In 2010, tech entrepreneur Kunal Sheth overheard his wife and niece complaining about how they had a hard time finding public bathrooms.
"At first, I started a website that would track public bathrooms in Indian metros," says Sheth. "But obviously, no one has the time to check a website for options while theyfre on the move."
So last week, Sheth launched GottaGo, a firstof-its-kind Indian mobile app that lists restrooms in hospitals, metro stations, malls, museums and public areas on Google Maps, along with the userfs distance from the bathrooms and the route there.
GottaGo is one of a host of new apps attempting to bridge what had earlier been purely offline activities, with the convenience of the mobile world. For instance, an app called Aizoban lets you read over 45,000 manga comics, including rare finds, while TripPlans plans an entire holiday in seconds, including how much time you will need at each tourist attraction.
"Apps have been fulfilling our needs before we even realised we needed them," says Jayanto Sharma, an app developer who has overseen the development of over 45 apps in the past year.
"As app developers become more attuned to local issues, more apps are focussed on re-interpreting traditionally offline activities," he adds.
"Sometimes you need an answer right away - as with GottaGo, faster internet speeds have now made immediacy possible."
Ninjas on your phone
Aizoban is a new comic-book reader which offers over 45,000 manga comics — the Japanese comic style — for online and offline reading. The comics include more mainstream offerings such as Naruto, as well as independently-published and niche selections from Greece and Argentina. The app offer an extensive collection, and allows you to read comics offline.
Koel Chatterjee, 27-years-old, did her PhD in Korean literature at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “I missed the regular supply of manga comics I would get there,” she says. “Aizoban has titles I can’t even find online.” To download, visit f-droid.org for both Android and iOS platforms.
A new-age travel buddy
Trip Plans, an iOS app by Pune-based Triphobo, allows users to customise their travel plans, peruse other users' itineraries and choose attractions at any holiday destination. Powered by TripAdvisor ratings, the app will give you a list of attractions and activities based on traveller ratings. Once you choose some, it will organise them into an itinerary, even telling you how much time you will take at each place, and the best routes to take.
TripPlans is not available for Android yet.
No e-mail? No problem
Aman Sikka and his wife, homemaker Rajula Sikka (both 37) often needed to email contacts they only had cellphone numbers for. “When you have to share links, large attachments or simply a lot of information, a text or WhatsApp message won’t work,” says Aman.
They then created NoMyID, which allows users to send emails to others through their cellphones. People who have the app will receive the email through the app, and those who do not have it will receive a text message to download the email, through the app or otherwise. The app is available for both Android and iOS.
For the quickest pit stop
GottaGo, a week-old app uses GPS to find users the closest restrooms. Sheth and a dozen volunteers went to each restroom individually, and the app lists the 10,000 options they thought were the most safe and hygienic. The app works for Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai. “We had a volunteer in Chennai who was a pregnant woman,” says founder Kunal Sheth, 39. “She told us that some bathrooms are simply not usable for someone in her condition, so we whittled down the list from 40,000 to 10,000.”
Download GottaGo from the Google Play Store for Android, or the App Store for iOS
A hotline to your grocer
Active since the past four months, Grofers is an on-demand grocery delivery app that partners with local kirana stores to home-deliver everything from flowers, pet food and groceries to meats and baked goods. The app has no minimum order required. If customers want an item not available with the 250 listed merchants, the app will source it for them. Sharad Harjai, the marketing head at Grofers, says that the app was developed in order to serve people’s “hyper-local” needs.
Download Grofers from the Google Play Store for Android, or App Store for iOS.