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Sync NI's top free NI-based apps in 2019

  • Many people may not know it, but Northern Ireland is currently a great hotch potch for start-ups and individuals creating their own mobile and web apps. 

    We at Sync NI have written about lots of new apps, created and developed here in Northern Ireland this year. Here is just a taster of some of our favourites, but we're sure there'll be plenty more to come in the New Year.


    Launched by Henderson Technology in August, this app is targeted at fighting food waste and has already won a ‘Mobile App of the Year’ prize at the Belfast Telegraph IT Awards.

    As items are stickered in Henderson’s SPAR, EUROSPAR, ViVO and ViVOxtra stores, they are also displayed on the app. Once the item is sold it is automatically removed, providing an instant feed of all reductions in-store at any time.

    Ashley Osborne, founder of Gander said that for shoppers, the app “will provide them with the ability to avail of local bargains and save money, whilst allowing them to feel they are positively addressing the problem of food wastage.”

    The Gander app can be downloaded via the Apple or Android app stores now.


    ESTHER is a peer to peer charitable donation platform, which allows the user to donate directly to someone living in need in their own city.

    Once signed up, the user receives a short biography detailing the situation of a local person in need. They will then get updates on how the recipient is doing once they receive donations, which they receive on a pre-paid card.

    Co-founder Ailis McCaul said this “looks like a normal bank card, and the recipient of the donation can spend it on anything they like in shops; they just can’t take money out of an ATM machine with it. In the future there will be restrictions on certain things though, such as alcohol and gambling.”

    ESTHER has received funding through grants and is now a fully functioning app. Ailis said the team is running a two-month short-term pilot to learn as much as they can for the moment, and a much larger scale pilot will be launched in 2020. Currently, anyone from anywhere can sign up as a donor but for the time being, donations are only going to vulnerable people living in Belfast. The team hope to expand the initiative to help major cities worldwide in the future.

    For more info on ESTHER, visit or sign up at

    Experience Northern Ireland

    Carrickfergus Enterprise introduced its free visitors’ planning app this month, with an initial launch investment of £20,000.

    App users are in control of planning a custom itinerary, as it houses information on accommodation, tour providers, heritage experiences, where to eat, what to do and major attractions to visit all connected in one place.

    Times and distances are also calculated automatically which maps out the journey digitally. There have been similar apps previously, such as Visit Belfast and My Tour Talk. However, Experience Northern Ireland is fully free-to-use and encompasses locations from round the entire country.

    The app can be downloaded via the Apple or Android app stores now.

    Carrickfergus Enterprise is also encouraging businesses to get involved and become listed on the app. To do so, please get in touch with Kelli at or call 02893369528.

    Changing Lives

    The Changing Lives app was developed by South Belfast-based digital agency Sugar Rush Creative, for Probation Board Northern Ireland (PBNI). It is designed to assist those in probation supervision, particularly those who have a mental health problem or addiction issues.

    The app consists of a journal, and easy to use emojis and avatars. Sugar Rush Creative Founder, Ali MacFarlane said: “To create an app which actually ultimately prevents someone taking their own life is mind blowing as it certainly brings home the importance of the work that we deliver for our clients.”

    The app even helps users on probation keep track of their community service hours, everything regarding their tag and license period, and also has a new alcohol diary to track units and calories.

    Sugar Rush Creative was shortlisted in the 2019 UK App Awards, both in the UK App of the Year category for the Changing Lives app, but also in the Small UK App Agency of the Year. The firm was the only Northern Ireland Company shortlisted.

    Changing Lives additionally won App of the Year at the DANI Awards 2018 and received the same award in 2017 from Digital DNA.

    Sugar Rush Creative has developed numerous varied apps for different businesses. In recent years the team also created an app aimed at eliminating the risk of heart disease, and even helped develop footballer Frank Lampard’s children’s website.

    The Changing Lives app can be downloaded for free via the Apple or Android app stores now.

    Ali MacFarlane, founder of Sugar Rush Creative


    Sussd enables customers to make money by voicing their opinions to brands. Members get paid each time they answer a question and can win more money with a bonus amount ‘Golden Ticket’ that is distributed to respondents at random. They have the option to cash out their ‘wallet’ via Paypal or can donate earned money to one of several local charities who have partnered with the start-up.

    The platform which has been developed over two years, allows organisations to test creative ideas with consumers before pouring resources into a new project. This eliminates the costly investment that can be required for more traditional forms of consumer research.

    Lisburn-based founder and CEO, Callum Curry said that originally “the app was focused on gathering political opinion on the voting at Stormont. But we talked to many local businesses, community groups and people, and found that, actually, the issues important to them weren’t being addressed by Stormont. That’s when we realised our mission could be expanded to include any type of organisation that needs to gauge opinions.”

    For the time being, Sussd is only available as a web application, but can be accessed here for those wishing to sign up. It is still in its early development days though, so be patient! It’s definitely one to watch out for.

    Callum Curry, CEO of Sussd

    If you are developing an app and think it could make a great story, contact us about it via

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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