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South Africa's must-have apps to simplify your life

(Image credit: Unsplash)

If you are not stressing about the traffic, you are stressing about the load shedding schedule. There are a few apps you should always have installed on our phone - a  preferred messaging app, an email app, social media, and those that simplify life. 

Sometimes we hear about a good app, download it and all it does is take up space on your device.

To make your life easier, we've put together the definitive list of apps every South African should have. These are not your standard apps, but rather are specifically designed and optimized for South Africans, to address our relevant and unique concerns. 


(Image credit: EskomsePush)

EskomsePush, a load shedding tracking app, pings you with reminders and updates on the latest schedule.  

Using up-to-date government information, the app automatically alerts you when there is a new load shedding announcement. It also gives users a forecast for load shedding over an entire week, so you know what to expect and plan accordingly. 

You can choose the areas you specifically want updates from, like work or home. The app will send you push notifications an hour before load shedding starts and keeps you informed on how long you can expect it to to last. 

It helps save time, nobody wants to read confusing government load shedding maps. It also helps you prepare better which means you are unlikely to be caught by surprise. 

The app is pleasantly user-friendly and the only real downside is you have to keep it installed even when there isn't any scheduled load shedding, thanks to Government's inefficiency in dealing with the problem.

Available for iPhone and Android.

Lockdown Bozza

(Image credit: Lockdown Bozza)

Lockdown Bozza (Lockdown Boss) is the cleverly named app that keeps you up-to-date with lockdown rules. As their tagline says, "I am the Lockdown Bozza (Boss). I will tell you what you can and cannot do during the lockdown period." 

It is a highly efficient app that is easy to navigate. You can switch between different provinces and areas to track the level of Lockdown and the restrictions that apply. 

The app claims to only work with information supplied by the government. So all rules are officially sanctioned. This is helpful as social media is filled with contradictory messages. 

Using a traffic-light system, permitted activities are represented with a green circle, restricted activities in yellow and banned in red. 

You can favourite the activities you care about most and they will appear at the top of your feed. The app will also notify you as the level of that activity changes. 

There aren't really any cons to the app but it may only stay relevant until Lockdown ends. The app creators have hinted at more features and functionality, we will wait to see how it evolves past lockdown.

Available on iPhone and Android.


(Image credit: 22Seven)

22Seven is a budgeting app by Old Mutual, which is great to track your expenses efficiently. The best part is you don't have to be one of their clients to use it. 

There are many budgeting apps, but 22Seven is highly rated because it connects directly to your bank accounts, credit cards, accounts with stores and so many more.

This means you don't have to manually add your spend or your earnings. It may seem daunting to part with your personal information, but developers have placed a premium on security and are connected with over 100 financial institutions. 

Using the app, you can include what your budget is used for, from clothing to rent or data purchases each month. And by placing a limit, the app will alert you when you're over budget. 

It is simple, easy to use and aims to help people effectively budget their expenditure on their mobile device. 

A great bonus is the monthly reports sent to your email.

The only downside are the adverts from Old Mutual which pop up every time you open the app, but it's a small price to pay for a free app. 

Available on iPhone and Android.


(Image credit: Snapscan)

SnapcScan and Zapper are both QR code payment apps. They operate similarly, and are widely accepted by many establishments. 

If you wish to choose only one, then SnapScan is probably the better option. They have connected to more outside organisations, including mobile operators, government entities and Eskom. This means you can seamlessly use the app to buy airtime, pay parking guards, pay bills and donate to charities. 

SnapScan allows you to send money to friends and family who also have the app so they can spend it with a SnapScan merchant or in the app itself. 

Some of Zapper's benefits include building up in-app loyalty cards with the restaurants and cafés you regularly visit. It also has an in-app bill splitter so you don't have to fumble with a calculator or multiple swipes. 

Another plus is a Zapper map which lets you know which places nearby accept Zapper as payment. 

Both have a clean interface and are simple to use. Even uploading a card only requires hovering your camera over the front, rather than typing it out. 

The only real downside with either app is not all places use them and some only use one or the other. 

Available for iPhone and Android. 


(Image credit: Namola)

Namola is a safety and security app to help make contact with emergency services faster. 

The app has a clear panic button which alerts the Namola response centre who then call you back to find out what the concern is. Once they know what you need, they alert the relevant emergency services. 

There is also a track feature to add contacts who also have the app and you can choose how often, or when, you would like to track them. 

This most basic response is available in the free version of the app. If you want the expanded list of services the cost is R39/month for Namola Plus. These services include private ambulance and armed response services. 

The downside of the app is that in the free version you have to answer a call from the response team if you want them to dispatch emergency services. In some situations this would not be possible. 

Available for iPhone and Android. 

MrD Food 

(Image credit: Abigail Twigg)

Mr D Food is the local version of UberEats and is a great option to have alongside the better-known international app. 

The app is a bit clunkier than its counterpart because the pages load slower and the interface isn't quite as clean. It also includes more food chainstores like KFC and McDonalds, but has its fair share of stand-alone restaurants. 

Users are enticed with promotional deals and free delivery. It's an easy payment process with EFT, card and cash options. You can track your meal from start to finish, staying on top of when to expect your meal. 

Available for iPhone and Android.

Not quite necessary but nice to have 

DSTVNow/ Netflix/ Showmax 

(Image credit: Garvin Mungai)

Netflix, DStvNow and Showmax are great video streaming apps that are nice to have on hand if you want to catch up on shows. 

While most would prefer to watch their favourite series or movies on a bigger screen, it is nice to have access to these when you've got some time to kill. 

The app you download will depend on the subscriptions you have. All three apps are very well designed with Netflix proving to be the sleekest. 

The benefit of DStvNow compared to the others is the Live TV option, so you can tap into all content on DSTV all the time. This is especially useful for avid sports watchers. 

DStvNow and Showmax both have small pitfalls. On DStvNow, once your phone sleeps for over a few minutes it will close the app and you have to open it all over again to finish watching. On Showmax, the only frustrating aspect is it doesn't remember what you're watching so you have to search for it every time. 

Available on iPhone and Android. 


(Image credit: Bottles )

Bottles might be a necessity for some and a luxury for others. Either way if you drink alcohol it is a great and easy service. 

Much like UberEats, but for alcohol. Unlike other alcohol delivery services, Bottles gets your booze to you within 20 to 60 minutes of ordering. 

Since lockdown, the app has expanded in partnership with Pick n Pay to include groceries. This is a great addition as you can now order your groceries and alcohol all in one go. 

Much like other food delivery apps, they can be out of stock and if it's a busy weekend, like a long weekend, you could be disappointed with a smaller selection to choose from. 

Available on iPhone and Android. 

Leila Stein is an experienced multimedia journalist and content producer with a special interest in data journalism. she is skilled in news writing, editing, online writing and multimedia content production and have a Bachelor of Journalism  from Rhodes University and an Honours in Historical Studies from University of Cape Town.