentary on all money-related issues to the phone. If you are registered on the website and have your portfolio updated, you can also access it on the phone through the Moneycontrol app.
iMobile is the mobile banking solution from one of the biggest private sector banks in India – ICICI Bank. Available on pretty much every mobile platform out there, iMobile gffives you complete access to your bank account from the phone. You can review your account balance, conduct transactions and pay utility bills through your bank account from within the app.
Like most Indians, if you still consume most of the news through good old newspapers, NewsHunt may be the app for you. NewsHunt brings access to dozens of leading newspapers in India, spanning all major cities and languages. Just pick your language, select the newspaper and read the latest stories without ever worrying about another dead tree, wherever you are. As well as reading stories, you can share the best ones through Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and SMS from within the app.
Those were my picks for the best Android apps for Indians. Of course there are hundreds more for everything from grocery shopping to auto-rickshaw fare meters. Have a favorite that doesn’t feature here? Sound off in the comments section below.