Israelis are known for their love of gadgets as well as their talents in the high-tech field, as the technology industry is known in these parts. A quick glance around any café tabletop indicates a plethora of iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, as the locals have gone mad for Apple’s newest offerings.
So it was only a matter of time until Israeli techies came up with a host of apps – the shorthand for software applications used on any smartphone – that are guaranteed to make one’s life easier and more efficient, whether using an Apple model or the Android and Nokia models widely used in Israel and abroad.
There are apps for a host of daily needs in Israel in particular, from Kacholavan’s (that’s Kachol Lavan, as in blue and white) app for finding parking in Tel Aviv to iHummus’s app that allows you to enjoy a virtual bowl of hummous. Jerubus, for the Jerusalem bus traveler, is eminently helpful given the lack of an official Egged bus map.
But if you don’t live in Israel, there are several standouts that already appeal to millions of users worldwide. If you want to lower your monthly cellphone bill, use Fring, a voice over IP ‘peer-to-peer mobile service’ that lets you use existing WiFi connections or your provider’s data connection costs to call friends. Developed by Avi Shechter, Alex Nerst and Boaz Silberman, Fring also lets you connect to your chat buddies on different messaging services, including MSN, AIM, Twitter and Google Talk. You can also use FringOut – a calling program for reaching landlines and non-Fringers – where you pay for minutes at excellent rates. Sound quality is excellent and the savings can really add up over time.
“Our technology is making phones more fun and adding a lot of richness,” says Jake Levant, Fring’s vice president for marketing. Levant described a family visiting Israel for a bar mitzvah or wedding and sharing the moment – for free — with Grandma and the rest of the family back home.
“It’s a social networking approach that makes communication from a smartphone, smarter, and the world a little smaller,” adds Levant, who estimates that Fring’s users number in the tens of millions, many of them using Fring on and off throughout their workday.
How about keeping track of all your financial information on a daily basis? With bills to pay, accounts to track and monitor, it pays to use the top-rated Pageonce, personal finance software that has been wowing customers since its original version first appeared in 2007. More than three million customers praise the way the nifty app has helped them save money, avoid late fees, plan their travel and even monitor their AT&T cell phone minutes, a key factor for all those Apple customers tied into AT&T calling plans. Developed by a team of Israelis, you can use it on the iPhone, the iPad, the Blackberry and for Windows and Android phones. Only caveat? You can’t use it in Israel.
Lastly, download Waze for the next time you’re planning to drive anywhere. Based on a social network model, Waze lets drivers connect with drivers in the same area and find out what roads, highways and bi-ways to take on the way to work or play. Launched in 2009, Waze is the brainchild of Ehud Shabtai who was disappointed with the first GPS he had, which didn’t reflect the dynamic changes and real conditions on the road.
So he built his own dynamic traffic platform that combines GPS, open-source software and a community of drivers. Shabtai, along with co-founders Amir Shinar, Uri Levine and CEO Noam Bardin have refined an idea that appeals to a growing audience of more than two million drivers. It also has a game element, where you can see other Waze users on the road and earn points by ‘hitting landmarks’, some fun for when driving – in traffic – gets boring.
According to Alli Magidsohn, marketing communications director for Waze, the app is growing quickly in the U.S. and there are also very active communities in Ecuador, Argentina, France and Italy, among other locales. The Israeli user base, “where it all started,” says Magidsohn, “remains strong and very active.”
So take out those smartphones and start downloading one of these Sabra apps. Your life will be that much easier.