Driverless taxis, booze delivery apps, high-speed rails—a primer on how tech is changing daily life in Singapore

There’s more to smart living than waving your new iPhone 7 around—although the perpetual barrage of functional apps are a big part of tech’s impact on our daily lives. There is also city planning stuff: Smart Nation initiatives, high-speed rail links, driverless taxis and all kinds of Back to the Future stuff. From the small to the big, tech impacts our lifestyle in Singapore every day in more ways than we can count, hence the alphabetized list. Here’s the A-Z of smart living in Singapore.

A

Alcohol delivery apps

First things first! The new Bottles XO app delivers a chilled bottle of wine (or more) to you within an hour. Wanderwine and Nuevo Vino do it, albeit a bit slower. Whisky Butler charges you $88 a month to join its nerdy and fun whisky club. We’re loving what tech is doing to our livers, and if you do, you might want to check the some other apps too.

Augmented reality

There were some companies that were experimenting with the potential of augmented reality, but nobody can beat what Niantic did with the launch of Pokemon Go (you knew this was going to be in this list). After teasing the world last year with a out-of-this-world video about a bunch of people catching Pokemon with their phones, Niantic slowly released the augmented reality game, taking over one human being at a time.

B

Booking apps

Let’s face it. We live on an island. There’s limited recreational opportunities, which means we have an outsized obsession with eating so tables fill up fast. Enter booking apps like Chope and Quandoo, which dish up information on new places to try and let you book a table right on your phone.

Byte Academy

The Singapore government has invited New York-based programming and tech school Byte Academy to set up a regional office in Singapore, with the aim to train up to 5,000 locals in programming over the next few years.

C

Car Lite

The government is all gung-ho about coming up with creative means of transport that don’t involve putting more cars on the road. And they might be onto something, with several exciting initiatives announced in recent months. Here’s our summary.

Co-working spaces


The Working Capitol

We thought they were a hipster trend, but they’re showing no signs of slowing down. From the all-women Woolf Works in the East and the ever-bustling The Working Capitol on Keong Saik to the no-nonsense Impact Hub on Prinsep Street and the new and gentlemanly The Great Room, co-working spaces are making it glamorous to ditch the whole 9-5 thing. Here's a list of some of our favorites.

Contactless payments

Remember back in 2015, when Apple announced its latest updates at their WWDC keynote in June, and talked about Apple Pay? Yeah, we grumbled so much because there wasn't any news about it hitting Singapore at all. But when they finally did in April this year, everyone else followed suit. Now there’s that, Samsung Pay and Google Pay. We’re so spoilt.  

D

Driverless taxis

Yes, the time has come for the driverless taxis. nuTonomy just rolled out a public trial of self-driving taxis (first in the world). Once all that data and feedback are collected, they'll make a couple of tweaks and hopefully be ready for a commercial launch in 2018.

Data

Data and big data are buzzwords in the digital living-land, and last year the Singapore government relaunched a snazzy new platform for open data. Data.gov.sg captures everything from dengue clusters to annual waste water disposal to the total number of cars and trucks on the streets of Singapore. We’re not sure what we’re going to do with all this information, but we’re glad it’s out there.

DreamCoder

You know start-up culture is no longer a fringe thing when you have a Mediacorp show about it. That’s right, Channel 8 will air Chinese language drama DreamCoder (note the hip, tech-savvy lack of space between the two words) in February 2017. According to the IDA, the show will demonstrate how people can “pursue an education or career in technology”. Sounds riveting!  

E

e-commerce

So what if rents are high in Singapore? With amazing internet access and great start-up vibes, you hardly need a brick-and-mortar store to have a retail business. Singapore shoppers have some pretty fun options online, whether its quirky but cool furniture store HipVan, luxury shopping from Reebonz or cool and curated multi-label gems from The Assembly Store—to say nothing of big players like Lazada and Zalora.

Electric cars

Tesla has yet to take off in Singapore, but it’s not giving up. Word on the street is that Tesla execs have been meeting the government, with plans to set up charging stations. No plans to buy a Tesla? No worries—you can probably rent an electric car next year. Jurong East, Ang Mo Kio and Punggol will be the first to see the installation of 50 EV stations and 250 charging points, which will cater to the first fleet of 125 BlueSG cars from the middle of next year. Commuters can book a BlueSG car through an app 20 minutes in advance and will be charged for the amount of time used instead of the distance travelled.

F

Food delivery apps

Between Foodpanda, Deliveroo and UberEats, we might never leave the house to eat ever again. And that’s just scratching the surface of your options. Here’s a list of how you can get food, drink, groceries and other forms of sustenance delivered to your door.

Fitness passes

Gym memberships may soon be a thing of the past now that you can use services like Guava Pass and K Fit letting you take your pick from yoga, Crossfit, indoor cycling, Muay Thai and dozens of other classes taking place at gyms and studios all across Singapore.

G

Grab

Grab more than gives Uber a run for its money, thanks to its combo of professional taxis and civilian vehicles, the option of paying by either cash or credit card, carpooling options (though the one to JB didn't work out exactly) and lots of promos all the time.

H

High-speed trains

With the high-speed rail link between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur scheduled for completion in 2026 and a study underway for a potential Singapore-Johor Baru MRT extension, jams at the Causeway and Second Link might soon be a thing of the past.

Helpling

Helpling is like Uber, but for cleaners. With a convenient online payment service, fixed rates and a flexible schedule, you’ll have a reliable cleaner at your doorstep. And if they're on vacation, you have the option of having Helpling assign you a temporary replacement. 

Honestbee

Another little triumph of convenience, Honestbee lets you shop online for groceries, sends someone to pick them up and can have them delivered to your doorstep within a couple hours. Great for when you have the flu, as we found out.

I

Instagram


Ron and friends in a red house formed using nine different pictures

Ok, we know Instagram is far from Singaporean, but seriously, there are some Singaporeans who take their Instagram feed curation very seriously. Here are some jaw-dropping local accounts to follow.

J

Japan

As a nation, we’re obsessed with all things Japan. So it was only a time before our love of technology collided with our love of kawaii/kaiseki. JPassport gives you points for using your favorite Japanese services in Singapore, and Bite! Japan tells you all about the best Japanese food in town.

K

Kayak

The huge international travel search engine launched in Singapore last year, hooking you up with flights, hotels, car rentals and travel packages. That doesn’t stop us from cheating on it with Expedia, Zuji, et cetera.

Kickstarter

A crowdfunding pioneer, Kickstarter announced in late July that it would begin listing projects in Singapore and Hong Kong, the company's first Asian foray. And given the entrepreneurial start-up spirit that Singapore already has, it could be just the boost first-time entrepreneurs need. Already there are nearly 130 Singapore projects listed on there, including a new yacht-chartering app and a magazine about decorating with yarn.

L

Light installations


Gardens by the Bay

 

What good is a tech revolution if it doesn’t bring a bit of beauty into our lives? Dazzling light installations are now de rigueur at many of our annual festivals, especially the Singapore Night Festival. And the iLight Marina Bay festival back in March blew us away with its displays of dazzling installations from design firms and artists from around the world. Not to mention that gorgeous thing at Gardens by the Bay right now.

Line

This app is hardly a Singaporean phenomenon, but we are charmed by all the Singaporean stickers that say things like “bo jio” and “shiok sia”, which you can get from here and here.

M

MyRepublic

MyRepublic, which announced plans for super affordable mobile plans with really fast Internet speeds, created a huge price war on data plans between major telcos here in Singapore. But hey, as long as the competition is benefitting consumers, we're not complaining.

N

NEWater

With low rainfall and Linggiu Reservoir at 25% capacity this year, Singapore’s water MacGyvering is (vaguely) reassuring. You may have turned your nose when purifying waste water first became a thing back in 2004, but we sure are glad for it now.

Ninja Van

N might seem like it’s for Netflix, which caused a sensation when it launched in Singapore earlier this year, but we’re actually quite proud of homegrown startup Ninja Van, which recently expanded to Indonesia just this month.

O

One-North


Timbre+ at One-North

Lovingly called the Silicon Valley of Singapore, One-North is home to the exciting Ayer Rajah Crescent, the densely packed with exciting start-ups and incubators. Ayer Rajah Crescent’s BLK71, where companies like 99.co and Carousell have their offices, plans to expand to house 750 startups by 2017. Also on the crescent is the government-run JTC @ one-north, and not to mention the hipster food truck hawker center, Timbre+.

P

Popcorn

Popcorn app allows you to search by film or by cinema over a three day period, watch trailers, read reviews, browse what’s coming soon and book your tickets on the spot. It also lists promotions at various cinemas.

Q

QR Code

QR codes are almost everywhere, from supermarkets to the sides of buses—just another tech thingy that has given us some digital shorthand.

R

Ridesharing

Uber, Grab and local start-up Ryde have all gotten on the ride-sharing bandwagon, making the once creepy-seeming endeavor a decent way to chat up a fellow smart living enthusiast on your way to work.

Redmart

Redmart offers more than just produce. You can shop for health and beauty products, home appliances, electronic gadgets, and even home accessories here. The site delivers daily from 10am-10pm and you can choose your preferred slot upon checkout.  

S

Smart Nation

The government’s catchall phrase for dozens of tech-y and sustainable initiatives, including driverless taxis and contactless fare payment (yes!), smart nation is kind of the rallying cry for Singapore in the coming years. More news and updates here.

sgnow.sg

How could we pass up an opportunity for shameless self-promotion? SG gets more and more digital every day, bringing you up-to-speed news on events, restaurants, nightlife, cool city initiative and, of course, smart living. Click here to sign up to our daily newsletter.

T

Tinder

Some people say food is a universal connector. We say it’s actually Tinder horror stories (including how it sucked up your entire data plan one lonely weekend.). Here is a list of people (or creeps) you'll meet on Tinder in Singapore.

U

USB ports on buses

Starting this month, SMRT is rolling out 10 double-decker buses equipped with USB charging ports, which operate from Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang and Woodlands. If you happen to commute on bus services 61, 67, 963, 969 or 985, you’ll be one of the first to get to try out the new feature. Read the full story here.

Urban farming

Limited land means limited farms. Combine that with news of some Kranji farms having to shut down next year, and we have our hopes pinned on urban farming solutions to pick up at least a tiny portion of the food security slack. Places like Comcrop—the hydroponic farm atop Scape—and the good people at Edible Garden City, we have a smidge of hope.

Uber

We are but a mere little red dot in Uber’s plan for world domination. But we are kind of ok with it. While the recent surges and clueless drivers have been irritating the hell out of us lately, we are placated by new features like UberEATS and UberPool.

V

Viral videos

With ridiculous potential to impact public opinion and sentiment, the viral video has been harnessed for a lot of good causes in recent months, most notably Pink Dot’s heartwarming series of Singaporean LGBT stories Singapore, including the now famous elderly transwoman Rose. Also notable is our very own durian video, and a whole bunch of others we've done over the past couple of months.

Virtual reality

Once upon a time virtual reality only existed in the recesses of science fiction authors, writers and filmmakers, but tech companies have hopped on this very fresh idea, bringing you devices like the Oculus Rift, HTC Hive, Sony PlayStation®VR and Samsung Gear VR 2016. With VR games already set for release this year, let’s see if this actually becomes a thing, or if it falls flat on its face, since we’re at the peak of augmented reality thanks to Pokemon Go.

W

WiFi at MRT stations

We got a bit excited late last year when we heard that 33 MRT stations were getting free public WiFi. We can’t wait till 2020, when the LTA will have rolled out free WiFi in all MRT and bus stations.

Whatsapp

We still remember like it was yesterday when Whatsapp was launched, not knowing its full effects on us. Now, it has seamselessly blended into our lives, and with its numerous features, from making free phone calls to having trash talk in our group chats, god bless Whatsapp.

X

Xiaxue

Having a large following on every social media, good ol’ Xiaxue now has landed her own reality TV show, Wendy Vs the World, where you can live vicariously through her shenanigans, from botox sessions to raising her adorable son, Dash. (Also, we couldn’t think of anything else that starts with x.)

Y

YouTube sensations

Our love for YouTube is endless, from watching music videos to vlogs by our favourite youtubers. Our local Youtube scene has grown quite a bit over the years such as the comedic duo, Munah and Hirzi, posting wickedly hilarious musical parodies, wahbanana posting relatable skits that we Singaporeans face from day to day.

Z

Zalora

Everyone has probably shopped from Zalora, at least once in their lives. The e-commerce fashion platform works with regional designers as well as labels like Topshop, Mango and Dorothy Perkins. They also have a slew of beauty products to choose from, and let you pay cash on delivery.