Technopolis: With growing smartphone usage, comes the rise of Nepali appsHere are a few apps that offer more than supplementary services
Following the ubiquity of smartphones in Nepal, many local and international developers alike have developed apps with a distinct Nepali user-base in mind. In the past, Nepali apps like Nepali Loadshedding App and HamroPatro—simple but informational—were the extent of Nepali apps, but now in 2019, the scope of these apps have improved and have moved more towards offering better service rather than just being information-driven.
Today, with their phones, Nepali users have access to eBanking services from many local banks, digital wallets andonline shopping. They even have access to bike-taxi services. And while there aren’t a lot of Nepali apps on the Google Play Store, as most apps are companion apps for banks and local services that do not offer a unique service of their own, there are a few apps that offer more than supplementary services that Nepali users should try. Here are some of them:
Although not locally developed, iFlix is an on-demand video service with a focus on emerging markets including Nepal. The app hosts a plethora of western, Asian and Middle-Eastern content. Nepali users can access a large library of full-length Nepali movies in addition to movies, series and anime from many international countries—for free.
With a dedicated tab for Nepali content, the app also acts as a curation service for new Nepali movies. And while you won’t find many famous western movies and series on the app, it offers great service for content exploration.
The app is designed with exploration in mind, as iFlix is designed really well with simple tabs and country-specific content on top with horizontal lists separated into groups inside each tab. Unlike other local online content aggregator apps like FOPI and Nepali Tube, iFlix is not riddled with intrusive ads. iFlix only displays ads during ‘watch’ sessions, while the two aforementioned local apps throw pop-up ads with each tap. It might not be Netflix but it’s the closest thing that we have to an online streaming service, and while it might not boast the same calibre of content, iFlix still is a great app to find free local and international content to binge over.
Trekking in Nepal
Developed by HoneyGuide Travel Apps, the Trekking in Nepal is a great companion app to take with you on your hike. The app provides a very comprehensive guide with everything from places, mountain views, lodges and local flora and fauna to look out for while you trek. The app also provides basic safety information for potential trekkers which also includes information on altitude sickness, immunisations, and rescue contacts. The app also has a ‘guidebook’ feature that provides users with essential information, such as the best trekking times, geological information and local etiquette to follow. Currently, the app provides information on Ghorepani-Poonhill, Annapurna Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit and Everest Region treks.
Although Trekking in Nepal focuses more on international tourists, it is equally valuable for local tourists as well. Along with being informative, the app also does a good job of presenting information in an easy, user-friendly interface. Everything on the app is categorised into easy-to-understand sections, making the app a breeze to navigate. The app also does not have annoying ads. But while the app might look nice, it does suffer from many stability issues. The app crashes a lot and many sections are downright inaccessible because the app crashes every time you try to access certain features, like the map.
eSewa and Khalti
With everything moving swiftly towards digitisation, apps like eSewa and Khalti are going to be very important in Nepal. While both apps have been going toe-to-toe with each other to claim dominance over the digital wallet service in Nepal, both are well-developed apps that help you manage your digital payments. Both eSewa and Khalti have partnered with banks to make wallet top-ups easier. Both apps also offer options to pay bills digitally, top-up the balance on your phone and pay for local services through a cash-less system that is sure to gather greater momentum in the future.
Both apps are very user-friendly, and the competition between the two services has led both developers to provide the best service to their customers. But apart from how easy these apps are to use, the greater concern lies with how well sensitive financial data is secured inside these apps.
Tootle and Pathao
Both of these bike-taxi services have become crucial for local commuters in Kathmandu. Tootle and Pathao have come as a boon for commuters because of their ease of use and reasonable rates—especially in a city that has inflated fares from taxi drivers and uncomfortably congested local busses in the name of public transportation. Today, both apps are massively popular in Kathmandu with many users and riders making use of the service on a daily basis.
Part of the appeal of these services also lies in the easy use of their apps. Both apps have integrated Google Maps into their service, supporting precision pick-up and drop points making the whole system transparent for the users, thus ensuring safety. The apps also calculate fares based on distance which means all users get the same base rate without the need to haggle or feel cheated by taxi drivers. Both apps are extremely stable with a very intuitive user-interface and neither of the apps have crashed.
The KBC Nepal is a companion app to the Ko Banchha Crorepati show but offers features that help it stand on its own. The app offers options to answers questions at home for a chance to win up to a lakh through their ‘Shree Steel Ghaar Baserai Lakhpathi’ game and provides users to be part of the show by answering ‘fastest finger first’ questions from the app. KBC Nepal also functions as a standalone question-and-answer game with a virtual Ko Banchha Crorepati game within the app that users can play. If you are a KBC fan, all episodes of the TV show appear within the app.
The KBC Nepal app itself isn’t very user-friendly, with many pop-up ads showing up between gaming sessions, but testing your own Nepali general knowledge is a fun way to pass time regardless of the constant barrage of advertisements.
Rana has been writing about technology for the past nine years. He writes about technology from the purview of modern consumerist culture while also exploring the nuances of its social and behavioural effects on people.