A Guide to Living in Cebu: Top 5 Most Useful Mobile Apps in the Metro (When Technology and Lifestyle Collide)

Useful Mobile Apps

For the month of April, we will be doing a series — a travel guide on how to visit, stay, and even live in the beautiful, sunny, beachy, tropical, island province of Cebu and do all that swimmingly (pun intended) well! The series will be compressed in 3 easy to digest parts and you may have read about a couple of these spread out through various posts here on site. This will include practical and fun tips and tricks that will ease even a local’s life in Cebu.

Okay now you may be wondering why we chose to write about technology first. Why not the basics like where to eat, public transportation, where to stay, where to go etc? Well, what if we told you that all of those things are all surprisingly achievable with one swipe of your finger? It’s true! Since the boom of mobile application technology, companies have capitalized on developing apps that a vast majority of consumers will benefit from. In the global market, you’ll see apps on both iOS App store and Google Playstore that satisfy the daily needs of a typical person and adds several layers of ease and convenience to the experience. Apps like Uber, Lyft, Amazon, and Shipt, to name a few, have provided revolutionary ways for people to work through their day to day routine — be it as simple as getting a ride home or shopping online at the comforts of your home.

Staying in Cebu, there are several apps that will offer you convenient means of doing your day to day activities. When you intend to stay long in the city, you may want to free up some storage space in your phone and download these apps that will surely make your life here in Cebu easy and hassle-free. We will list the top 5 most-used free to download apps by both locals and tourists alike. You don’t have to download all of these apps and just choose the ones that you think you’ll get the most out of in terms of convenience and features, but if you would like to be on the go during your stay in Cebu, these apps will definitely come in handy when it comes to saving you precious time, especially if you are unfamiliar with places in the city. It is noteworthy that these apps are all technology that however far advanced in features and usability, are imperfect and would still have rooms for improvement. It is also important to remember that you will not be able to download or use any of these apps if you are not connected to the internet. Apart from that, you can enjoy these apps for the convenience and their pure awesomeness.

No. 1 – AirBnB

A revolutionary approach to quality homestay

AirBnB is an internationally owned app that acts as a third-party software as a service mainly for app users to either book lodging and accommodation or can list their properties as available for such service. The app includes mostly homestays, which are privately owned or real estate properties that are offered up for tourist accommodations. In Cebu, the most common listings that you will find available for booking principally consists of chic condominium units located near commercial and entertainment hubs of the metro. The app is very easy to use and gives the users a convenient way of getting accommodation that is budget friendly and is different from staying at a hotel. Aside from lodging options, the app also features different tourist experiences in and around the location that you have selected. You may use the service without downloading the app. You can set up your account and book your accommodation via their website, but if you want to be on the go, having the app on your phone will give you a more streamlined and user-friendly interface. This app will give you a convenient vacation experience if you can forego the perks of staying at a full-service hotel.

  • Pros:Budget friendly and bigger options for travel accommodations
  • Cons:Most properties do not have room or housekeeping services
  • How to Use:Watch the Youtube video by Techboomers on How to Use AirBnB
  • Tips:You can filter and choose properties based on accommodation features and amenities that you will need.
  • References:AirBnB Website
  • Link to Download in iOS Device:AirBnB on the Apple App Store
  • Link to Download in Android Device:AirBnB on Google Play Store

No. 2 – Grab

The next level of ride sharing experience

Grab is a Malaysian company (MyTeksi) came to the Philippines in early 2013 and started their operations in Manila by signing up taxi cab drivers for the users of the then taxi-hailing app. This was well received in the Filipino market considering the notoriety of taxi cab drivers in overpricing their passengers. In 2016, Grab came to Cebu, still as a taxi hailing app and later included options to book private cars (similar to the international ride hailing app, Uber) to take passengers to their destinations. This feature was also welcomed by the average Cebuano commuter since it gave them the option to book a private, well-maintained car over a taxi cab. There is also a layer of passenger protection in terms of sharing the coordinates of your location real time during your trip to your family or friends, which will come in handy for that midnight commuter. Another cool feature of the Grab Car service is knowing the fixed rate fare upon booking so there is no need to worry about metered fare going sky high if you suddenly get caught in a heavy traffic jam. You can opt to pay your fare with cash, debit/credit card, or Grab Pay which you can top up using various payment methods. Using this app provides that ease of securing a ride and avoiding the long taxi queues, especially during rush hour or peak holiday seasons. The app has now evolved to include more services apart from Grab Taxi and Grab Car and now offers small parcel intra-city delivery and food delivery services. If you don’t mind riding with strangers, you can also try the Grab share feature that allows ride sharing for passengers within the same route, this means cheaper fares. The ride hailing feature is still the most frequently used for the convenience it gives.

  • Pros:No need to wait for long taxi queues
  • Cons:Availability of drivers limited on the outskirts of metro Cebu
  • How to Use:Watch the Youtube video by Alice Mate on How to Use GRAB
  • Tips:If you are not strictly time-bound, wait for the peak hours to pass so surge prices will go down for your booking price.
  • References:GRAB Website
  • Link to Download in iOS Device:GRAB on the Apple App Store
  • Link to Download in Android Device:GRAB on Google Play Store

No. 3 – FoodPanda

Friendly food delivery service

FoodPanda is another great app to have on your phone. This service allows you to order food via the app from your favorite food establishments (that usually do not have a delivery option) and have it delivered right at your doorsteps! It is widely available in Metro Cebu and select cities in the outskirts of the city center. The app offers food choices from both local and international restaurants. You can sort and filter according to price range, mode of payment (cash on delivery or via credit card), and type of cuisine that you fancy getting. This will come in handy for people who are working so they would be able to factor out the travel time to the restaurants during their lunch hour. This is also good for people who would want to stay at home and order their meals in. The food is properly prepared and packed by the restaurant, and taken by a motorcycle delivery from FoodPanda. You can track all the stages of the progress of your purchase from placing the order to having it handed to you. Although there is an associated minimum order amount for most restaurants, and a delivery fee, you can still save time and money from having to travel to and from the resto. It is an app that takes a food court right into your mobile device, thus giving you a wide variety of options while allowing you to stay at home.

No. 4 – Honestbee

2019/05/28update※As of writing, Honestbee has temporarily suspended operations in the Philippines. Check out their Facebook page for updates.

Groceries from the store to your doorstep

Honestbee is another useful app for both locals and tourists. This service offers a concierge style shopper and delivery service for groceries and other commodities. The app includes a selection of supermarket items from various stores in Cebu. The company trains their concierge shoppers well so you can expect a courteous and professional customer service. They are also trained on goods selection for fresh produce like fruits, vegetables, and meats. For Cebu, the app needs a 2 hour lead time from when you placed your order to the schedule that it will be delivered to you. What’s good about the app is it also includes farm to table options for some serviceable areas and it does not limit you to select and buy items from one store. You can combine shopping from different supermarkets/groceries. Aside from groceries, Honestbee also offers a food order and delivery service for their patrons. When you have the app, using it is easy. Just input your location and the app list the stores you can shop from . Honestbee accepts cash-on-delivery and Visa/Mastercard. The app requires a minimum spend of PhP500 from each store and charges a concierge fee and delivery fee for each order. Despite these fees, it still gives you the convenience of grocery shopping within the comforts of your own home!

  • Pros:Saves you time and energy (and potentially money) of taking trips to the stores
  • Cons:Products offered for some stores are not comprehensive
  • How to Use:Watch the Vimeo video by Sayalee Kaluskar on How to Use Honestbee
  • Tips:If you want items not included on the app options, your concierge shopper might be willing to purchase these for you and you’d have to pay cash on delivery.
  • References:Honestbee Website
  • Link to Download in iOS Device:Honesbee on the Apple App Store
  • Link to Download in Android Device:Honestbee on Google Play Store

No. 5 – Waze

No need to get lost if you know the Waze

According to Wikipedia, “Waze is a GPS navigation software app owned by Google. It works on smartphones and tablet computers that have GPS support. It provides turn-by-turn navigation information and user-submitted travel times and route details, while downloading location-dependent information over a mobile telephone network.” (Source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waze), Put simply, Waze is a mapping and directions service powered by its community of users who develop the usability and efficacy of the features by contributing and submitting various information that are useful for other app users such as roadblocks, traffic officer sightings, traffic incidents/accidents, level of traffic flow, etc. These reports and map data on the app makes it easy for other drivers on the road to have accurate information on driving directions, distance, estimated time of arrival, and route information. This app is practically useful for both drivers and passengers who are not familiar of their selected destination or would want to find alternative routes to a routine destination.

  • Pros:Gives you precise driving directions to your destination
  • Cons:Will sometimes take you to the long route to avoid heavy traffic reported by other Wazers
  • How to Use:Read the post by Amboy Manalo on How to Use Waze
  • Tips:Look for the Boy Band option on the voice settings of the app!
  • References:Waze Website
  • Link to Download in iOS Device:Waze on the Apple App Store
  • Link to Download in Android Device:Waze on Google Play Store