App review: Linqapp puts you in touch with the natives

App review: Linqapp puts you in touch with the natives

If you're a regular business traveller who's tried to find out what a sign says, get directions to the bathroom or a bar, or needed to know which train to catch, you might have turned to helpful people on the street, a concierge, a phrase book or an online translator like Google Translate. Linqapp offers a handy new alternative, harnessing the power of the social crowd so you can quickly get in touch with native speakers.

Available on Google Play, the free app has a Facebook-style interface so it's intuitive for people who use that social network.

Once you've told it your native tongue and other languages you're interested in, you ask questions of other users in a language of your choice, with replies delivered in the language you need.

My question in English, to Italian speakers, got two answers within five minutes of posting. The app is useful for language learning: you can follow other users and chat in real time, and there's an option to ask people to be language exchange partners.

You can also photograph a sign or poster and ask what it means and there's support for sound recordings of questions and answers.

Users can rate answers and get credit for sharing on Facebook. The more you help and get points, the better your chance of getting onto the global leaderboard. And you can buy credit packages and VIP memberships costing between $1.27 and $38.29.

A search of English speakers close to me threw up several in Australia and Asia, suggesting there aren't too many users in New Zealand.