Hello fellow iPhone addicts (and hello to all of you Android users out there too)! If you’re like me, your phone is basically your tool for everything. Like, EVERYTHING. I get a little panicky when I accidentally leave my phone at home, even if it’s just a quick trip to the grocery store (but for good reason; my grocery list is on there), and if I don’t have my phone on me for a quick round of Plants vs Zombies 2 while waiting in a line somewhere (Fridays at the bank anyone?) I get annoyed 10x faster. Since many of you will probably bring your Smartphone to Spain (or acquire one here) I have compiled a simple yet requisite list of Apps that you’ll definitely use pretty much everyday while you’re here. Let me also add that these apps would be super helpful in ANY foreign country, so take note!
Whatsapp is pretty much your new best friend. Almost all young Spaniards use Whatsapp (Guasa) to communicate with friends, family, end even potential landlords. This app provides free texting and you can create group messages as well. It’s such a popular form of communication that it has developed its own verb –guasapear ex: Estamos guasapeando (We’re Whatsapping). Once you get your phone all set up with a Spanish number, download Whatsapp and register with your new digits, you’ll be all set to communicate. Any contacts you have in your phone who have Whatsapp will automatically show up in your contact list on Whatsapp. If they don’t, try adding the country code (+1 for the US and +34 for Spain) to the person’s number in your contacts and then it should show up in your Whatsapp contacts. For iPhone users: I’m pretty sure this app costs 99 cents (I think its free for Android). However, it’s totally worth it because texts cost between 10-15 cents per message so this app will pay for itself in like, five minutes. You can also use it without data if you’re in a WiFi area.
*Tip: some people also use Viber and/or Line for free texting and calling. Have your parents/family/friends back home download these, especially Viber, and you can call and text for free. I never used these much because my dad doesn’t have a Smartphone, but I do use iMessage a lot because he has an iPad. Make sure to activate iMessage in your settings and you can chat with all of your other iFriends for free!
If you don’t know what WordReference is, then you probably weren’t a Spanish major. WordReference is pretty much the best English to Spanish (or any language) online dictionary out there. It always lists many different uses of the word so you can figure out the exact word you need, and there are always examples used in a sentence. There are even forums where you can search for/ask about slang and phrases that are more than one word long. Let me also state: THE CONJUGATOR! A Spanish learner’s best friend. If you’re really trying to improve your Spanish when you come to Spain (everyone, right?!), you should definitely take a look at the conjugator. You can input any verb in the infinitive form and it conjugates if for you in all ways possible!! This website was a savior for me in college as a Spanish major, and now having the App of it helps me out pretty much daily. I’m not saying to stop in the middle of conversations to look up words… but if communication gets rough or if you take note of a word you didn’t know earlier, make sure to look it up so you can remember it!
This one is probably pretty obvious… it’s a weather app. The built in weather app that comes with the iPhone is fine, but I always like a bit more detail when it comes to looking at weather, especially down here in Andalucía where we have the levante winds that could totally ruin a day at the beach if you don’t look it up first. I like this one cause it tells you warnings about different extreme weather all over Spain and can get pretty specific in terms of location. Plus, I like that you can switch between celsius and fahrenheit as you adjust to the metric system and you can see an hour by hour forecast for the next two days.
I use the Unit Converter by Vapssky and I like it a lot. There are plenty of free unit converters, so choose one that’s intuitive to you. I like this one because you first choose what type of units you’ll be converting (speed, volume, weight, temperature) and then you put in however many of whatever unit you want, and choose the unit you want to convert to. Most unit converters work similarly so it’s pretty much a no brainer. I use this when I’m baking a lot, and have even used it to figure out how much gas prices in the US compare to gas prices in Spain while having a discussion with some Spanish friends (here gas is sold euros/liter). I also use a separate temperature converter for quick conversion access when it’s balls hot out and I’m like.. 41°C?? What does this mean!?
Although my unit converter has an accurate currency converter, I’ve been using xe.com to look at conversion rates since my first solo trip abroad when I was 19, and I’ve stayed loyal to it. This is also a really straightforward app… you just choose the starting currency (for example USD) and enter the amount (for example 500). Underneath will show a list of how much 500USD equals in a bunch of different currencies, and you can choose which ones it shows. It gives you live conversion rates, but you can also use this one offline and it will give you the rates from when you most recently had your phone connected to wifi or data.
A friend recommended this app to me last year during a lonely night when I was pregaming by myself before going out (don’t judge me), and it rocked my world. If you like to have total control of your playlist, this is not the app for you. If, however, you love Pandora and are so so sad that it doesn’t work in Spain, you’ll love Songza! It will give you playlist suggestions based on different activities, or you can choose your mood, a decade or a genre and it will give you suggestions based on that. I seriously use this app everyday (who doesn’t like to sing in the shower) and it helps me stay up-to-date on what music is new in the English speaking world since I’m pretty bad at keeping up with pop culture (but seriously, Miley Cyrus at the VMAs whutttt?).
Do you have favorite apps you use all the time? What are they? Feel free to share, I’m always looking for new tools and toys!