November 10, 2011

Korean App Attack

Smart phones and hand-held media devices are all the rage these days. And what's not to love about them? They combine everything you could possibly need into one device. In addition to offering telecommunication and entertainment services, they have also changed traveling as we know it. These days, there is no longer a need for guidebooks. There's an app for that. Maps? Who needs them? There's an app for that, too. Forget the weather man. Smart phones have you taken care of. Whether you're traveling or living in Korea, there are some applications that are definitely worth checking out.

Seoul City Metro: This app is quite a simple one and has made navigating the subway system of Seoul easy peasy. The full version ($0.99) allows the user to search for stations by name (in English) or on the clearly outlined map while also letting the user create an easy-to-follow route between destinations. The app includes time tables and is regularly updated.

Jihachul: I've only recently found this free app and haven't yet used it in Korea. It seems more complicated than Seoul City Metro but it has many more features, including an area guide, a subway bathroom location feature, and exit info. This app seems to be better suited for long-term residents than tourists and for those whose media devices have internet capabilities.

Seoul Bus 2: This is another free travel app that contains routes and timetables for the bus system of the Seoul Metropolitan area. Timetables require internet access, so if I am not in a WiFi area I tend to use this app for route info. Also, I should note that you need to be able to read Korean to use this app.

i Tour Seoul: This is a fantastic app that is provided free of charge by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. It contains information about Seoul as well as details about shopping, attractions, restaurants, events, and hotels. You can search listings by area, popularity, or even what's nearby (using WiFi or 3G). Although this app is targeted to tourists, I use it quite often as it's very comprehensive and contains a lot of good information about the city. I highly recommend it.

Visit Korea: Similar to the i Tour Seoul app, this one features information about other cities in Korea. It's basically the Korean Tourism Organization's website in application form. It requires internet capabilities.

Lingopal Korean Talking Phrasebook: Although this phrasebook app contains some crazy and sometimes offensive phrases (with categories like "Insults" and "Flirting"), it has come in handy over the years for me. It's great for tourists and expats alike, as it not only displays phrases in clear, large print but can also 'speak' them to help the user improve his or her pronunciation. It's not free but is cheap at $0.99.

Finally, Frommer's Travel Tools is a decent app that allows users to convert currency and organize packing lists. There's also a fun trivia game that is good for killing time. Not a great app but worth the download, as it's free.

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