There’s an app available for just about everything - Your West Valley News: Columns

There’s an app available for just about everything

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Les Blodgett

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2012 11:26 am

I recently read an article about several applications (now commonly called “apps”) for smartphones that are useful as tools for shoppers searching for the lowest cost for items they want to buy.

While I am not in the market to buy anything other than absolute necessities, I downloaded the five recommended apps and played with them all.

Each of these apps is from a marketing organization that developed one or more apps and make them available as a service to the public at no cost.

The five apps are:

1. Amazon Mobile App for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7.

2. RedLaser by eBay for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. RedLaser is a barcode scanner and QR reader.

3. pic2shop barcode scanner and QR reader by Vision Smarts. Supports Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android.

4. Google Shopper for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and other smartphones.

Shopper is adept at orienting your search to retailers in your home area. Shopper via subscription makes special offers available.

5. Milo Local Shopping, as the name suggests, specializes in price comparisons in the local area but also checks for stock on hand.

Shopper supports Android and the usual Apple lineup.

QR codes are an abbreviation for quick response codes.

The code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square pattern on a white background.

QR codes were invented for the automotive industry but are finding use in many other areas, including retail.

These apps each have some specialties.

The barcode and QR readers can be used via the cameras on your phone to read and interpret the symbols on retail packaging of products.

Some accept text input, voice input and Google’s apps can even determine your location from reading a satellite signal.

Apps are available from two main sources.

Apple maintains an app store for their products and Google has an app store named Play Store.

Apps are available in the thousands with so many different uses that it boggles the mind.

A good example of their usefulness is me.

I recently began taking 10 days of antibacterial medication, two pills per day, 12 hours apart.

I kept forgetting the pills when my 12-hour cycle was up. So I decided to see if there was an app that would help.

I did a search looking for an app that could be set to remind me when it was time for a pill. I could not believe the number and variety of timers that are available. It did not take long to find one that fit the need. I downloaded it and set it to vibrate and ring a tone every 12 hours and it works like a charm.

Apps are generally small in size and dedicated to a particular job. The most sophisticated apps may justify a small price. For example, some apps cost up to $5. But most apps are free.

The world of handheld devices fits the concept of apps perfectly. The kinds of things you do with a handheld smartphone require small input, fast lookup and small, fast response. While this style of computing is oriented to small and fast, the variety of inputs and the speed of processing is impressive.

Now the world of apps is going to move to a more prominent position. Windows 8 will be released in the next couple of weeks. The user interface of Windows 8 will accommodate apps so that these little, valuable chunks of code will become even more important and their uses will expand way beyond where they are today.

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

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