iPhone Apps for Thailand (1): A Mixed Bag
With the advent of the Thai app store and the iPhone's official arrival here, I am looking at some apps aimed at users in (or interested in) Thailand. I have had an iPod touch since January 2008 and it has performed superbly. I also now have a 3G iPhone on extended test, so I can look at some of the apps only for that device.
When the iPhone was released here, True were ready with a number of apps, but I was disappointed to find that many would work only on the generation 2 iPod touch. One that I was able to install was the Thai DiCT app. This was a free download and built on work done on LEXiTRON by NECTEC. This does not need the user to be online.
It starts with a blank screen which has a search window at the top. Tapping within the window brings up a keyboard and a word can be entered. The main panel shows some basic grammar information, one or more Thai words or terms, and some English synonyms. It is a pity that this useful app does not have some phonetic information to help those of us who do not read Thai.
With my iPod touch, I need to listen with headphones. With the iPhone, the speaker will produce the sound. With the iPhone and Generation 2 touch, users can also record and playback their voice to check pronunciation.
Each daily word can be added to a word bank. This also allows use of flash-cards to assist learning. There is an extensive information page that explains the philosophy behind the app and the learning method. The Lite version was $0.99 (34 baht) and users may upgrade to a full version at $9.99 (355 baht). This contains a bank of 2,000 words sorted into categories: enough for a fair level of communication. Word Power is by Innovative Language Learning who have well over 200 apps listed.
Bangkok BTS by Michael Paul Young at $0.99 has the bare outline of the MRT and BTS lines, including the yet to be opened extension. There is no other information. The map cannot be view in landscape mode and does not respond to the double tap, so changing size is done with the "pinch". The whole map cannot be viewed. A screen shot from the web would be as good.
I later found a more comprehensive third app, BKK Transit by Edoardo Bacca (EdoWare), that covers BTS, MRT, river transport and a "Bus Tourist Guide" [sic]. This lists landmarks and suggests suitable bus routes. There is also a section marked Time in Bangkok, which displays date and time here.
Information available depends on the respective systems. Both BTS and MRT have system information and prices. In the BTS section, "Nearby and Facilities", has text information on most of the stations, while the MRT section displays useful maps of the areas around stations, plus some basic data on two of the four Metro Malls. Both sections link to a full map of the two systems, and each also displays contact numbers for each of the systems: on the iPhone this enabled a call to be made directly.
The riverboat section provides an excellent diagram of the system and includes details of the four flags of the boats, plus the Ayutthaya line. Like the rail systems, prices are given as well as places of interest.
The Bus section has a lengthy list of places tourists might visit, including malls, parks and police stations, but not hospitals. Don Muang is listed; Suvanabhumi is not. Not all routes serving a destination are shown: for example, the southern bus station has several that pass (and stop for passengers) which are not shown.
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