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Apps to put a spring in festival
By Zhu Shenshen

CONSUMERS love their smart phones and tablets partly because the features and apps make daily life just that bit easier and add color to the everyday.

And for the estimated 3.4 billion people undertaking the world's biggest human migration, as they return to their hometowns for the Chinese New Year on February 10, there are plenty of apps to help make the holiday go that bit more smoothly.

So whether you want to take better photographs of family reunions; share your holiday trips online with photo illustration; do a spot of traveling; or simply kill some time on the journey home, there are applications and Internet tools for iPhones, iPads and Android devices guaranteed to add a little glitter to the holiday.

Travel and virtual tourism

Google Tools

Google's Street View and its online art projects bring users a virtual tourist experience.

Stay-at-home travelers can enjoy 360-degree street views of cities such as Hong Kong, while art lovers will find plenty to explore at Google's online museums. These include thousands of pictures and videos featuring collections such as the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Ullens Center for Contempary Art in Beijing. However, both functions require personal computers.

On Android phones, Google also provides Google Maps, Google Translate and Google Goggles (supporting picture searches), all very useful tools for travelers.

Category: Travel

Developer: Google

Platform: PC/Android


Dubbed "one of the most spectacular virtual-tour user experiences" by Fast Company magazine, TourWrist enables users to view a property's features or try out a stadium's seating options. You can also embark on "tours" through intuitive and touch-based controls. The app now supports checking out travel destinations, hotels and restaurants through "remote reality" functions.

Category: Travel

Developer: Spark Labs

Platform: iOS

Other handy applications in this area include CN Air Quality (iOS) for real-time PM2.5 air quality figures in major cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing; and Veryzhun (Fei Chang Zhun) (iOS, Android) for flight information.


Vida-instant Photo Stories

This supports instant online photography sharing, including travel and foodie groups. Users can establish virtual communities, sharing stories organized in a timeline with photographs and video.

It also features 10 filters for users to edit their photographs. And a cool function is the voice note feature - allowing users to add a recorded message with their pictures.

Vida-instant Photo Stories is regarded as a "mandatory" app for the iPhone, by the BBC.

Category: Photography

Developer: Moregg

Platform: iOS/Android


GroupShot solves a common problem with group photos: what to do when an otherwise perfect pic is spoiled by someone looking away or caught with an odd expression at the moment the shutter is released.

In a bid to avoid this, people usually take several shots of their group photos, hoping that one will be perfect.

GroupShot takes this a stage further. Users can pick and choose parts of each photographs then combine these to create the perfect shot.

So you can ensure that Spring Festival snaps feature family members smiling in unison, with restless kids and grimacing grannies suitably edited.

Category: Photography

Developer: Macadamia Apps

Platform: iOS

Other photography apps include PicShop HD (iOS), which provides 16 filters and 19 photo frames to edit and customize your pictures. Fun effects include adding cartoon bubble dialogue boxes to your pictures.


Fu 2013

Need to send a Spring Festival greeting? Fear not. Fu 2013 is an application designed specifically for the Year of Snake, which includes greetings messages and festival icon pictures. Users can send greeting cards and messages through the application. It will upgrade new information and greeting cards every day until Lantern Festival, 15 days after the Spring Festival.

Category: Photo/video

Developer: Shen Yiming

Platform: iOS


PPTV is one of the most popular online video websites in China, allowing users to watch popular films and dramas online, and offline after downloading. During flights, train or bus journeys over the Spring Festival, PPTV is a must for making the hours pass more quickly.

Available on smart phones and iPad (recommended), PPTV currently has 800 million users. For 2013, the company has added finance, documentaries and car contents in its mobile offering.

Category: Entertaining

Developer: PPTV

Platform: iOS/Android

Other recommended entertainment apps include Online Cuisine (iOS), which provides high-resolution Chinese menus and gourmet pictures, perfect for finding Spring Festival dining options.

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