It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, what with my spring travels for Commonwealth and recent surgery. Hopefully, that changes starting now.
Being on the road so much lately, I’ve grown to appreciate the value of something that didn’t even really exist five years ago but so many of us take for granted now: apps.
Apple coined the catchphrase “There’s an app for that” with the launch of the first iPhone in the spring of 2007. Since then, both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store have exploded with apps. In fact, Apple releases a new app in its App Store every minute—that’s 1,500 apps a day.
It’s literally impossible to keep up with every new app that comes out, and, fortunately, you don’t have to. Thanks to rating systems, download statistics, and traditional and social media buzz (including blog posts like this one), it’s easy to find the best apps with a simple Google search or a search within either of the aforementioned app stores.
I thought I’d share, in no particular order, the apps that have made it onto my phone (the Samsung Galaxy S3). Take what you want and disregard the rest . . .
- Google Maps. If you have a smartphone and don’t have the Google Maps app installed, I’m sorry. Between directions/GPS/traffic and finding gas or a quick place to eat, this is the patriarch of map apps, and its native integration with the Android operating system was the only thing keeping me from getting the iPhone 5 last year. (Apple allowed Google Maps on the iPhone after its mapping app fiasco.)
- Google Now (aka Google Search). This app is a real game changer. Think about how much Google knows about you from your phone and your searching habits, and then imagine an app that proactively suggests ways to improve your life based on that knowledge. Yep, it’s that cool.
- The Weather Channel. If you travel a lot, it’s always nice to know what the weather’s going to be like where you’re going so you can pack appropriately. This app is great for that. It also lets you load multiple locations and quickly toggle between them, which is helpful if you want to see how the weather is treating family and friends across the country or around the world.
- FlightView. Here’s another one for the traveler. Instead of downloading each airline’s app to keep track of future flights, you can use FlightView. Just load all your upcoming flights, and the app will alert you to delays, gate changes, and the like while you’re on the go. It’s a little clunky (FlightView could certainly use some Commonwealth usability love), but it’s valuable just the same.
- ScoreCenter. Okay, this one is pure entertainment for the sports enthusiast, but I can’t remember the last day I didn’t hop on this ESPN app to check out the scores.
- Amazon. My neighbors are convinced that my wife is having an affair with the UPS driver because he’s at the house daily. We order a lot of stuff from Amazon.com, and the app makes it even easier to buy something whenever you’re thinking about it.
- TiVo. This is a relatively new one for me, as I just changed the way I DVR at home. If you’re using a TiVo box, the app lets you turn your smartphone or iPad into a pretty impressive remote control.
- Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn. I realize this is three apps and not one, but I tend to put all social media into one bucket mentally. Whether you use it to keep in touch with work connections or friends, social media is here to stay. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if, in five years, there are three totally different major players in this space, but the key point remains.
- Kayak. This is the best travel app out there. The designers did a killer job making the Kayak app hum for flight, car, and hotel searches. I haven’t enjoyed any app user experience as much as I have this one.
- Zillow. I categorize this as my favorite “nosy app.” When you’re driving or walking through an awesome neighborhood and want to know how much a certain house is worth, you can find out (approximately) with Zillow.
- Ski & Snow Report. If you live in Florida, you probably don’t need or want this one. But for those in cooler climes, it’s a great lifestyle app to load all of your favorite ski locations.
- Quote Pro. Last but not least, this is my favorite app for tracking portfolios. While it’s not real-time, you can create an unlimited number of portfolios and change default sort options (including manual). Plus, it’s incredibly easy to use.
So, what are your favorite apps?