No matter where you are in the world, the smartphone has become an essential part of all of our lives. Your phone can help you feel and stay connected regardless of where your travels take you. And with the right mobile app, your life can feel a little bit more manageable, especially when you’re in a new country. Whether you use your phone for work, play, finances, music, or connecting with loved ones, there is an app for almost everything. Make your transition to the US and Oklahoma easier with our list of mobile apps to help you get around and get to know your neighbors.
Mobile apps to help you get to know your neighborhood
Get around Oklahoma City via bus, bike, rideshare, ferry or the city’s newest mode of transportation, the streetcar. Powered by Oklahoma City’s public transit system, EMBARK, the app gives you easy access to bus and streetcar schedules along with instant information on the next to arrive. It also has links to find parking and current parking rates. Need to notify EMBARK of any service issues? Easy to do so on the app and submit a picture concerning your issue. The app is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
In addition to the EMBARK Connect app, purchase your transit fare on the EMBARK Mobile Fare App. You can buy single-ride fares or annual passes right on your phone. When you’re ready to board, just show your digital ticket to your driver.
One of the best ways to get settled into a new country, learn about its people, and experience the culture is through local events. Nearify is your guide to local customs and keeps you up-to-date with events in your town. Search by location, date, or interests such as music, comedy, social causes, cooking, or anything that you can think of. The more events you show interest in, by tapping the “heart” icon, the better the app will be at recommending events that you may like.
Keep It Local
Keep It Local is a $15 per year discount card providing discounts to local retailers and restaurants in OKC and Tulsa metro areas. Download the app to find the participating store nearest you and to keep current with the savings and offers. The discounts will vary by store; some restaurants may offer a free appetizer or drink, others may offer 10% off your purchase.
Not limited to restaurants, you can receive discounts on local services, banks, and other local and independently owned businesses. With no limitation on often the card can be used within the year, it will undoubtedly pay for itself.
If driving a car is the best way for you to get around town, map apps like Waze are a must-have for any newcomer. The app is free and provides turn-by-turn directions to get you from point A to point B with ease. Waze is a crowdsourced map app which uses community feedback to alert users to accidents, alternative routes, police sightings, and other road precautions. Want to make a friend? Try the carpool feature and never ride alone.
Dark Sky weather app
Oklahoma’s open plains are a prime target for tornadoes, hot sun, gusty winds, torrential downpour, and massive hail storms. As every native Oklahoman will tell you, if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes, and it will change. Instead of waiting for the next unpredictable weather pattern, a good weather app will let you know what to expect. The Dark Sky weather app continues to top weather app lists and gain many positive reviews because of it’s accurate forecasts and easy-to-use interface. It costs $3 for Android users and $4 for Apple, and it’s a worthy investment if you want down-to-the-minute updates especially during Oklahoma’s storm season.
Mobile apps to help you get to know your neighbors
If you had a chance to read our articles about integrating into American society and books about the immigrant experience, we often talk about how American TV and books can help you to understand American culture. Hoopla is an app that gives you access to American movies, TV shows, ebooks, and audiobooks for free, right on your mobile phone. All you need is an account from your local library to access their catalog. Sign up for your free library account at any Metropolitan Library System location near you.
Meetup is your connection to your next best friend or social group. This app helps you to find others nearby that share your similar interests. Love to run? Want to enhance your English language skills? Find others from your home country? Or find people who love to read? There’s a group for that on Meetup. Find a group or create your own group to meet new people, learn something new, and get out of your comfort zone.
Food is a universal language. When you share a meal with strangers, it’s hard to leave the meal without making new friendships. The Supper Club app makes it easy to organize, host, share recipes and meet new friends. In our article, Share your culture by sharing a meal, “you are sharing your traditions and practices with your guests, opening their eyes to parts of your culture they may not have known about before. Their new understanding of you and your family can help you to fit into your community. Something as simple as hosting a dinner could be the first step in more people realizing that we are all more alike than different.”
Mobile apps to help manage your new life
Unlike Keep It Local, Groupon is a discount app goes beyond just local Oklahoma-based businesses and offers discounts on hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, events, and services. Sign up for a free account to receive emails and notifications on deals that may interest you and check out new and exciting places right in your new hometown. Groupon can help you discover Oklahoma and the United States while on a budget.
Moving to a new country is probably one of the most stressful things you will ever do. The Calm app can help you deal with your stress, get more sleep, relax, and teach you the basics of meditation. Named one of iPhone’s 2018 Apps of the Year, Calm walks you through determining your top goals and provides soothing meditation and relaxation podcasts.
The Wallet app by BudgetBakers can make banking much easier with their ability to budget in multiple currencies on a single interface. Features include managing your finances, setting budgets, transferring to various bank accounts, and creating expense records.
Mobile apps to help in your immigration journey
USCIS Civics Test Study Tools app
Prepare for your naturalization test anywhere you access your phone with the USCIS Civics Test study app. However, please note that due to federal funding, the app has not been updated to reflect some currently elected officials. For other US Citizenship apps, check out the 10 Best Citizen Test Study Apps, updated in July 2019.
Case Tracker for USCIS
The Case Tracker for USCIS app provides you with easy access to Visa bulletins, immigration news, and your case status. This app is not affiliated with USCIS, and you can access all of the same information on the USIC website. However, this app saves you from frequent visits to the website by delivering important notifications to your phone when your case receives a status change.
Practice your English or learn a new language with easy-to-grasp and straightforward daily exercises from Babbel. Babbel teaches you real-world conversation skills through multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank activities and scenarios. The lessons are short, 10-15 minute long exercises to fit your schedule and offer review sessions to reinforce what you’ve learned to commit it to memory. Babbel has more than 1 million subscribers and is one of the leaders in online language learning. The app can be tailored by how you learn best, whether it’s reading, writing, speaking, seeing, or listening.
Tarjimly connects you directly to multilingual speakers who donate their languages skills as translators and interpreters. The app was created in response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the US Refugee and Travel ban in 2017. The conversation between the users and translators are anonymous, and it is up to you on the information that you share. Via live chat, you can send text and documents, or start a phone or video call. Depending on the language, you can be paired with a translator in as little as 30 seconds and up to 5 minutes. Tarjimly’s algorithm selects the best volunteer available in their community of 8,000+ people.
Cell 411 is an app used to crowd-source assistance without involving the police by alerting trusted friends, neighbors, and communities of your whereabouts when you trigger an alert. According to their website, “Cell 411 allows you to create custom groups of your friends, neighbors or family members, and alert them whenever you need help. Your group will receive your exact location with turn-by-turn directions to come and assist you. Whether you have a flat tire, you find yourself in danger or need medical assistance, you can leverage the power of large groups of trusted people to call for help and receive it.” You can also get help wherever you need it with the video capability to live stream to your group.
Similar to Cell 411, Notifica is an emergency service app, but it is explicitly built for deportation situations. Notifica helps you prepare in advance by creating preloaded messages for specific contacts. The messages are deployed to your trusted network with just a touch of a button and can only be accessed by a PIN number that you create. All your data is cleared once you send the alert. Mention Google rewards
There are many apps available for any kind of need. Some may be free, while others require a fee to download. Before downloading, always check the app’s reviews to make sure it’s safe and while work as intended. If you’re an Android user, consider downloading the Google Opinion Rewards app earn Google Play credits by answering surveys. Any credits you receive can be redeemed at Google Play for music and paid apps. Any apps you think other newcomers to the United States might find useful? Tell us in the comments!
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