Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What you can do with a smart phone and some apps

Before I acquired my smart phone, I knew that I wanted it for a couple of main features other than making phone calls. One of these was to receive emails and the other was to have access to the internet so that I could Google an address or pull up a map. I promised you in an earlier post that I would tell you about other things you can do with a smart phone.

Even if email and Google is all you use it for, you’ll thoroughly enjoy those conveniences. But I bet you’ve heard the expression: “There’s an app for that.” And there definitely is.

Sample App Icons on Phone

Your phone will come with some apps pre-installed, but beyond that you can download apps for free or they can cost a little something—usually less than $5. What do you suppose I prefer? Free, of course.

Paid apps sometimes promise that they come with more features, but so far, I’ve found everything I need with the free apps. Sometimes the advantage of paid apps is that they don’t have ads. If an app has an annoying quantity or placement of ads, I just uninstall it and look for another app.

I have an Android phone and unfortunately, we are stepchildren when it comes to apps. It seems that they become available for the iPhone first, and if we are lucky, there will eventually be an Android version. So far, however, I have only found a couple of apps that were not available to me yet.

Shortly before I got my phone, I learned that not only could I pull up a map, but that there are GPS apps that will navigate with turn-by-turn verbal directions. I added this to my list of reasons to get a smart phone, and I would have to say that of all the apps available, this has got to be the best ever.

I will give you a helpful hint about GPS apps though—download more than one. None of them work perfectly, as far as I know, so it’s great to have a backup. If it seems that one app will not find what you are looking for or is unable to determine your current location accurately, just try another one.

Some of my favorite apps are used to:
  • Check the sunrise, sunset, and type of moon.
  • Determine the names of the stars in the sky.
  • Look up the meaning of a word.
  • Check my AT&T account to be sure I’m being prudent with data usage.
  • Light the way—in other words, a flashlight.
  • Determine the name and artist of a song that is currently playing.
  • Take pictures—yes, this is becoming my second camera.
  • Read my Twitter feed.
  • Check the weather—this may be the second-best app available.

I even have a couple of card games in case I’m ever stuck somewhere and am bored out of my mind. I refuse, however, to play Angry Birds (it came on the phone) because I’m afraid it will become addictive. <grin>

Let’s not forget music so that you will always be entertained. You can store your own music or download directly. I highly recommend Dropbox for any file transfers. I will tell you more about this in another post, but Dropbox may be the only app that has a feature for Android users only—Camera Upload (beta).

Oh, and you must download a virus-protection app. After all, a smart phone is a computer and much like your home computer, is vulnerable, especially when you’re downloading lots of apps.

So you can probably tell from my examples (those are only a few of what I use), that there really is an app for everything. Because there are so many types of apps, everyone is going to use their phone differently, and that’s the beauty of it all. Could I live without my smart phone? Well, yes, truthfully I could, but would I want to? Nope.

So tell me, have I convinced you that you should upgrade to a smart phone?

Question: If you already have a smart phone, what is your favorite app?
Leave a comment below and let me know.

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