4 Apps to Download for China

20 February 2013

Can I just say that I love technology? Seriously, the things you can do with a cell phone nowadays is amazing! With all the incredible apps that are available, your cell phone can be one of your greatest resources while traveling. I won't go over how to unlock your smart phone so that it works in a foreign country because many other blogs that actually know tech have covered this topic. A quick google search of 'how to jail break cell phone china' ought to do the trick. Instead, I want to talk about these free apps that will make your time in China just a little bit easier.

1. A Currency Converter
Calculating the exchange rate between Chinese yuan and American dollars is annoying, especially since I'm not really a math person. In general, you can estimate in your head with this formula: Take the price of the item (let's say it's a pair of shoes for 30.00 yuan) and move the decimal point over to the left one place (3.00). Divide that number in half (1.50) and add it to the other number you came up with before (3.00 + 1.50= 4.50) Therefore, 30 yuan shoes are roughly $4.50.

Or you could just use a conversion app on your phone and find that they're actually $4.80 and save yourself a lot of time.

2. A World Clock
I was actually quite fortunate in this area since my time zone back home was exactly 12 hours behind that of China's. How convenient! But for others who aren't so lucky, I suggest getting a world clock app. It will make coordinating with your loved ones back home much easier and ensure that you don't miss any Skype sessions!

3. Lianghao Jiajia
This app requires that you know a little bit about writing Chinese but is still super handy. If you don't know about how to write Chinese characters here's a super quick tutorial: Each 'picture' is called a character. Each character is made up of so many strokes, or times you lift the pen from the paper to draw another line. Sometimes a character is made up of several characters mashed together and each of those parts is called a 'radical'. Therefore, the word for child (
) is two strokes and only one radical.

So say you don't know this word: . To find out what it means, click 4 from the main screen of the app since the main radical is made of 4 strokes. The next screen will give you a bunch of options of characters with four strokes so click the one that looks like this . On the next screen you'll see, there's the character we're looking for. Click it to find the meaning (btw, it means morning).

4. Hanzi Recognizer
This is another great app for finding the meaning of a character you don't know. It's super easy because all you have to do is draw the character on your screen. I use this app all the time for doing my Chinese homework. The only bothersome part about this app is that you have to know the order in which you write the strokes of the character or else the app won't be able to recognize the character you want. Hint: strokes of characters should be written from top to bottom and left to right.

So, these are my favorite apps. What apps do you use frequently for traveling?

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