Apps: Currency Exchange Rates

Today let’s take a look at some options out there for one class of app that’s vital when travelling: something to convert currency amounts so you have some idea what you’re spending on something!

Personally, the last seven years now we’ve been using XE Currency the house app of the currency exchange website:

All the world’s currencies at your fingertips! This free edition of the XE Currency Converter App not only provides live exchange rates and charts, you can also set an XE Rate Alert to monitor your favorite currencies for immediate notification.

– Stores the last updated exchange rates so it works even when the internet doesn’t.

– Easy to use currency calculator using XE’s currency converter. It also monitors up to 10 currencies at once!

– Live rates are refreshed each minute for every world currency and precious metal.

It’s free (unless you want more than 10 at a time, if you do there’s XE Currency Pro), it does its job, what more could you ask for, go pick it up now right?

Well, there’s a few other options that have crossed our radar lately out of the veritable plethora of currency converting apps out there, so let’s take a look at those too and see if there’s anything there that’ll convince us to switch!

First up, there was this Best Apps For International Travel roundup over at AppAdvice, most of which we agreed with at first glance; and along with XE Currency they picked two others to highlight:

xCurrency · Simple & Smart Currency Converter
by Travel Tao, Ltd.

xCurrency, the simplest and the most convenient app for currency exchange.
Provides initiative features that just enough for your demand.

Enlightened by our own vast experiences of cross-border travels, for the first time, we combine exchange rate checking with currency calculation. With elegant and simple interface and solid inside, xCurrency will be a thoughtful helper when you travel, go shopping, live or study abroad.

Its uniqueness will be obviously presented in the very beginning: the extreme simple and elegant interface, the smart calculator, and the latest currency rate data that keeps updating timely. Apart from that, we also provide a professional and stylish function for checking historical rates for free. With a slight slide, you can switch the exchange rates information of more than 160 currencies. It is not only a professional currency checking master, but also a powerful currency calculator…

Hmmm … well I suppose it’s got a touch more elegance to the design, but there doesn’t seem to be any compelling functionality advantage, and we like having the extra information that XE Currency displays. OK, next?

clear currency – money converter & exchange rate by Davetech Co., Ltd.

Clear Currency could be the best currency app, downloaded and loved by millions, featured on App Store home page and USA Today Best Travel App. Clear currency can convert currencies in today widget and Safari browser. It offers interactive historical chart. It automatically updates/stores the latest exchange rates so it can work offline. Best currency app for both traveling and business.

OK, the Today widget and the “Safari browser” converting — a Share extension, looks like that is? — are nifty … but we’ve never actually felt the lack of those particularly, it’s not that hard to switch to the app.

Other than that, we still prefer the XE Currency interface — so that one isn’t enough to convince us to switch either.

Lastly for now, we heard something about a currency conversion app taking home honors at the Apple Design Awards this year, and we’d been meaning to check that out, because really, just how much design can there be to go into a currency conversion app? Well, let’s check that out…

Ah, here we are; the app in question is the intriguingly named

Elk – Travel Currency Converter by Clean Shaven Apps

An innovative currency conversion app, Elk is perfectly suited for Apple Watch and enables quickly converting between 150+ currencies worldwide. Elk provides a thoughtfully designed and efficient experience on watchOS that makes currency conversion fast, easy, and convenient. Smart and creative use of pickers, swipe gestures, haptics, and the Digital Crown make interactions feel natural and intuitive. Clever use of one’s locale and current time zones enables Elk to quickly infer currencies to convert without the need to manually select anything. Written entirely in Swift and available in 9 languages, Elk uses the Watch Connectivity framework to sync between iPhone and Apple Watch, and thoughtfully employs Haptic feedback throughout the app on iPhone and Apple Watch to reinforce user-initiated actions. Designed and developed by Clean Shaven Apps, a two-person team in Singapore, Elk is a model watchOS app that’s simple to use and designed for quick interactions on the wrist.

OK, so they basically got their award for making a really nice Watch version. Well, that would be a great deal more interesting to try out if we had a Watch, but we don’t.

Well, to be precise, we have two halves of an Apple Watch — decided to try that out for a Christmas present to ourselves, despite not using a watch for about the last two decades; and it took like two months before we smashed it into irreperable bifurcation.

So, yeah, Watch apps will be of interest to us again when they come out with the Absolutely Guaranteed Trollproof™ Indestructible Watch. Might be waiting a while for that.

As for the rest of the interface — well, “innovative” it is, but call us dinosaurs, we actually like keyboard entry, and don’t really see that this table is a great leap forward, we’re capable of doing simple adjustments ourselves.

So our final pronouncement, after due consideration of our Worthy Contenders:

XE Currency remains our travel currency converter of choice!

Now, what we would occassionally find useful is if someone would integrate tipping and rounding into these currency apps. Like when a bill comes for 684.17 quatloos, and you only have hundreds, it’d be convenient if it’d round it to 700, convert that to show the real price and the tip %, so you can decide whether to nag for change, or be the generous spender, or what. Maybe we’ll write that ourselves, one of these days…


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I go places.

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