22 useful smartphone apps in Dubai

Food deliveries, cinema tickets, parking meters and much more just a click away

22 useful smartphone apps in Dubai

From food delivery to parking via taxi bookings, we round up the top Dubai apps that aim to make your life that little bit easier.

Many Dubai residents will agree that one of the big draws to life in this city is having numerous services at your fingertips. With a growing number of local apps being developed here every month, many businesses and government services in Dubai now have convenience down to an art. In recent weeks, a slew of new smartphone apps have launched, making even the simple things we do more efficient. According to a survey conducted by UK research company Portio Research there will have been more than 800 million smartphones shipped worldwide by the end of the year and 14 percent of those are in the MENA region. This year, ABI Research predicts that 56 billion smartphones will be downloaded worldwide, with a percentage of those homegrown Dubai apps. Here we round up some top local apps and put them to the test.

Food on click
An extension of the popular website, this app lists most of Dubai’s larger outlets from McDonald’s and Burger King to Circle Cafe and Domino’s pizza. With helpful categorisation through food types, areas and average delivery times, if you’re looking for food on-the-go, this simple, straightforward app does the job.
Free. iPhone, www.itunes.apple.com Android, play.google.com www.foodonclick.com

Time Out Dubai
If you’re heading out or looking for a good deal, our expert knowledge sits in your pocket in the guise of this clever app. With maps embedded to help you reach your destination and venues categorised by price and location with our top ten picks for each category – what can we say: we think it’s the best guide to Dubai ever.
Free. iPhone, www.itunes.apple.com www.timeoutdubai.com

The Dubai Mall
When you’re shopping somewhere as vast as The Dubai Mall, navigating your way around can be a challenge. Luckily, this app uses GPS to pinpoint your exact location on a 3D map. With shops logically categorised and info on stores that are running money-saving offers, this app is well-designed, helpful and simple. It even reminds you where you’ve parked.
Free. iPhone, www.itunes.apple.com Android, play.google.com www.thedubaimall.com

With real time flight information along with flight status updates, this clever app assures there will be no looking bewildered at the departure board. There’s also shopping, food and drink info; our only gripe with it is the unimaginative use of colour and design.
Free. iPhone, www.itunes.apple.com Android, play.google.com www.dubaiairport.com

Big Bus Tours
This app provides handy information on local landmarks and what to look out for. Designed to be used in conjunction with the actual tour, it also provides 3D maps along with useful reminders of where you can get on and off the bus. Our only worry is that if you spend the journey playing with your phone, you might miss seeing the actual attractions.
Free. iPhone, www.itunes.apple.com Android, play.google.com www.bigbustours.com/eng/dubai

Cleartrip allows you to search and book flights, hotel and package holidays instantly from your smartphone. What’s great is that it searches flights from a wide range of airlines, saving you valuable search time. The app developers are based in India and we found the most useful for travel between there and the UAE with other destinations less well served.
Free, iPhone, www.itunes.apple.com Android, play.google.com

Dubai mParking
A convenient way to pay for parking in Dubai. The app automatically composes an SMS to send to the RTA, using information it has saved from your parking history. So, there is no need to re-enter your parking details. It also sends alerts when your parking expires.
Dhs4. iPhone, www.itunes.apple.com Android, play.google.com www.mpark.rta.ae

The app version of this popular video-calling tool is a doddle to navigate and allows you to upload your phone book contacts to your Skype account for easy use. If you’re in the middle of a Skype call and your phone rings, however, the incoming call overrides the app.
Free. Available on Apple, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices. www.skype.com

Reel Cinemas
Book tickets while you’re on the move with this app for theatres in The Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina Mall. While it sometimes struggles to load the promotions page, show times for both cinemas are easy to locate. But it doesn’t let you book seats that leave single seat gaps – tricky if you’re booking two seats in a four-seat row.
Free. Available on Android and Apple devices. www.reelcinemas.ae

Vox Cinemas
This recently updated app lets you view screenings by movies, location or experience (Gold, Max or Plus). Much like the Reel app, it’s a straightforward way of booking your seats, though we would like to see our payment details retained by both in order to get an even more streamlined experience.
Free. Available on Android and Apple devices. www.voxcinemas.com

RTA Dubai
Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority’s nifty app lets you calculate the fare between Metro destinations, check your NOL balance, pay for parking, book a taxi and find out about current projects being undertaken by the organisation. Sadly, the aspects of the app which rely on your location to provide you with the nearest Metro or bus station are not quite as seemless as we would want.
Free. Available on Android, Blackberry, Apple and Windows devices. www.rta.ae.

Dubai Metro
Also listed under ‘Dubai Metro2’, this app from the RTA helps Metro users make better sense of the two different lines, as well as listing timings in each direction for both green and red lines. Rules of the Metro are also featured, in case you need to brush up on them, as well as the measurements that are permitted for luggage (handy if you’re heading to the airport).
Free. Available Android and Apple devices www.rta.ae

Dubai Map and Walks
Existing walking tours on this app include art and culture, shopping and Dubai landmark options (each detailing the number of sights taken in and the duration in hours) as well as the choice to create your own tour. Some of the ‘sights’ listed by the app are a little dubious, such as Park Place and Chelsea Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road and Harvester’s pub in the Crowne Plaza. On the upside, the descriptions of each location are surprisingly detailed, though there’s no audio.
Free. Available on Android, iPhone devices. www.gpsmycity.com

The online job site’s app allows users to search for vacancies in the UAE and beyond, with the option of using other social networks to find connections who work at the company. You can apply directly through the app, by first uploading your CV to the website.
Free. Available on Android, Blackberry, iPhone devices. www.bayt.com

Aimed at shoppers, the app offers discounts on retail in Dubai’s main malls, providing voucher codes for use at stores such as Rivoli, La Senza and Carrefour. However, at the time of trying the app, there was neither a great number or variety of deals, nor a large number of Dubai shopping hubs listed. Free. Available on Android, Blackberry, iPhone devices.

Handy for those of us who have trouble remembering to pay bills, this app is perfect for erratic financiers and provides a breakdown of your water and electricity services charges, as well as giving you the option to pay your bill online. All you need is your DEWA contract number. It also features educational videos on how to save on water and electricity, which we quite like.
Free. Available on Apple devices. www.dewa.gov.ae

UAE Yellow Pages
Your go-to for contact info on local businesses, enter your own search or browse through an A to Z of categories. One of the most useful features is being able to narrow your searches down to distance from your current location.
Free. Available on Apple devices. www.yellowpages.ae

Business in Dubai
Developed by the Department of Economic Development with the aim to streamline the process for small business start-ups, this app allows you to register your business and trade name. As well as setting up a profile you can renew your licence, reserve a trade licence and make enquiries, plus view your licence info.
Free. Available on Apple devices. www.dubaided.gov.ae

If you’re budget-crazed, you’ll find this consumer app extremely useful. It lets you search grocery products across supermarkets and select items as if you were writing a shopping list. From there, you can perform a search for all of the ticked items in supermarkets including Carrefour, Al Maya and Choitram’s to see which is the cheapest.
Free. Available on Android www.sallety.ae

Register yourself as a blood donor and search healthcare professionals by speciality, gender, nationality or facility. Make sure you search via category to get the best results. From there the app provides you with a list of healthcare and medical outlets choices.
Free. Available on Apple devices. www.dha.gov.ae

Anybody who remembers traffic congestion pre-Salik will know Dhs4 is a small price to pay for the relatively empty roads. The RTA’s handy app allows users to recharge their account and, usefully, keep a log of every payment made.
Dhs7. Available on iPhone Android, Windows Phone, itunes.apple.com

This local car service allows users to create an account, from which you can book a vehicle to pick you up, using the map to plot their location (not always accurate), or by typing in the location (more reliable). You can also get a fare estimation.
Free. Available on iPhone, Android, Blackberry devices. www.careem.com

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