This pocket city guide SO City showcases local information on 21 cities across the length and breadth of India.
SO City, which calls itself a “local’s city guide” in its Google Play Store listing was born as SODelhi.com in 2012.
Delhi resident Digant Sharma, who had an appetite for adventure and discovery, spent a decade in the UK and returned to his hometown. He looked for interesting things happening in his city but realised there was no organised online guide that could direct him to new, niche and quirky developments in food, music, theatre, art and culture or sports.
So, he founded SODelhi.com and envisioned it as the go-to portal for ‘all things Delhi’. Any traveller or a local could look it up to know where to go, where to eat, where to shop, where to party, where to learn, and more.
In six years, SO City has grown to serve as the “pocket” guide in 21 Indian cities, from Leh-Ladakh and McLeodganj in the far north to Pondicherry and Andaman down south, to Shillong in the northeast - locations that cannot be termed ‘typical’. It aims for its users to “explore hidden gems and be the first to hear the latest buzz”.
“We consist of a constantly growing community of local experts showcasing a range of curated content around events, food, shopping, fashion, sightseeing, hyperlocal communities, travel and so much more,” it says in its app listing.
Users receive expert recommendations “tailor-made” to suit their interests. The app uses machine learning algorithms to learn about their favourite haunts and experiences and throws up relevant suggestions. The longer a user spends browsing on the platform, the more accurate the recommendations get.
SO City is listed under the lifestyle category of Google Play Store and has recorded 10,000-plus downloads. Android users have rated the app 4.5 out of 5.
One user writes, “This app provides that information of the state [sic] which no one has heard of.”
Another says, “It gets me so much more information about Saddi Dilli. Thanks to them I now know things around this city that I was completely unaware of till a year back.”
YourStory digs into the SO City app.
First, you log in. This is mandatory, there is no ‘skip’ option.
Next, you pick your interests (at least five). You can choose from ‘shopping’ and ‘travel’ to ‘events’ and ‘heritage’ and more.
Then, you choose the city. You can either enter your location manually or let GPS do the job. (We chose Delhi.)
The homepage throws up a general feed that consists of information and picture-led content on recent or upcoming events in the city.
You can, of course, stick to a general feed for a wider array of information. But the app also allows you to use the ‘Nearby’ button to learn of things happening in your own locality.
You learn about several things from the best places for an open-air BBQ to the type of Delhi aunties you may come across at Diwali exhibitions to upcoming DJ concerts and more.
There are deals to choose from on the ‘Delhi Deal Hunter’ page within the app.
Other interest-based pages include Life in a Dilli Metro, Dilli Glutton, City Wire, and SO Delhi’s own page.
You can like, share and bookmark all the content. Users may also subscribe to SO City’s weekly newsletter.
Most interestingly, users can create their own profiles, list their interests, and post photos, videos, text, and notch up followers ala Instagram. This is aimed at building an engaged user community.
And lastly, if you wish to be a collaborator, you can even contact SO City from within the app, or fill up a form.
SO City is a great concept that may not have had too many parallels back in 2012. But, city guides, local travel apps, and the most popular of them all, user-generated, city-specific Instagram handles, are rather ubiquitous now. Information is just a tap away.
But, SO City scores still.
Its unconventional mix of cities and quality content makes it a top draw in the space. However, some users seem to regret that there is no data for Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad or Pune on the SO City platform yet.
That could well be a deterrent in the app’s user growth. But to counter that, SO City runs active Instagram handles for all of India’s major cities with information on food, entertainment, parties and events served on a platter.
And, if you are in Saddi Delhi and are keen to explore the city beyond its usual suspects, SO City is a must-have app. It is lightweight, tastefully designed, carefully curated and highly/very/quite useful.