59 mobile apps banned in India: Here are some alternatives

Some of the 59 mobile apps recently banned by the government were widely used by Indians; Computerworld suggests some alternatives

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India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) banned 59 apps from Chinese developers in late June, saying they engaged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India. Google and Apple removed all 59 from their respective online app stores store within days of the announcement.

Some of the apps, such as TikTok, ShareIt, and UC Browser, were extremely popular in India. While TikTok wasn’t exactly suitable for enterprise use, some of the other banned apps were, and now that they are no longer available, Indians are on the lookout for alternatives. Computerworld has compiled a list to make the switch easier. And yes, the list is as ‘Atmanirbhar’ as possible!

Instead of: UC browser, CM Browers, DU Browser, APUS Browser
Try: Epic Web Browser, Bharat Browser, Jio Browser

UC browser was the second most-used mobile internet browser in the country, behind Google Chrome. While Opera, Mozilla Firefox and Safari (for iOS), come next in browser market share in India, there are a number of home-grown alternatives you can check out.

Epic Web Bowser (Android and iOS) is built on Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome, but its developer, Bengaluru-based Hidden Reflex, says it has removed all the tracking tools and added an encrypted web proxy to protect traffic from snoopers.

Bharat Browser (Android only), from Bluesky Inventions, includes links to local content, while Jio Browser (from the mobile phone operator Jio) is a lightweight Android app with support for eight Indian languages.

Instead of: ShareIt, Xender, ES File Explorer
Try: Share ALL, Smart Share, JIOSwitch, SFT

SuperBeam, Google Drive, Dropbox, File Commander are the file transfer apps many people would turn to in order to replace ShareIt, but there are a number of desi alternatives, including Share ALL, Smart Share, JIOSwitch, and SFT. Developed by Delhi based mobile app development company Quantum4u, ShareAll allows you to password protect the file you intend to transfer. Without Bluetooth or the internet, ShareAll transfers files via WiFi File transfer. It is available only for Android users. Smart Share is available both on iOS and Android.

JioSwitch is yet another product from Reliance Retail and is compatible with both Android and iOS.  The app has high ratings in Google play, and comes with a 'No-Ad' feature.  Another feature is its cross-platform compatibility, which means data can be transferred between Android and iOS smartphones using JioSwitch.

Swift File Transfer (SFT) is an award-winning file sharing app and allows you to transfer files without internet, data cable, mobile data, or Wi-Fi. The app's transfer range is up to 30 meters. 

Instead of: CamScanner
Try: Zoho Doc Scanner, Kaagaz Scanner, SelfScan

Plenty of business processes involve scanning paper documents into electronic form, and sometimes that has to be done while on the move. Alongside the big names such as Microsoft Office Lens and Adobe Scan, there are some interesting made-in-India apps that can help. Zoho Doc Scanner recently added something new to its already-long list of features: an option to import already-scanned documents from CamScanner, smoothing the transition. SelfScan is an Android app developed by the Department of Information Technology & Electronics of the Government of West Bengal. It’s available for download from the Google, Amazon and Samsung app stores. Kaagaz Scanner is a free and ad-free app from Sorted AI in Delhi, which is also developing an automated document-management tool.

Instead of: Newsdog, UC News, QQ Newsfeed
Try: Inshorts, DailyHunt

These news apps are, perhaps, the most easily replaceable apps, given the number of news recommendation platforms India has. Inshorts and Dailyhunt, both made-in-India, are the two biggest players in the news aggregator space. Inshorts was launched in 2013 by three IITians, Azhar Iqubal, Anunay Arunav and Deepit Purkayastha. The Delhi based mobile app offers the latest news in 60 words based on the readers interest which is figured out by its AI engine.

The Bangalore based news aggregator, Dailyhunt, initially called Newshunt, was launched in 2009 by two ex-Nokia employees Umesh Kulkarni and Chandrashekhar Sohoni. It provides local language content in 14 Indian languages. Media houses like NDTV, Times Now also have their own app which can be downloaded easily from Play Store (for android users).

Instead of: Mi Video Call
Try: Jio Meet, VideoMeet, UDO, Say namaste, Floor, Airtel BlueJeans

Never mind the features: the most important things about video calling and conferencing apps are their users. The apps are useless if the people you want to chat with don’t have them. Google Duo is one of the most trusted video calling applications in India, while WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are popular alternatives. For team collaboration purposes then GotoMeetings and Google Meet could be the next options. However, you could try to convince your friends and colleagues to adopt an Indian alternative such as Jio Meet, VideoMeet, UDO, Say Namaste, FLOOR, or Airtel BlueJeans.

Instead of: WeChat, QQ International
Try: Hike Messenger, Signal, Telegram

As with video apps, what makes messaging apps useful is who else is using them. Facebook Messenger is one widely used option, but there’s also Whatsapp (owned by Facebook) and the messaging function in Instagram (also owned by Facebook).

Hike Messenger (previously Hike Sticker Chat) is an Indian alternative, while messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram purport to offer end-to-end encryption.

Instead of: QQ Mail, MailMaster
Try: Zoho Mail, Outlook, Gmail or whatever came with your phone

Most mobile phones ship with a perfectly adequate email app that you can easily set up to work with most email accounts. If your employer uses Microsoft’s cloud email service then you can download the mobile version of Outlook for iOS or Android – you can use it with other email accounts too. Google’s G Suite office productivity service includes an enterprise version of Gmail that can be accessed through a web browser or its standard Gmail mobile app. Finally, the Zoho Mail App (Android or iOS) was designed to accompany Zoho’s own office productivity suite but can be used with other email accounts too.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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