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Slick New App Gives You Pollution Data With a Bit of Attitude

Posted: 05/21/2014 5:40 pm

In most parts of the world, people check the weather before they go outside. That may happen in China too, but the more important question is, “What is today’s PM2.5?”

The fact we even know what that means is a sad commentary on the times we live in. While most of us (though not all) have clearly made peace with China’s lung-blackening pollution levels, we still want to know when it makes more sense to watch a movie rather than go for a run. To help with that, a slick new iOS app called Airpocalypse has been released detailing pollution levels in 16 Chinese cities, including Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong (Zhuhai clearly not needing it).

There are many apps out there already, but this one adds the current temperature, forecast and the pollution report, and does it all with a bit of ‘tude. The app’s slogan? “The air in China sucks. We hate it too.”

You can download it here (iOS only at this point). Check out the screenshots below.


New app gives waiting times at all Shenzhen-Hong Kong border crossings

Posted: 12/6/2013 11:00 am

This falls under the “extremely useful information” category: the Hong Kong government has just released a mobile application that shows users how long waits are at six border crossings between the SAR and Shenzhen.

There was once a day when an app like this wasn’t needed. Few Mainlanders had the ability to get into Hong Kong, and the crossings were relatively stable. But as the individual visitor scheme has expanded, more and more Mainland tourists have been flooding into Hong Kong. About 35 million Mainlanders visit per year, with that expected to increase to 50 million by 2015. This has meant waits at some border crossings – hello, Shenzhen Bay? – that are two and three hours long.

The app won’t win any awards for UI design, but it tells you what you need to know. It lists the wait at each border crossing in either direction, as well as the opening hours of each crossing.

The app also has the unfortunate name of HK ImmD. You can download it for iOS and Android.

(h/t @SlackerScholar)


Rent-a-ride app Uber launches in Shenzhen

Posted: 12/3/2013 11:00 am

Popular mobile app Uber has launched in Shenzhen, its second city in China after Shanghai.

Uber allows users of Android and iOS to request a car pick them up and confirm the fare, which is paid for via credit card through the mobile device. It’s become quite popular in the United States, so Uber has been expanding quickly in Asia.

Tech In Asia reports the launch in Shenzhen is expected to be low key, at least in the beginning:

As is Uber’s usual strategy, this is a limited, “secret Uber” roll-out that serves as a testing phase, probably for a couple of months. Uber’s blog post on this topic (via TheNextWeb) notes that Uber’s limos will be available around the Nanshan, Futian and Luohu neighborhoods of Shenzhen, but might be in short supply for now.

Uber’s minimum fare in Shenzhen is RMB 40 ($6.50), which is more than three times the starting rate of a local taxi.

Uber’s blog post on the launch in Shenzhen explains how the service works:

Download the Uber app on your iPhone or Android device and register with your credit card. Pinpoint your location and within minutes of requesting, a professional driver will appear with a luxurious Audi A6L stocked with Wi-Fi, water and chargers. Your private driver will be ready to take you wherever you want – whether you are crossing the HK Border, strolling the OCT Loft, or dining at your favorite spot in CoCo Park.

New to Uber? Use the promo code “SecretSZ” for one free ride up to RMB 200.

Uber is something we’ll definitely try out at least once (especially during rush hour when taxis are hard to find). It’s interesting that Uber picked Shenzhen as an early launch city, even beating out Beijing and Guangzhou. It speaks to the city’s cutting-edge and tech-friendly image.

(h/t @lantaumama)


Apple’s head of retail confirms Shenzhen store in visit to Beijing

Posted: 10/19/2012 9:00 am

(Photo from

There has been a lot of speculation over a future Apple Store in Shenzhen.  We confirmed in June that Apple had applied to the Shenzhen government to open a store in the posh Holiday Plaza Mall in Nanshan, and photos there certainly indicate an Apple store is on the way.

But until today, Apple had kept quiet about it.  John Browett, who is the company’s head of retail, is in Beijing to open the capital’s third Apple store in Wang Fu Jin and confirmed to journalists that the Shenzhen store is coming.

For those who just can’t wait, there’s now a second Apple store location in Hong Kong, conveniently located on the East Rail Line which connects the Lo Wu border crossing with downtown.  The store is in Festival Walk at Kowloon Tong station, which is about 35 minutes from the boundary.

Sadly for the iPhanatics in the Guangdong capital, no word yet of a Guangzhou store.



New Dongguan “massage” iPhone app gives new meaning to FaceTime

Posted: 03/20/2012 6:06 pm

(Photo from Shanghaiist)

Our good friends up in Shanghai have broken a story regarding a new iPhone app that gives users information about massage parlors in Dongguan.

It’s common knowledge that the vast expanse of land between Shenzhen and Guangzhou is known as a sex capital in China.  Hong Kong and Taiwanese businessmen frequent the area, and it’s popular with foreigners as well.  How Dongguan developed this industry (and its accompanying reputation) would make a good article for another day.

But if it was popular before, it could shoot through the stratosphere based on the press it will soon get, courtesy of an iPhone app.  Shanghai Daily has stumbled across an app which provides detailed information about massage parlors in the city.  It surprisingly passed Apple’s normally strict app approval process:

“With only a taxi price (30 yuan), you can know details of clubs and services,” Peng Lizhang, the app’s developer, says in its description.

Using the app, people can find the names and locations of the massage clubs, the number of women in each and the number of those women who are “specially recommended.” Users can call the clubs directly through the application.

That Apple has approved such an application with such obvious pornographic content reflects badly on its examination team, according to TechWeb, an IT forum and information website.

The app, called Dongguan Massage Guide, is in Chinese only and organizes the parlors by district.

The minor scandal here isn’t that such an app exists, it’s that Apple approved it.  Either they weren’t aware of what the app does, or let it pass as it contains no pornographic images.  While it officially is designed to help ‘tourists’ find ‘spas’ for a ‘massage’, anybody who’s lived in China long enough knows that those words are euphemisms for.

It will be interesting to see how, or whether, Apple responds.

 (h/t Shanghaiist)

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