Apps improve handheld usage - Your West Valley News: Columns

Apps improve handheld usage

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Les Blodgett

Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 8:00 am

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the world of apps (the new, quick way of saying applications). I started looking at apps because as I drilled down into the subject, I found some interesting things that impress me with how useful and easily obtained they are.

So this week I decided to dig deeper to show you how handy these little programs can be.

First, some background. Apps are small programs designed to be useful to the users of smartphones and other handheld devices, although many apps can be installed on your computer. The source of most smartphone apps is from two places, Apple’s App Store and Google Play. The App Store, as you can imagine, specializes in apps for Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac computers). Google Play specializes primarily in apps for Android devices (Droids and other devices using the Android operating system). Many apps are available in all flavors including others such as a Blackberry, etc.

Numerically, Google Play has much higher unit volume than Apple. However, the Apple products are a bit more sophisticated, giving Apple a small intellectual lead. Both stores have many other products such as games, music, books, magazines, movies and TV.

Because there are other handhelds and more products beyond Apple and Android (Kindle and other readers, Windows Phones, etc.), Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others are in the game protecting their own product turf.

But the excitement is on apps for handhelds and regardless of source, most apps for handhelds can be downloaded for free. Even the apps that are for sale usually have a price tag of $5 or less. Here are a few that I have found to be intriguing. The quotes are from the product description found on the download site at the store.

• Pocket by pocketco. Free. “When you find something on the web that you want to view later, put it in Pocket. It automatically syncs to your phone, tablet or computer so you can view it any time, even without an Internet connection.”

• Series Guide Show Manager by Uwe Trottmann. Free. “Manage the process of (re-)watching your favorite TV shows. See what’s coming up, keep track of what is coming up. Keep track of what to watch next. Check in with or GetGlue. Share episodes with friends or the rest of the world.”

• My Verizon by Verizon Wireless. Free. “Take control of your wireless account. Use the Verizon Wireless Mobile App to get account information on-the-go. Check usage. Make payments. Change features and more.”

• Mortgage Calculator and Rates by Free. “Access easy-to-use mortgage calculators and shop for real time mortgage rates on the spot in this elegantly designed Zillow Mortgage Marketplace Android App brought to you by the makers of the most popular platform of mobile real estate applications.”

• Audiobooks by Travelling Classics. Free. “Listen to 2,800 audiobooks totally free. Easily stream or download the books. “Perfect for your commute, relaxing at home, in bed, or while at the gym.”

• Safely Go by Safely. Free. “Do you, like most people, find it hard to stay focused on the road while your cellphone tempts you? But is turning it off the best way to curb texting while driving? Let Safely Go receive your calls and texts, keeping you connected and responsible, while making you and the road a safer place for everyone.”

Les Blodgett is the owner of Firebird IT Systems, a company that helps small to mid-sized businesses and residential clients use technology effectively. Les Blodgett can be reached at 623-680-3738 or by email at

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