It seems that Iran is once again becoming a travel spot for the foreign visitors. Here we have selected 5 essential apps for you when visiting Iran.
From the green prairies near the Caspian Sea to the hot deserts of Yazd and the captivating beaches of Kish Island, Iran’s diverse landscape has many attractions to offer its visitors. Unlike what many people assume, Iran is amongst the safest countries not just in the region, but also in the world. In the recent years, due to the devaluation of the Iranian Rial the country has seen a slight increase in the number of visitors.
The number of business travellers coming to Iran has been increasing. The Iranian diaspora are also visiting the country more than before. This means there’s going to be a bigger demand for the development of the facilities needed by the internationals visiting Iran. Technology and mobile apps are not an exception. We are expecting to see more local apps and websites developed for foreign visitors coming to Iran in the upcoming months.
These days getting around without an internet connection and some apps has become unimaginable for many people. We are so dependant to our phones that it has become hard to get some stuff done without them. In Iran, 3G and 4G internet is available all over the country. While Iran’s first operator, Hamrah-e Aval (also known as MCI) offers a vast coverage around the country, Irancell and Rightel offer a faster and more stabilized mobile internet connection.
Since the mobile data costs an arm and a leg, we recommend that you purchase an internet data package from your operator while you’re visiting Iran. Note that free Wi-fi is also available in many cafes and restaurants in Iran. The internet speed in public places is okay enough and gets the work done.
Now without any further ado, here are 5 useful mobile applications that can help you get around while you’re visiting Iran.
Foursquare is big in Iran! Whether if you’re looking for a historic monument or that famous Kebab place in the bazaar, you can find the information about it on Foursquare. Iranian users are consistently sharing their comments and photos about the restaurants, plazas, buildings and even private places thanks to the gamification system of the app. You’ll also be able to see the exact address of the place you’re looking for on the app and see the ratings of different places.
If you’d like to find new local friends and find out about the places they check-in you can download Swarm, which is the companion app of Foursquare. Swarm lets users to share their locations within their social network. It’s common for users on the app to add people they don’t know personally just to find out where they check-in and maybe meet up with them. After all privacy is dead these days!
Snapp is the local version of Uber in Iran. You can easily register on the app with your Google account. The next step is to verify your number with a verification code that is sent to your phone and you’re all set to go. All you need to do is to mark your current place on the map and select your destination and watch the car on the map as it makes its way to you. There is only one problem…everything is in Farsi!
Hopefully the app would also have an English version in the future but for now you can ask one of the locals to teach you how to use the application. To be fair snapp has a intuitive user interface which makes it very easy to user even for someone with limited knowledge of Persian vocabulary. If you’re lucky you might be offered a cold beverage in the car to make the ride even sweeter!
UPDATE: Snapp’s new version is out. You can now switch the language to English or French.
3. Google Translate
Google Translate has made translations easy as a pie. If you’re having a hard time understanding what someone is saying in Farsi you can just open your Google Translate app and ask the person to speak in the microphone. The app then shown you the translations within seconds. The app also lets draw with your finger as a keyboard alternative.
Google Translate also has a feature where the user can point at a picture with a text and see the instant translation, but unfortunately this feature is yet not available for Persian. Note that if you’re using an Android phone you have the advantage of downloading languages onto your device so you can use the app even when you’re offline.
4. Tehran Metro
Tehran is one of the most traffic congested cities in the world and getting around the city in some hours is a headache. Tehran’s subway system connects different parts of the city and as the number of operational lines and the stations increases, the system map may seem complicating. Thanks to Tehran Metro app, users are able to find the exact position of a station on the map, find the train arrival times, see the facilities of each station and plan their trip using the smart pathfinder system which is built in on the app. And yes, the app is bilingual and quite easy to use!
5. Google Maps
If you’re using an Android phone, you probably already have Google Maps installed on your phone. And if you’re using an iPhone forget about the built-in “Maps” app developed by Apple! Google Maps offers a far better and detailed map of the cities and roads in Iran. Since a couple of months ago, Google opened the traffic feature for the streets of Iran by using the user’s location as a source to estimate the traffic. To Read more about this matter read this article.
These are only a few of the necessary apps – or as I like to call them the survival apps – which you can use while you visit Iran. There’s a huge gap in the travel and tourism section of the mobile apps created by Iranian developers. We hope to see more apps designated for travellers coming to Iran in the upcoming months.