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The best and most useful apps for your smartphone

Updated on April 19, 2013

If you are have a smartphone it is worth looking into the best and most useful apps that are available. It will surely make life just a little bit easier for yourself!

But first, let's look at what an app is and what it can do
The term 'app' is a shortened version of application software. Just like programs such as Word or Excel on your PC, apps are pieces of software that allow you to do much more with your smartphone. One of the major benefits of apps is that most are either free or very cheap. There are thousands of apps on offer and they range from practical apps to entertainment and games. You can apply apps to almost every aspect of your life - there are apps to monitor your expenses, find your nearest toilet using a GPS locator, identify flowers, build mindmaps, organise lists and give you first aid advice among countless other things!

So, where do you get an app?
The range of apps available to you will depend on what smartphone operating system you are using. However, many app developers release different versions of their apps for each operating system (which means that you can download the same app on both an IPhone and an Android phone). To download an app, you need to visit the online store on your smartphone. The main stores are: Apple App Store, Android Market, Goggle Play, Windows Phone 7 Marketplace and BlackBerry App World.

Now, let's look at the most useful apps
You can customise your personal collection of apps to your interests and hobbies - here I have listed the apps which I have found to be the most useful (and fun). All the apps I have listed are free:

  • Health apps

- 'Drinking Water' has received some great reviews which is why I would like to share this app with you. It reminds you to drink water and tracks your water drinking habits. All you need to do is set the number of cups you want to drink each day and the app will remind you during the day. Drink more water! It's good for you!

Available: Android and IPhone.

- 'MapMyRun' uses the built-in GPS of your smartphone to track all of your fitness activities. Record your workout details, including duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and route travelled on an interactive map. Think of it as a pocket sized running partner who will record your progress as you discover new routes!

Available: Android and IPhone.

  • Mini "personal assistant" apps

- 'Astrid Tasks and To Do List' is a platform where you can create lists and share them with people who can help get things done. You can share tasks with anyone and the recipient gets a friendly email where they can accept or decline the task (they do not need to be Astrid users). The app also benefits from a clear and playful interface.

Available: Android, Iphone, on the web

- 'Remember the Milk' is another list building app and a mini-assistant first choice for many. Organise your tasks by category, due date (optional), priority levels or recurrence. The interface is easy to use and looks pretty. Your notebook might just become a thing of the past.

Available: Android, IPhone, on the web

- 'Expense Manager' is a useful app for managing your expenses and incomes. You can track expenses and incomes by week, month and year as well as by categories. As I'm quite unorganised, I've found this app to be very useful! You can also set up a password to prevent snoopers.

Available: Android, IPhone

  • Games apps

- 'Bebbled' is a game that got me hooked straight away! I have to admit that I am a bit of a gaming nerd..The whole idea of the game is to clear the same colored circles within the shortest number of moves. A word of warning though - it's hard to put down!

Available: Android, IPhone

- 'Fruit Ninja' is an action game where you slice as much fruit as possible - the fruit gets squashed, splattered and cut to pieces with your "samurai sword" that you control by swiping your finger across the screen. You can customise the screen and your sword as you play - It's a fruit fight on your phone!

Available: Android, IPhone

- 'Tomb Run' is a fast game where you run and jump over and under obstacles. I found it quite difficult in the beginning as you need to react quickly but it's also highly addictive - and the more you practice the better you become - have a go!

Available: Android, BlackBerry 9810, IPhone

  • Travel apps

- 'Triposo' works as a mini travel guide and with access to 8000 destinations this makes it a very useful app. You do not need an Internet connection to access the app which is helpful when you are on the move. Information is regularly updated and includes a currency converter, phrase book and suggestions for explorations.

Available: Android, IPhone

- 'Skyscanner' is the app version of skyscanner.net and it is an extremely helpful tool for comparing prices on flights for the date you want to fly (or even for when don't know the exact date). Direct and indirect flight options are included and apart from searching airlines the app also includes prices from other comparison sites in its results.

Available: Android, IPhone, Windows Phone

- ‘Google Googles’ is the techy app that searches just by taking a photo with your phone. The app recognises objects like landmarks, logos and book covers. It isn’t able to recognise food or animals but they are working on this functionality. It is a very useful ‘on the go’ app for when you’re out and about.

Available: Android, IPhone

  • Social media apps

I decided not to include apps like Facebook and Twitter as they are “no-brainers” so here are a few that you might not have heard about:

- ‘Foursquare’ is a location-based social networking app where you can ‘check-in’ at venues and connect with friends by using your smart-phone. Points are awarded at check-ins and users are encouraged to enter details such as what you are doing at the venue. Additionally, you can get recommendations and deals depending on your favourite places.

Available: Android, IPhone, Windows Phone

- ‘Pinterest’ is described as a virtual pinboard which lets you share photos and topics of interest with the online community. It’s an interesting way of discovering new websites and can even be used to draw traffic to your hubpages! It’s a good way of finding inspiration and connecting with others who share your interests.

Available: Android, IPhone

- ‘Whatsapp’ is a free instant messenger platform that is accessible on an Internet connection or mobile network connection. Apart from sending messages, you can upload photos and film clips and share them with your friends. As I have relatives in Sweden - this tool has proved invaluable. I even use it more than my usual SMS service.

IPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone

  • Photography

- ‘Pixlr-o-matic’ delivers plenty of options for editing your photos, in fact there are so many that your photo can have 5000,000 finishes! It is very easy to use and produces some incredible results. It is also easy to share your creations on facebook, twitter, gmail and countless other platforms. I love this app!

Available: Android, IPhone

- ‘Photoshop express’ is a mini version of the software programme and allows you to crop, rotate, adjust colour and add artistic effects. The app is described as ‘powerful’ and ‘easy to use’ – who needs an expensive editing version for your PC or Mac when you can get this app for free on your smartphone.

Available: Android, IPhone

- ‘Instagram’ is an extremely popular platform for snapping away and sharing your photos with friends. It doesn’t have the plethora of photographic finishes as pixlr-o-matic but it has its own community and sharing options. It will let your friends see what you ate for lunch instantly!

Available: Android, IPhone



What is your favourite app and which one do you find most useful?

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    • profile image

      alwaysamber 4 years ago

      Temple Run is so addicting lol. I used to play it all of the time. I also like fruit Ninja. Map my run is great and I have used it several times. Instagram is my all time favorite, though! Awesome hub!

    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

      I may need to check out the Drinking Water app! I always struggle to get enough daily water. RunKeeper and Kindle are some of my favorite apps.

    • Louise Lately profile image
      Author

      Louise Lately 4 years ago from London, UK

      alwaysamber - thank you for commenting:) I'm so glad you like it. I find that some apps are so hard to put down that I almost miss my stop when I'm on the bus in the mornings!

    • Louise Lately profile image
      Author

      Louise Lately 4 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for reading my latest hub Faith:) I have to check out RunKeeper actually - looking for some really good health apps. Speak to you again soon!

    • profile image

      barry3 4 years ago

      Ive just got a new smartphone and needed some tips. Many thanks

    • profile image

      Kaylah 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these useful apps Louise! I finally got around to upgrading my old phone to a newer Android, so I definitely appreciate this list! Right now my favorite app is DISH Anywhere. I consider it to be pretty useful too because of all the traveling I do for my job at DISH. With the app I’m able to watch all of my shows from home, live or from off my DVR, everywhere I go in the world. I’m a TV junkie, so it’s a great app to use to keep up with my favorite shows while I’m halfway across the country. :)

    • Louise Lately profile image
      Author

      Louise Lately 4 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you Kaylah! And I will definitely check out DISH Anywhere, it sounds useful:) Louise

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      One of my children introduced me to Angry Birds. I like the fact that it requires strategy to achieve results. It is the only game I have on my phone.

      As for most other apps, I decided that the smarter my phone gets, the more stupid I feel. lol.

    • Louise Lately profile image
      Author

      Louise Lately 4 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your comment LongTimeMother! There are so many apps, but out of all of the games I think Angry Birds is one of the best! And they've got such cute shirpy sounds too.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Great job on the details in this hub. I am an avid iPad user with an android phone........(bout to switch to iphone). I didn't know about a few of those apps like the drink my water app. I drink tons of water but I know so many friends of mine who don't so this is very useful to know about. Speaking of Sweden, I have a friend of mine who lives there. Beautiful country from what I've heard. God bless, voting up, sharing!

    • Louise Lately profile image
      Author

      Louise Lately 3 years ago from London, UK

      Hi Kasman! Many thanks for your comment:) There are so many apps available but I really like these ones. I am Swedish but I actually live in London at the moment. Although I visit Sweden very often! Thanks for checking out my hub.

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