Category Archives: Android Apps
By Simon Hill
Many Android smartphones feature an excellent camera. Get the most out of it with these apps.
Price: Free; Shinycore
Rating: 5 out of 5
This powerful photo editor allows you to color-correct photos, add graphics, and apply a wide range of different effects. Through the effects menu you can tweak the brightness, saturation, contrast and exposure of your snap. For more eye-popping results you can try pixelize, distort or spotlight effects. Read the rest of this entry
By Bridget Deehr
From tots to teens, these are your go-to brain-building apps.
Price: $2.99; intellijoy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Take this portable puzzle anywhere – and never lose the pieces. Kids Shape Puzzle entertains your pre-schoolers, even as it builds their cognition and fine motor skills. Children will enjoy sliding the pieces from the left side of the screen towards the correct spot on the puzzle shape. When your child has correctly placed all of the pieces, she gets the “I did it” satisfaction of seeing the completed image. With more than 80 puzzles featuring letters and numbers, as well as cute animals like kittens, puppies and frogs, you may never get your phone back. Read the rest of this entry
By Simon Hill
These apps won’t turn you into Lady Gaga or Eric Clapton, but they can help you become a better, more creative musician than you already are.
Price: Free; intervigil
Rating: 4 out of 5
If you love to sing but you have trouble staying in tune, then this app is for you. MicDroid offers automatic pitch correction and on-the-fly pitch correction. Simply hit “record,” sing into your phone and the app will correct the pitch. You can access and play back your recordings to hear the new-and-improved versions. You also have the option to set a recording as your ringtone or share it via email. Read the rest of this entry
By Torrey Kim
Free for two weeks, then $7 per year, GasBot
Star Rating: 5 out of 5
My local radio station used to announce where to find the cheapest gas every week, and I lived for those newscasts—but the radio station discontinued running the feature and I was left driving around (wasting gas) searching for cheap fuel. Enter the GasBot app, which targets your GPS location and shows you which gas stations offer the best prices on gasoline. You can filter the results based on what type of gas you’re seeking, which can be helpful if your car only runs on premium or diesel. Read the rest of this entry
Yes, there is some product placement going on, but this is a useful app nonetheless. Got a kid-generated stain like berries or vomit? Look it up on myStain to find both on-the-go and at-home stain-lifting solutions. Step-by-step instructions are practical, detailed, and involve common household items besides Clorox products — such as salt or a wire brush.
I had several epiphanies while testing this app: Who knew, for example, that rubbing a coffee stain with bar soap can actually make it set? My only complaint is that there are some … ahem … common kid-generated stains that Clorox doesn’t account for. Maybe it was just too gross for them to go there.
Runs on: Android, iPhone.
We first heard about this one from Moms With Apps — one of our favorite sites. Chore Pad is great for families, or any other household where more than one person is responsible for cleaning up.
Start by adding everyone in the house as a user. Next create a “Chore Chest.” You can set chores so they come up automatically every time they need someone to do them, and you can even assign each chore with a 1-10 “value” so that folks get more points for the most time-consuming or most loathsome chores. And you can easily add or delete chores, and switch chores from one family member to another as your household changes.
The feature that makes this app a big hit with users: its motivational tools. You collect stars and trophies as complete your chores. It motivates kids (and their parents) to pitch in.
Runs on: iPhone, iPad.
I don’t watch the 24-hour news channels very much, but I did tune in during the Osama Bin Laden story. I was struck by how hard it was to get the actual story on these channels. Instead, there were lots of wordy pundits, eager to put their own loud spin on events even as they were unfolding.
As I watched, I got the sense that many of these channels are catering to people who 1) have infinite amounts of time, 2) want their news outlet to confirm what they already think, and 3) enjoy picking political spats with family members at Thanksgiving. For the other 90 percent of us, there’s The Week. And it’s now available as an Android and iPhone app.
For several years I’ve subscribed The Week in print. It comes every Saturday. Spend 20 minutes with it, and you get your current events “booster shot” that helps you shine at work and at cocktail parties. The editors at The Week comb through newspaper and magazine stories from around the world and succinctly summarize the week’s most important events. More importantly, they scrutinize what the editorials have said about those stories — in both “liberal” and “conservative” publications. A regular feature called “How They See Us” even examines what publications overseas are saying about U.S. news stories. The Week always cites its sources clearly, so you can go back to the original article if you want to learn more.
The Week has a lighter side too — collections of the best political cartoons, reviews of movies and T.V. shows, and a roundup of celebrity gossip.
The app has tabs like “The Latest News,” which today features topics ranging from immigration reform to Oprah’s last guest. Another tab called “Editor’s Choice” picks the most interesting stories from a longer period of time. Here, you’ll find stories ranging from Detroit’s 47% illiteracy rate to Bristol Palin’s (possible) plastic surgery. “Cartoons” collects the funniest and most pointed work from publications across the country. Other tabs allow you to browse stories in more specific categories and even bookmark stories to read later.
My only complaint with the app is that it sometimes takes 10 or 20 seconds to load on my Android phone. But the content is worth the wait.
I hate diets, so logging what I eat and how much I exercise has been my go-to strategy when I need to drop a few pounds. For several years, I’ve really liked The Daily Plate at Livestrong.com on my computer, which works great and is free. The drawback is the lack of portability.
Last week, I decided to give an app a try, but the Calorie Tracker by Livestrong.com app is $2.99. I’m cheap, so I decided to give My Fitness Pal a try. And I’m so glad I did.
It’s simple to use, takes just minutes a day, and I think I may like it better than my old standby Daily Plate site because it runs much faster. You start by recording your current weight, your goal weight, your general activity level, and how many pounds you’d like to lose each week. The app sets a calorie intake goal for every day. You can enter items and check your progress on the app or on a companion web site. The two sync effortlessly.
The food diary is a breeze to use and, so far, contains everything I ever eat. The app even calculates whether you’re getting your daily dose of things like protein, potassium and iron. (Confession: I’m not.)
Tip: Several months ago, I had considered and dismissed My Fitness Pal because I thought it allows you to record strength exercises only as individual exercises. I couldn’t be bothered with that, and wanted to log something like circuit training, 30 minutes or yoga, 60 minutes and be done with it. Weirdly, these activities are in “cardiovascular exercises” a list that also includes things like gardening and housecleaning (helper if you’re a desk worker like me whose general activity level is “sedentary.”
App’s Neatest Feature: After you’ve finished logging for the day, the app says “If every day were like today, you’d weigh [number of pounds] in five weeks.” That little calculation every night from your pal inspires you to stay on track the next day too.
My Fitness Pal
FREE, My Fitness Pal LLC.
Runs on Android, iPhone, Blackberry
5 out of 5 stars
Not content to swallow whole the dubious word of some some techie, we went to professional mixologist and amateur foodie Olivia Gray. Olivia is something of a local celebrity for her cocktails, which she serves up at Revolution in Durham, North Carolina. (Her salt & pepper martini is to die for.)
Here’s a sneak peek at 2 of Olivia’s top 10 picks for best food and drink apps. Read her full list in the next issue of Guide to Phone Apps, on newsstands later this month. Read the rest of this entry
This app lets you keep a running list of everything you need and access it from wherever you happen to be. Simply type, scan the barcode, or even say what you need as you think of it or as you plan menus. I went through my refrigerator before a shopping trip, for example, and simply scanned bar codes for items where the levels were low. I ordered my phone around as I read cookbooks, and all the ingredients I needed appeared on my list.
Grocery IQ puts the items into a grouped list that corresponds to how most grocery stores organize their aisles. As you check items off, they are removed from the list but appear in a ‘history’ that you can refer to later. The other items stay on the list for your next trip to another store.
The only complaint I have with Grocery IQ has more to do with my phone’s voice recognition capability than with the app. When I told the app to put “cereal” on the list, it came up as “serial” and I had to re-type. The spoken command “almond milk” stumped the system initially, but now that it’s been on the list the option comes up quickly when I begin to type the item.
This app listens better than anyone in my family — hands down.
Runs On: iPhone, iPad, Android
Free, Coupons.com, Inc.
Start with that familiar little green droid. Adjust body type by dragging the screen. Then add fun hairstyles and accessories from side-screen selections.
I had a blast Androidifying myself while I waited for my lunch to come today. I plan to make little droids to represent every family member and … then what? Holiday cards? Stickers for my minivan? The possibilities are endless.