Shex Tech: China's Number One Smog App
Every two weeks we dissect a gadget, app or other tech geared towards helping expats cope with life in Shanghai.
No need to enlist a squadron of smog-sensing squabs. After weeks of filtering through countless air quality apps, we feel like there's still no argument as to what's the most effective AQI tool for coping in the omnipresent Shanghai airpocalypse: AirVisual. This Beijing-based startup is a digital Swiss Army knife, combining the best features of all the pollution apps without all the extraneous bells and whistles. It provides real time US Consulate-sourced AQI info and three-day weather forecasts for over 5,000 cities around the world, along with corresponding activity and health recommendations.
Most apps do this, right? AirVisual also tracks concentrations of the six major pollutants -- PM2.5, PM10, O3, CO, NO2, and SO2 -- and features a veritable "smog marauder's map" (below) that shows AQI levels around the globe from Iceland to Shanghai's Zhabei District. To operate, simply swipe your way around the globe and zoom in and out like Google maps; the pollution levels will adjust accordingly. The one downside is that, unlike with the Air Matters map, you can't toggle the units of measurement between AQI and the six aforementioned pollutants. But it's a small nitpick.
Best of all, you can display the AQI reading on AirVisual's dashboard badge so you don't even have to open the app to know how polluted it is. We like to have several AQI app badges side-by-side to compare and contrast their pollution readings -- especially as ones like Air Matters may or may not have been recently told by the government to censor their readings.
Additional 'accoutrements' include a ranking of the world's most and least polluted cities, monthly articles on the latest pollution findings, and a store where you can buy accessories such as the Node (below). This device detects both outdoor and indoor pollution so you're not unknowingly hot-boxing yourself in a Krakatoan cloud of dust, dander and residual outdoor smog when you hole up inside to escape the outdoor airpocalypse. More on that here.
Some people will miss the wry advice given by "indie" AQ app Airpocalypse or the sleeker layout of Air Matters, but AirVisual is the most comprehensive option out there. Androiders can download it for free on either Google Play, iPhone users on the app store.