The government has just banned 59 apps, which are from Chinese companies, as potential threats to national security. It's not clear at this moment how the list of apps was created, and civil society groups like the Internet Freedom Foundation say that this ban might not be proper use of Section 69A of the IT Act. However, given the tension between India and China, it could take some time to resolve the issue, and if you're a regular user of one of the 59 banned apps, you're probably wondering what to do next.
You can see the full list of 59 banned apps here to see whether any of the apps that you regularly use have been included in the list. From the apps that were banned, looking at the conversation on social media, the ones that people are talking about and are most worried about are TikTok, UC Browser, Shareit, CamScanner, Shein, Mi Community, Club Factory, Xender, Mi Video Call, and WeChat.
These are all highly popular apps, and it's not surprising that people are worried about how to replace their favourite apps, but we have some alternatives that you can try for each of these apps.
There are a number of apps like TikTok including Indian alternatives, Mitron and Chingari. We can't really recommend either as they're still not well established, don't offer very polished experiences. Instead, you might be better off switching to Instagram for now, and in fact, many of the popular creators on TikTok already have a presence on Instagram as well.
Although UC Browser is popular in India, it's still far behind Chrome in popularity according to Statcounter, and that is a perfectly good alternative to use. Mozilla Firefox is another good alternative, which regularly introduces new features such as its own VPN, and so that's our recommendation.
A popular app to transfer files between phones, Shareit can be really useful, but worry not if you depended on the app a lot. For iOS users, the built in Airdrop function is an incredibly simple way of transferring different documents as long as you're inside the Apple ecosystem. For an Android user, Google's own Files Go is probably the best way to handle the same tasks, for now. It will help you manage your files, clean up space on your phone's storage, and transfer them without using data.
Files Go on Android
For long, CamScanner has been the app to use to scan documents using your phone. If you've tried to back up physical documents and books, you know how powerful and easy to use this app can be. However, of late, alternatives like Microsoft Lens and Adobe Scan has done a great job of filling the same role. Our pick is Microsoft Lens because it's just that little bit more user friendly, in our opinion.
A popular platform for women's fashion, Shein scored points from its users for its large collection of reasonably priced, trendy clothes. Given how personal a matter fashion is, it's hard to give a specific recommendation for apps you can use in place of this one, but Myntra is the biggest fashion retailer in India, and that would likely be the easiest option for anyone to try.
Mi Community is the official Xiaomi Forum, and as such, there's no good replacement for this app if you're looking for Xiaomi news or updates from the company. Gadgets 360 can keep you up to date on the important news, but since the government's notice talks about apps, it's possible that the website will remain active.
A fashion, beauty and lifestyle e-commerce store, Club Factory offered a little bit of everything for people who wanted to shop for a lighter, a speaker, jeans, and dress shirts all in the same place, while looking for the best deals. While there's no single site we would recommend, Gadgets 360's sister platform Pricee lets you search for the same breadth of products and compare prices from different sites to find the best deals.
Like Shareit, Xender is also an app that allows you to transfer files such as your music or photos or other documents wirelessly without using data. And like Shareit, the ways to replace it are also fairly straightforward. If you're on the Apple ecosystem, then you can just use Airdrop, while Android users can use Files Go.
Files Go on Android
Mi Video Call
Xiaomi's own video calling and chat application, Mi Video Call is one of the 59 apps banned by MEITY. The good news is that there's no shortage of apps that can allow you to chat or call over the Internet — the most popular of which is of course WhatsApp. While there are other alternatives that you can use, it's pretty safe to assume that every person you want to talk to already has WhatsApp and so that's the app we'd recommend.
Much like the Mi Video Call app, WeChat is also easy to replace thanks to the wide range of call and chat apps that are available. Once again, we'll stick to our original recommendation of WhatsApp though, as the most widespread and well known application in this space, as it's almost certain that the people you want to talk to also use it, so you don't have to convince them to download another app.
WWDC 2020 had a lot of exciting announcements from Apple, but which are the best iOS 14 features for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.