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Phuket Live Wire: The best apps for iPad owners on the island

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Live Wire: The best apps for iPad owners on the island | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Continuing my series of articles answering questions that I hear most often… it seems like half the people I know have got an iPad recently.

The question I’m hearing over and over: What apps should I put on my iPad?

There’s no definitive answer because the iPad ecosystem changes faster than a Republican primary. At last count, you had more than 500,000 apps to choose from, and the number’s going up by more than 600 per day.

Why? Money. The iPad’s booming. Apple hasn’t officially reported its sales numbers for the last quarter of 2011 yet, but it looks like they sold about 40 million iPads in the calendar year 2011. Compare that to about 350 million PCs (including Macs) sold in 2011. iPad sales are increasing rapidly – up much more than 100 per cent between the fourth quarter of 2010 and 2011. PC sales are decreasing, especially in the US – down 5 per cent year-on-year.

While nobody’s saying the PC is going away anytime soon, it’s clear that the iPad has started to grunt like an emerging 800 lb gorilla.

If you have a new iPad, there’s a handful of apps you should have downloaded by now. To get any of these apps, turn on your iPad, and touch the button for the AppStore, then search for the app by name.

If you’re on Facebook, the Facebook app is a no-brainer: using the Facebook app on the iPad is much easier than using it on the web. Ditto for Twitter. Bloomberg has an excellent news app. Weather Channel. I swear by Flipboard. Skype works like a dream.

If you’re a Windows user, the iPad works great with Windows, in spite of what people may tell you. I wrote two articles about getting iPad and Windows to work together with various apps, at Windows Secrets Newsletter. Look it up: https://bit.ly/r2Hwob and https://bit.ly/nqblsO.

Those are the important apps for every iPad owner. Those of us who live in Phuket also have a handful of apps that work great. And they’re free.

To start this guide to Phuket apps, I went to the Apple AppStore and searched for “Phuket.” Not exactly rocket science.

I was surprised that I didn’t find the two apps that were mentioned earlier in the Gazette. “Checkin Good Deals” didn’t draw a hit in the AppStore search engine. When I searched for “Tiny Coffee” I found that app in the iPhone store, and most of it works: Static (non-zoomable) maps to all of the Tiny Coffee locations, and the full menu appears on-screen. I couldn’t get the History button to work.

The FM 91.5 app also appears in the iPhone section, not in the iPad section. The app gives a live broadcast from FM 91.5, as long as you don’t switch to a different app (that’s a limitation of the iPad’s iOS, not a problem with FM 91.5). You can use the app to Request a Song and send a message to the current DJ. Unfortunately, there’s no on-screen volume control. It’s a basic app, but a nice way to listen to local radio when you’re hangin’ with your ‘Pad.

I found a couple of additional apps that appear to be very much works-in-progress. I’ll refrain from commenting on those. There are also many apps of varying quality geared to tourists: maps, reviews, typical travel magazine stuff. They’re frequently expensive. Remember that the average AppStore App sells for US$1.98.

One very pleasant discovery was that the web site Thaivisa.com has recently released two free apps – one for iPad and one for Android – and the iPad app (the one I tested) works very well. Thaivisa.com, for those who don’t know, is a remarkable source of information for foreigners living in, or visiting, Thailand. It covers visas in spades, as you would expect from the name, but thousands of posts touch on every facet of farang life. An entire forum is devoted to Phuket, another to Farang Food, another to Sports – you get the idea.

The Thaivisa iPad app is now my favorite way to look at the forums. It’s very well organized, absolutely no clutter, and as fast as can be. Unfortunately, it falls down in three places: you can’t post anything using the iPad app (the option to “Open in Safari” doesn’t work, at least on my iPad), there’s no Search capability, and you can’t use the pinch gesture to make type larger and smaller. Still, it’s an excellent app to catch up on the latest at Thaivisa.

Which brings me to my favorite local iPad app. Yes, I’m biased, but if you take a look at what’s on offer, I bet you agree. The Phuket Gazette’s app is a remarkable achievement – there are huge news organizations that don’t even come close with their iPad apps. Picture-toting tiles on the left give you quick access to the latest stories. The charm bar at the bottom has links to the Events Calendar, Issues and Answers (re-named “Expat Issues”), Classifieds, Queer News, the Lifestyle section, Sports and PGTV. Controls for resizing fonts, and sending links via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter are immediately available.

I know that many of you are thinking about coming up with your own iPad apps – I’m thinking about doing one for the Sandwich Shoppes – so I kicked around the Gazette office and asked about the details. I was surprised to find that the app was designed and built right here in Phuket. The Gazette IT Manager Seubsak (“Big”) Sahaworapun led the team.

Khun Big’s observation: “To create an App, you first need to purchase a MacBook computer and an iPad (or iPhone). You need to learn Objective-C, one of the most sophisticated object-oriented programming languages; Cocoa, Apple’s native object-oriented Application Programming Interface (API); and Xcode, a development software that integrates everything needed to compile and upload the finished product to the App Store.” One of the team members spent a week in Bangkok at an Apple briefing. The result speaks for itself.

The Phuket Gazette launched the first version of its iPad app last March. Version 1.0 tried to mimic the Gazette web site, and didn’t work very well: as iOS designers have learned over and over again, if you’re just going to copy your web site, it’s much easier to have your readers use a browser, and let them futz with scrolling and pinching. iPad apps – at least, good iPad apps – are different. They’re far more immersive, and the touch interface melds in with the content.

Version 1.0 took two programmers – working about half-time – a full year, plus a graphic artist and lots of edit time. Coming up with a good iPad app is not for the faint of heart.

The Gazette app currently in the AppStore is version 1.2, and it’s come a long way, baby, with a revamped design and full video – which posed a significant technical challenge. Give it a try.

With Woody hunkered down writing a book, the weekly Computer Clinics are taking a new turn. Until Woody emerges with an 860-page copy of “Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies” under his arm, around May or June, Seth Bareiss will hold computer sessions every-other Wednesday afternoon, from 1 to 3pm. If you have a Windows problem that needs to be solved, drop by one of Seth’s free afternoon sessions at the Sandwich Shoppes. Details in the Phuket Gazette Events Calendar.

Sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and Khun Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes.

Live Wire is
Gazette columnist Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things internet in Phuket.

Follow him on Twitter: — Woody Leonhard

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.



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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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