Editorial note: we’re peeking into the phone apps our editors can’t live without. Let’s see what Carina thinks she can’t help launching.
I’m rocking an Android phone–the original Google Phone, the HTC G1. It’s my second G1. OK, really, it’s my third. My first perished when my baby threw it into a sink. My second lasted a year and a half (even worked after spending a night in a snow bank.) I’m on my third one. They’re such workhorse phones and resistant to all of the horrible, mean things I do to my phones.
So let’s talk about the apps I can’t live without!
Just a second….hold on….
Sorry! I was just playing Words with Friends.
Oh, you’re unfamiliar? It’s an app that is similar to that crossword board game with letters on tiles, you know the one? I’m not a phone gamer. I like to think I’m above such wastes of time. Except that I’m completely and totally hooked on Words with Friends. It’s you vs. one of your friends–my far flung friends and relatives. I have 12 matches going on right now. I’ll be the first to admit it’s been kind of a buggy app on my Android. If an app is buggy, throws errors, crashes, and generally acts weird, I bail. But I just can’t quit WwF!
If you love to catch new music on the radio, hear a new song on TV, and have to know who it is right now, this is the app for you. Just hit the “Tag” button, put the phone close to the music, and Shazam scans its database for the match. I used to have to remember snippets of lyrics and do serious investigation to identify new music. Shazam has even worked for me in a crowded restaurant!
I’m completely addicted to Foursquare. Check into places and businesses, which your friends can see, and receive badges and other fun virtual items. Compete to become the “Mayor” of a location with anyone else who checks in. Will I friend you? Nope. I purposefully keep my Foursquare to a limited circle of friends. Hello, it’s an app that tracks WHERE you are, WHAT you’re doing, and that you’re not at home/work/where you’re supposed to be. You can set it to update your Twitter and Facebook, but I purposefully don’t do that. Foursquare is fun, but I also use it to keep track of my business mileage in one handy place.
Do you remember when you went to your maturation clinic or your health class and the instructor suggested keeping track of your cycles? Yeah…I never did that. Sometimes, if I remembered, I might make a mark on a calendar, but please. This app makes it eeeaasy to keep track of stuff you should really be keeping track of. There are all kinds of options and info you can store. I was able to tell my midwife the exact date of my last period, and, uh, other stuff so we could pinpoint my due date. And in the quest for a child with a specific gender, knowing when you ovulate is helpful.
I don’t play PAC-MAN, but my boys do. They love it and I can’t help but get a sense of retro enjoyment at seeing them play with the snapping yellow maw and all those ghosts. Unlike it’s arcade counterpart, you can set unlimited lives and levels so it’s simple for little ones to play. It’s even more adorable that they’ve leapt to real-life play with PAC-MAN as an inspiration–one is a ghost and one is PAC, they chase each other around the house snapping their arms like alligators.
I love to look at my metrics: who I call the most, who calls me, how long calls last, how many minutes I’ve used, all in handy, basic pie and bar charts. So, yeah, when my sister complained that I never answer her calls, I was able to prove that I answer her calls 88% of the time. So there. (I’m such a geek.)
So you found a song with Shazam and downloaded it to your phone. Use this app to easily make a ringtone out of it! You can set the 30 second increment along any portion of the song by dragging the pointers. Love it!
Shop Savvy! A classic shopping app that allows you to scan an item’s barcode to see how much it’s being sold for online and at other stores. You can tag items and create lists. I can even email an item’s info directly to my mother-in-law, who prefers concrete ideas on what to get her grandkids for Christmas or birthdays.
You’ve got small people who love to play with your phone, but darn if they don’t get into something they’re not supposed to get into. Toddler Lock! An app that allows them to “draw” on the screen with their finger. Older kids can practice letters and draw little pictures. Little ones love not just to draw lines (which change colors) but if they touch the screen lightly (vs. dragging) small shapes appear. The lines and shapes gradually fade away so they can keep drawing. The actions sound small chimes–I’m sensitive to annoying noises and trust me, these chimes are unobtrusive–which you can turn off. If they touch other buttons on the phone, more chimes sound, so your kid really can’t access stuff they’re not supposed to. Getting out of the app requires you to touch all 4 corners of the screen at once, or hit a specific set of keys on your QWERTY–that’s why it’s Toddler Lock. It’s fast for you to get out of it, but nigh on impossible for your kid. It even works in airplane mode. I’ve even heard it called “Teen Lock” because it’s irresistible to kids of all ages.
What apps are you loving right now?