Apps for Olim Chadashim and tourists in Israel

  • BenitaLevin
It’s a sign of the times. You can fight it, avoid it or convince yourself you don’t need it, but a year into our move to Israel, there is no doubt that technology has helped to soften our landing. These are some of the apps we’ve been using as we acclimatise to a new country.
by BENITA LEVIN | Feb 08, 2018

Waze is your friend. Being an Israeli product, it’s probably more like a best friend here. This app has helped direct me – and then redirect me – to places near and far.

In fairness, I was an avid Waze user while driving in South Africa too, but when you’re adapting to travel on the “wrong” side of the road, having an app to guide you in the right direction is almost a necessity. It also calculates your expected arrival time – a win for all meticulous time-keepers!

Google Maps
I love this app when walking. The maps are clear and the estimated arrival times are also spot-on.

Google Translate
No matter how well you do in your Ulpan language class, this app is going to help you almost daily.

WhatsApp groups for school parents and committees promise a steady flow of messages in Hebrew, French or Russian. This app will help you with all language translations. A cautionary: much of the humour or innuendo is obviously often lost in translation, but you’ll get the general gist of what is being said.

Life 360
This app is genius. It allows you to track down the whereabouts of any activated cellphone – and by extension, its owner – at any time. Each cellphone owner obviously has to grant permission to be included. (I’ve heard of cases in which some people are not so keen to allow their nearest and dearest to track their movements!)

But for those of us who have given the green light to our immediate family members, it helps you to check that your children have arrived at school. It’s useful for your spouse to see that you’ve made it to a meeting in a new location. And it’s priceless if you lose your phone!

This is a taxi service app. It’s a similar process to Uber in that you order your lift on your phone in advance, you receive notifications when the driver is nearby and you are sent the driver’s name and number. But all vehicles are clearly marked as Gett taxis. The service isn’t cheap, but it’s reliable and prompt.

As the name suggests, this is a transportation app for people on the move. It helps you locate the quickest bus route. If you set the time you are planning to catch a certain bus, it sends you a notification when you should make your way to the bus stop.

This parking app is like an electronic parking meter. You don’t need cash on you. You can use your phone to pay for your parking bay.

Disclaimer: Before unashamedly punting this app, I need to say I have been working at this organisation for a few months. Now that that’s out the way, I’ve been struck by how people here are passionate about politics. Most people have an opinion about what is happening in the world and what should be happening. They like to stay in the loop. i24News is a 24-hour television news channel broadcasting from Tel Aviv to the US. Like many news apps the world over, users receive constant updates in the event of breaking news. They can also watch any updates they’ve missed. It’s worth checking out.

New word of the week

Shtu-yot – nonsense

Smile of the week

My sister from Cape Town came to visit this month. As we walked out of a centre in Tel Aviv, the security guard shouted out: “South Africa.” We turned to look at him, surprised at his outburst. “I know that accent very well here,” he smiled.


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