Tech Savvy A-Z Apps Series: C = Communication

We live in a global village and technology is a big reason for this.  It makes the largest of distances, smaller at the click of a button.  Need something?  Why be limited to your physical location when you can jump online and find exactly what you’re looking for in Sweden, the US or the other side of Australia? Maybe you love to travel.  With travel costs and times getting better and better, you may have made many friends in many different locations around the world.  Communication methods have evolved at an astonishing rate in the past 5-10 years. No longer are we limited to picking up the phone and hoping your recipient is at home.  Email is the favoured method for workplaces, you can text your mates or family on the go and there’s a social media app for just about everyone!

textingSocial media can be wordy, quick, photographic or video based.  Many people (and we thank our readers for this) love to receive the latest blog post in their inbox.  Other’s prefer bite-sized updates and like to skim through the latest tweets to keep up with their social circle.  Maybe reading/writing isn’t your thing.

instagram-1594387Can’t help but take photos of the world around you?  Many out there are exactly the same. Amateurs to professional photographers and everyone in between have made Instagram a hugely popular platform for communicating with others via a visual medium.  Instagram have also incorporated video into their offerings giving people further options for expressing themselves.  Scroll through the images and videos…

 allows users to log in and express themselves in 140 characters or less.  This makes information sharing quick and if you add in a photo or link, you can get your point across without much effort. One of the biggest social media sites around, it has maintained this short, sharp and shiny method of communicating for the last ten years!
Vimeo is dedicated for those who love the moving image and it’s not just for amateurs with crazy cats or daredevil tricks.  Budding and professional filmmakers alike use the space for testing ideas, techniques and gaining support.


Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms that draws in people from all over the world, whatever your age.  The many apps and different ways Facebook have developed to communicate, have kept it’s followers keen to keep using it regardless of age or technical ability.

has become very popular recently with it’s instant, expressive and disposable photos and videos with fun edits sent to one or many.  You can grab a selfie, write onto the photo and send off to your mate.  They can then respond with text or another photo. It’s all fleeting though as one of Snapchat’s popular feature means everything self deletes after use.

So this leads me into the big issue with social media crossing borders; language.  This is where the image based platforms work best.  It takes no understanding of language or grammar to appreciate a photograph of a silly cat video, baby’s first steps, amazing scenery, travel adventures or creative short video. So what if these images and videos inspire you to get travelling, how can you prepare for crossing the language barrier?

There are quite a few apps now available to teach, assist and practice with new languages.  Many of them also include a network of community members that you can interact with to further your proficiency in your language of choice.

Google Translate – this is a free app from iTunes App Store & Google Play and is a simple, but very helpful conversion tool for travelling.  You can speak something in your own language and it will translate it into the language of the person you’re conversing with.  It works the other way too, get them to speak and it’ll be converted back to English.  It can also work with visual signage, which is very helpful for navigating around an unfamiliar place. There’s also an option to save certain phrases to repeat for later.

This is great if you’re going for a once-off trip somewhere and don’t plan to use the language again, but what if you get there and you’re bitten by the ‘travel bug’?  You’ll want to come back or explore more wonderful places around the globe.  That’s when you realise you’ll need to learn a language or two, because there’s only so far you can get with gesticulations and an expressive face…

Duolingo – is a great free app available from the iTunes App Store, Google Play & Windows Phone Store that teaches language using games and rewards to help your progress.  With a variety of challenges for each lesson, in bite sized chunks and hints on how to improve, it’s quick and easy to learn with this app.
owl-happy2xBabbel – free app from iTunes App Store & Google Play with in-app purchases.  A self paced learning style that gives you options on what part of the language you’d like to learn be it for travel or business needs. It will also keep you up to date with regular review sessions and speech recognition technology to make sure you’re really getting that pronunciation correct.

So whether you’re keeping in touch with friends and family in the same town, city or across the globe or admiring the view of the Canadian Rockies posted by an Instagram traveller, there are a multitude of apps you can choose from that will help you connect and communicate.

Post Contributor: Melinda Kennedy


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