New Delhi: With the Covid pandemic forcing entire countries indoors and limiting social interactions, apps have seen a boom in business. In India, from the central government to local bodies, all have been part of that boom, having launched at least 110 apps in two months to track the disease and also help people.
Among these are not only Covid-related ones — at least 66 such apps have been launched so far — but also other kinds of public service applications. About 10 are aimed at enabling online learning for students, four are for monitoring the weather, 12 were set up to help migrants find jobs, and at least 11 are being used for delivering essentials and food, including three specifically for delivering fish.
Most of these apps are on Google Play Store.
Here’s a quick reckoner on the non-Covid apps that were launched and how useful they have been.
Released by the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Development Corporation, Meengal app was created to help delivery of fish during lockdown. Developed by Chennai-based start-up called Bytizem, the app has a simple and informative user interface.
It was launched on 14 April and has since raked in about 10,000 downloads and is rated 3.6 on Google Play Store.
Through the app, the fisheries department supplies fresh prawns, crab and fish as well as pickled versions of the seafood.
Tamil Nadu isn’t the only state to have capitalised on their seafood market. West Bengal also released an app called the State Fisheries Department Corporation LTD-SDFC. However, the app hasn’t done too well, garnering a rating of about 2.2 on the Google Play Store. Users complained that orders were not delivered for days.
The Bihar government also sells fish through its existing DOFAHD Bihar app, on which the state fisheries department has added a buyer-seller module. It has 5,000 downloads on the Google Play Store and 24 reviews, of which 15 were by dissatisfied users.
Qtoken is the Delhi government’s mobile app to issue e-tokens to customers looking to shop at government liquor stores. The app was launched on 8 May as a means to regulate crowds queuing up at liquor stores after they reopened.
The app is no longer available on Google’s Play Store, but can be accessed on the Qtoken site. It permits a registration of only 50 tokens per hour, which means a customer has to keep revisiting the site to catch a booking window. Despite several technical glitches and crashing often, the website saw 4.75 lakh tokens being issued within three days of its launch.
Tamil Nadu and Kerala also launched similar apps to avoid people crowding liquor stores.
Kerala’s BevQ is available on Google Play Store. Launched on 27 May by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation, it has a 3.4 rating and over 1 million downloads. However, reviews indicate that the interface isn’t very user-friendly. People also said they were not able to generate a token.
Easy TASMAC was launched in Tamil Nadu after the Madras High Court ordered liquor stores to be shut down on 8 May, but allowed online purchasing of alcohol. However, the app in no longer available on Google Play Store.
Launched by the National Informatics Center to help farmers transport their produce, Kisan Rath has over 1,00,000 downloads on the Play Store and a rating of 3.7. The app’s main aim was to bridge the gap between farmers and agri-traders. User reviews showed that a common complaint was login issues.
In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched eGramSwaraj portal to ensure transparency in the Panchayat Raj system in the country. The app showcases the progress of various activities taken up by the Panchayati Raj bodies and the fund utilisation.
In its updated version on 15 May, 21 days after its launch, the complete application was made available in Hindi.
The app has a high 4.2 rating on the Play Store and over 100,000 downloads, but comes with mixed reviews, including complaints about the interface.
Pravasi Rahat Mitra
Technosys Services Private limited developed this app on behalf of the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh. Since its launch on 9 May, it has garnered only about 1,000 downloads and has zero reviews so far. This app is meant to provide assistance to migrants returning to the the state.
Apart from UP, several states launched similar apps for returning migrants, such as Bihar government’s Bihar Sahayata App.
Jharkhand launched the Jharkhand Chief Minister Special Assistance Scheme, an app for migrants stuck outside the state. The app, which can be downloaded from the state government’s website, was set up to send migrants a one-time direct benefit transfer from the government.
The Karnataka government app was launched to give students access to crash courses for CET and NEET aspirants. Created by DigiLearn, a Hyderabad-based edtech company, GetCetGo claims to have an integrated learning content module and provides performance based analytics. With over 50,000 downloads, it has garnered a user rating of 3.9 on the Google Play Store with many students saying they found it helpful. The company has also been responding to user complaints on Play Store.
Another e-learning application that was launched was Iscuela, by the Punjab government. A syllabus-based interactive learning app for students in classes 1-10, the app has videos, assessments and pop quizzes. Developed by Chandigarh-based Esparanza Innovations, it has a separate login for teachers as well. It has a user rating of 4.2 on the Play Store.
Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping or Aseem is an app launched by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship only three days ago. The app provides information regarding available workforce to employers seeking skilled labour. It is built to hold candidate data and claims to have job offers for over 13,000 positions.
Bengaluru-based Betterplace developed the app in collaboration with the National Skill Development Corporation.
The Karnataka government set up a WhatsApp chat application that doubles up as a helpline number. The application, managed Italy-based Kaleyra-an, claims to service around 11,000 requests daily. Citizens typically use this to seek help with getting essentials delivered. The helpline number is operated by volunteers.
Then, on 22 April, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa launched an app for the same, called Homeline. The app claims to have geo-mapped 16,000 grocery, medical, vegetable and fruit vendors and can provide deliver assistance ranging from food to medicines. However, the app isn’t available on Google Play Store currently.
Similar to Homeline, the Haryana government launched HelpMe, which aimed to connect citizens to delivery services for dry ration, cooked meals and even doctors. However, on downloading the app, one is taken to a ‘Migrant movement’ mobile page, which doesn’t lead anywhere. Nevertheless, the app has over 100,000 downloads and user rating 3.4.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.