10 Must-have apps if you're new to Singapore
Taking on Singapore, armed with just a phone
Being an expat in a foreign country, especially one as bustling with life as Singapore, can be pretty intimidating. We bury our faces in our phone screens to seek comfort it. These are 10 must-have apps on your phone to make your new life in Singapore easier.
To note: We’ve chosen the best app for each category, and alternatives are placed in the ‘Honorable mentions’ section. All of the apps are available for free on both iPhones and Androids, unless otherwise stated.
Navigation (Google Maps)
We all have to get around, don’t we? As with most other places around the world, the king-pin of navigation in Singapore goes to Google Maps. A close second comes the native Apple Maps (iOS only), but with Google Street View cars burning rubber since 2008 and users mapping businesses and points-of-interests on Google Maps, they take the cake.
Honorable mentions: Waze (Driver-community based app, has real-time alerts for red light and speeding cameras, accidents, and jams) and gothere.sg (Maps even shopping malls and store directories, the downside is that it is a paid app, with advertisements. iOS only, S$5.98 on the App Store).
Public Transportation (SG Buses)
Now you know where exactly you want to go in Singapore, you’ve still got to get there. SG Buses is the quintessential app for this. It gives accurate timings of the next bus. Not only that, you can bookmark your favorite bus stops and it also shows how crowded the bus will be.
Their brainchild, SG NextBus (iOS only) is a stripped down version of the app that shows you the timings of only the nearest few bus stops. NextBus also has widget capabilities; meaning you can get bus timings right from your lock screen.
Honorable mention: Singapore MRT LRT Offline, does exactly what the name says. It also helps you route your fastest travel between stations. The in-app purchases offers the removal of advertisements and displays fare cost information.
Taxi/Car Service (Grab)
You’ve guessed it. Grab grabs first place in this category because of their variety of services – from regular taxis, private cars, limo taxis, carpooling to scheduled rides. You can accumulate points from rides, to be exchanged for discounts from the vendor partners or cheaper rides in the future. Also, a fixed fee is shown from the start, surcharges or any other charges is all included in the fee.
Honorable mentions: Uber comes pretty close behind, although almost alike, Uber’s taxi service is a metered fare. When Grab and Uber have crazy surcharges, there is ComfortDelgro, a taxi booking app.
There is just one app that is perfect for this: Popcorn. Popcorn consolidates all the different cinema companies in Singapore to display all the timings, for all the movies. They include film festivals and other on-screen related events as well. You can even make ticket bookings and watch film trailers through the app.
Restaurant Reservations (Chope)
With what the locals call a ‘rojak’ (read: a local delight, translates to mixture) of cultures and races, you are spoilt for choice when in comes to food in Singapore. And with Singaporeans’ favorite pastime being eating, you find a place to eat easily. Even easier with the Chope app, that not only helps you make table reservations, but is a one-stop guide to restaurants in Singapore. It has reviews, menus, price listings, locations and more.
Honorable mention: OpenTable, which is excellent for looking for places to eat near your location, as it pulls listing by your location right on the homepage of the app.
Food Delivery (Deliveroo)
And why go all the way out, when you can get food right at your doorstep? Deliveroo lists the approximate time taken for delivery, the costs and a large variety of restaurants to choose from. Coming in second is foodpanda, which is especially great for local cuisine, but has an interface that’s a bit harder to use.
Honorable Mentions: UberEATS and foodpanda. They work very similarly to how Deliveroo does.
You might have noticed the multitude of similar-looking bicycles at MRTS, bus stops, or anywhere the human traffic is high. These are part of a bike-sharing app, called oBike. It’s simple – Locate an oBike using the GPS, turn on your bluetooth, and scan the QR code to unlock the bicycle.
Honorable Mentions: ofo, which is the same but does not have GPS tracking, so you’ll have to find the bicycle manually. MoBike is another option, which is similar to oBike.
Online Shopping (Lazada)
Think of an Asian Amazon. That’s exactly what Lazada is. From household appliances, clothing, and to electronics, Lazada has them all. They offer 100% buyer protection; whether your product is from Lazada or a third party. Best part of Lazada: Cash. On. Delivery. You’ll only have to pay upfront when the item is right at your doorstep.
Honorable Mentions: RedMart, an online grocery store and Carousell, a user-based marketplace to buy and sell anything.
The All(4)-in-One (honestbee)
With honestbee, you can get your meals, groceries, laundry and even tickets all in one app. The tickets include admission to places like the Science Centre, Madame Tussauds, and the Mint Museum of Toys.
Living (MetroConnect by MetroResidences)
For guests staying at MetroResidences, you’re able to review your reservation, send requests to the front desk, and have a handy guide of your neighbourhood all from your phone. The MetroConnect is the app that does just that. Not only that, guests also enjoy exclusive promotions from selected service providers.