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MSG9

Recommended applications before staying in China?

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MSG9

Hi guys!

 

I will be staying in Beijing for a couple of years for study purposes. What are some of the (phone) applications that you recommend that are necessary/will make the stay/adjustment quite easier?

 

All I have so far are: the Beijing subway line app, a translator (lol), and wechat. 

 

Do you guys have any other essentials? 

Will be appreciated. Thank you!

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DavyJonesLocker

A VPN , important to download before you come as the VPN sites themselves will be blocked so trying to get the installation file can be a pain.

 

Once you have this you're good to go.

Its worth getting Pleco dictionary and buying the screen reader,/ocr service . Invaluable

 

I think it's worthwhile downloading your Western banking apps as these too can be problematic to use in China. You probably have it already.

 

Anything else you can download when you are here. You will find you start using Chinese apps much more. Many App have English too. APPS  like some Beijing subway app are not often up to date and the Chinese ones like 北京地铁 is better (in English) 

 

When get here search for 豌豆荚   (wandoujia) in baidu and download it's basically like Google play store . 

 

One you're in China I'd delete wechat and download the mainland version.  it has more functionality especially around payment systems and internal programs like bike rental. However I believe the two versions are closely aligned now (not sure)

 

As for apps I used everyday several times a day , they are.

Wechat. 微信

PLECO

Xiami music , QQ music (Google doesn't work well)

北京地铁 (Beijing subway )

Alipay (known as zhifubao here)

Wechat wallet (part of mainland wechat version but I think international versions might have this now)

易通行 (Can use you phone to pay for subway journeys, all stations have ocr scanners at the gate) 

Amap , excellent Maps and navigation app, better than baidu maps

JingDong, tmall , tao bao , shopping apps in that order of preference due to trust and service. JingDong is excellent.

手机营业厅 For recharging your phone, (OK not everyday I use it :))

美团外卖 or 饿了吗 First one is better in my view . It's a takeaway app, huge in China , KFC, MacDonald's will be on there should you wish. I really need to stop using this!

探探 it's a dating app but I used it for meeing Chinese people and conversing. I'm not interested in a romantic  relationship but still, I meet in person some lovely people who don't speak a lick of English and my Chinese improved a lot. 

淘票票   Ticket app. I use it for cinema tickets, can be half the price of the actual office ticket price.

OFO, MOBIKE bike rental schemes, however they are included in wechat and alipay now.

 

Ultimately priority is to get a Chinese bank account and register the account with wechat wallet and alipay. Everything will be a world easier here. 

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

@MSG9

Iust checked, Ofo, hello bike (good sturdy bikes actually!) and another one (which you can never find) are available to rent via ALIPAY. .

 

MOBIKE , BLUEGoGo are in wechat., but I think bluegogo (小蓝车)has been taken over by Didi now .It's good using it this way as you don't have to pay the 300 deposit like you used to do with mobike app

 

Mind you trying to find an OFO that isn't smashed to bits is a feat in itself !

 

Oh and didi is also in alipay but I still think the actual didi app is easier to use. 

 

The little embedded programs in wechat (小程序) are becoming better and better. It means you don't have to keep installing new apps (polluting your phone display )  and registering all the time especially with silly little apps like WAGAS coffee shop, SAMS supermarket etc where all you want is you membership QR code to scan for collecting points and using rewards . 

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m000gle

I agree 100% that you should have a paid (not free) VPN, or two, ready and functional before you arrive.  This means both having the apps installed and having any accounts paid for and configured.  If you have this step done, almost anything else can be done after arrival, on the fly.

 

While there may have been differences between overseas and domestic WeChat applications in the past, and there certainly were significant differences between QQ and QQ International back in the day, I don't believe this is the case any longer.  On my most recent visit, I was able to do everything on my WeChat that Chinese friends were able to on theirs.  The only limitations I ran into were: not having a Mainland Chinese bank card, thus limiting my ability to top up the wallet directly, but this was easy to get around by handing a friend 100 CNY and having them send it back over WeChat; and not having a Chinese ID card, which limited my ability to purchase train tickets, but this was even the case at automated terminals in stations and not a WeChat issue per se.

 

While 豌豆荚 and other alternative App Stores do exist, I would recommend significant caution when enabling them.  The same goes for installing from any third party source or APK.  Apps in the first party store are already bad enough when it comes to a rather promiscuous approach to permissions/privacy/security, even with the limited vetting process they go through;  I shudder to think of what might be included in the PRC-specific versions of both the store and the apps it hosts, given how personal privacy is not top of mind and the violation of it is often legally mandated. Perhaps I am just paranoid, though, after having worked in IT.


Most of the specific app recommendations, above, though, have been spot on, and as you settle in and see what others are using, you'll probably fairly naturally know what else you want to add to your device.

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DavyJonesLocker
5 hours ago, m000gle said:

 

While 豌豆荚 and other alternative App Stores do exist, I would recommend significant caution when enabling them.  The same goes for installing from any third party source or APK.  Apps in the first party store are already bad enough when it comes to a rather promiscuous approach to

 

Agree, I am too happy with Chinese App stores, they try to install a lot of other crap along with the app. I generally try use huawei own app store (as I have huawei phone) which does seem better. However I find one  needs to spend some time in the settings of the phone removing permissions etc.

 

I try to keep Chinese apps to a minimum on my phone as they do seem to come with s lot of bloat and other intrusions . 

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mungouk

This possibly doesn't add much apart from maybe reinforcing previous recommendations... but anyway here's what NYU Shanghai are telling their new students

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