mobile_app german welcome.jpg
Photograph: Ilustration

The German government has presented a new smartphone app that aims to provide basic information about how to navigate life in Germany to the throngs of migrants entering the country.

"Ankommen," the word for "to arrive" in German, was developed by the government in coordination with the Goethe Institute and public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk and is meant to act as a guide for newcomers during their first weeks in the country.

Presented by the Ministry for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) on Wednesday, the app is available in English, German, French, Arabic and Farsi and provides information on German laws and customs, courses in the German language as well as apprenticeships and jobs.

It is available for Android via Google Play with plans to adapt it for the iOS platform in the coming months.

"Understanding how Germany works is the basis for getting on well together," the app's website says. "Everyone has the same obligations and has to obey German laws. But everyone has the same rights too."

A plethora of language and orientation apps for refugees have been developed in Germany in recent months. The so-called Welcome App, created in Dresden last year, was downloaded more than 15,000 times in 2015.

Anke Domscheit-Berg, a digital activist who organized a so-called Refugee Hackathon last October, says that too many apps are being developed simultaneously and that there needs to be a centralized database to avoid overlap and duplication.

She added that wireless internet coverage needed to be improved to ensure the success of the Ankommen app. "The most beautiful BAMF app won't help if there is no wireless internet in refugee hostels," Domscheit-Berg said.

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