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30 Apps You Should Know About
by
Posted On May 7, 2019
I love looking at other people’s phones. Not to be nosy about their incoming texts (although it can be tempting sometimes; I’m human!)—but to see what apps they use so I can get ideas for new ones to try out.

Join us in taking a peek at the phones of some Information Today and NewsBreaks writers to find your next favorite app.


Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“The Announcement feature lets me send text to all of our associated smart speakers, so I can have Alexa say annoying things like ‘Good morning morning morning, good day. Have a very happy new day of blooming flowers, bro!’ to wake up my son for me.”

—Woody Evans


buddhify

buddhify

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“Barbara Ehrenreich recently wrote about how there are a number of meditation apps available and that they are a waste of time. I actually thought that sounded pretty good, so I went through a number of them. Many of them are ‘free,’ meaning that they give you a sample and hit you up for the paid version. buddhify just costs a few dollars and that’s it.”

—Terry Ballard


Calm

Calm

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“Calm isn’t exactly cheap ($59.99 per year or $399.99 for a lifetime subscription), but I look at it as an investment in my mental health. I use one of the guided meditations every day, and when I’m having trouble sleeping, I use the app’s Sleep Stories. I also love its breathing bubble, which is helpful for grounding myself during anxious moments.”

—Brandi Scardilli


Checkbook - Account Tracker

Checkbook - Account Tracker

Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“As much as I dislike money, I’ve gotta keep tabs on my family finances, and this little app allows me to accurately keep track of what’s in my bank account and what I’ve spent. I love this app so much that I actually paid the upgrade fee to get some additional features and no ads.”

—Justin Hoenke


Clear

Clear

Website | Apple App Store

“The ultimate and most satisfying grocery list app. Type in what you’ve got to pick up and swipe left to have one of most simple and satisfying ‘you’ve accomplished something’ moments. Simple, easy to use, and colorful, Clear has been a mainstay for years on my smartphone.”

—Justin Hoenke


Day One

Day One

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“Day One is an extremely powerful and highly intuitive catchall app that allows me to use voice recognition for my early morning start-my-day sessions to figure out how the heck I’m gonna navigate that day! I’ve been using it intensively for the last four months and still haven’t tapped all its capabilities. It’s great.”

—Brendan Howley


Dragon Anywhere

Dragon Anywhere

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“For straight-up voice recognition, I use Nuance Dragon Anywhere, the most nearly precise dictation software I’ve ever used—I have it on my phone and my tablet and find it especially useful to dictate scripts and text while I’m driving.”

—Brendan Howley


Feedly

Feedly

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“Who says RSS feeds are dead? For me, the RSS feed is the way I get all of my news, and to organize them, I’ve always used Feedly. Their iOS app is amazing and has a lot of great features that allow me to read things later, mark things as read, and start my own collections of articles that I enjoy.”

—Justin Hoenke


FlightAware Flight Tracker

FlightAware Flight Tracker

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“Since I speak at and organize a number of conferences, I’m frequently traveling both in the U.S. and internationally. Apps from the airlines and hotels can be lifesavers, particularly when the weather changes my travel plans. Each works a little differently, so that can get confusing. For air travel, I rely on FlightAware. It shows all the airlines, tells me where my plane is coming from, and details airport delay times.”

—Marydee Ojala


Google Photos

Google Photos

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“One of the three big reasons I have a smartphone is for the ability to take photos (the other two are to talk to my family and to listen to and write music). I am the de facto picture taker in my family, so I like to not only have a good way to take photos, but a good way to store and organize them. Google Photos is the best way that I’ve come across to do this. I have over 80GB of photos on there that sync across my laptop and phone.”

—Justin Hoenke


Home Workout

Home Workout

Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“Home Workout is for those who don’t want to pay for/don’t like the gym. All the workouts are doable without any equipment (except a workout mat), and it’s a great way to get some quick exercise in before or after work.”

—Tom Rodenby


Kanopy

Kanopy

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“I’ve been loving Kanopy. With your participating library card, you can watch up to four films per month for free (my system doesn’t have Kanopy, so I use my Free Library of Philadelphia card, which anyone in Pa. can get). I’ve explored a number of indie films this way that I never had access to before.”

—Jessica Hilburn


LG Health

LG Health

Google Play Store

“I use my phone’s native fitness tracker app. I only live about 2 km from work, so this helps encourage me to bike, walk, or scooter instead of driving my daily commute. Thanks, Michelle Obama—we miss you!”

—Woody Evans


Libby

Libby

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“I am probably one of the last people to join the Libby fan club, but we just got access to it in our library system, and I am addicted. I had never tried audiobooks before, and Libby has changed my life. You can attach multiple library cards (I have three) to access a wide range of available titles. Since getting Libby, I have tried some other digital audiobook platforms, and they have not quite measured up. The controls you have on Libby (speed, chapters, time jumping) are so user-friendly. In the first week, I read ten books!”

—Jessica Hilburn

“My county has an enviable selection of ebooks and audiobooks, but getting through the hoops in OverDrive was always frustrating. When I first heard about Libby, I was skeptical, but it turned out to be everything it promised—seamless access to the books, as well as an interface for picking the next one, and the ability to put things on hold.”

—Terry Ballard


Libib

Libib

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“I covered Libib back in 2015 (here), and I’ve been a fan ever since. I use it to organize the titles of books and Blu-rays I buy onto digital shelves (in addition to the physical ones). There’s a barcode scanner built in to the app, so I don’t even have to enter the metadata—I just scan the item. I move titles to a shelf I named Loaned Out for when I, well, loan them out. Some would call this anal retentive and compulsive; I would call it organized and detail-oriented.”

—Brandi Scardilli


LingoDeer

LingoDeer

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“LingoDeer is a free language app that I’ve found is particularly good for Asian languages. You can download all the lessons to use offline, and the revision system is brilliant for consolidating learning.”

—Tom Rodenby


Medium

Medium 

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“Medium is a self-publishing platform where writers can make money. Subscriptions cost a mere $5 per month, and subscribers who ‘clap’ for a writer’s article allow that writer to be paid. More claps equal more payment. Some writers earn as much as $8,000 per month.”

—Anthony Aycock


Merlin Bird ID

Merlin Bird ID

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“This is an app by Cornell University that can help you identify any bird you see, pretty much anywhere in the world. The app can help you ID a bird in a photo, ask questions to help you determine a bird you recently saw, or you can just explore its other cool features. I love how easy it is to navigate and that it uses pictures instead of wordy descriptions for those who don’t know exactly how to describe what they saw. Put in your location, the general size (As big as a goose? Or more like a crow?), color(s), and where you saw the bird for a list of possible suspects!”

—Jessica Hilburn


Music Memos

Music Memos

Website | Apple App Store

 “When I am not librarianing it up, I am writing and recording music as part of the group Abigail Foster’s Photosynthesis Machine. Having an app that allows me to record creative ideas on-the-go is a must, and Music Memos is the easiest I’ve ever used. It doesn’t get in the way of capturing a creative moment, and for that I am thankful.”

—Justin Hoenke


PhotoScan

PhotoScan

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“This uses your phone to thoroughly scan any photo or document and get it sent along for further treatment. It freed me up from a lot of time spent on my printer/scanner.”

—Terry Ballard


PIXLR

PIXLR

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“One of a great number of alternatives to the expensive Photoshop. This app allows you to edit any photo residing on your cell and do cropping, color enhancing, captioning, and many other things to make the photos more presentable.”

—Terry Ballard


Podcast Republic

Podcast Republic

Website | Google Play Store

“When mowing the yard, I like to listen to Gordon White’s Rune Soup, @thejaymo’s 301: Permanently Moved, or our friend (and fellow radical militant librarian) Bluestocking’s Steampunk Dollhouse. This podcast app makes it easy for me to track new content and queue episodes.”

—Woody Evans


ProtonMail

ProtonMail

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“When I started getting insurance, bank, and medical records for other Terry Ballards in Gmail, I decided it was time to get a more secure option for business-related emails. This was developed by CERN. You might have heard about other things they developed, such as the World Wide Web.”

—Terry Ballard


RBdigital

RBdigital

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“I like audiobooks, and this app has a lot of ’em! The functionality is better than Libby or other public library apps. It also has ebooks, videos, magazines, and comics.” 

—Anthony Aycock

“My favorite and most frequently used app is RBdigital. I use it to download popular magazines from my local public library. As a reading platform, it has two big advantages. First, it displays the magazines in PDF, which is important in the many cases when the actual look of the publication is important. Second, the PDF view is clumsy for reading a long article. For this case, RBdigital converts the article to an easily read text version. Finally, of course, both the app and the library-provided content are free.”

—Mick O’Leary


SoloLearn

SoloLearn

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“SoloLearn is a free app for learning how to code. There are so many lessons, and it is suitable for beginners (like me!) and veterans.”

—Tom Rodenby


Tasty

Tasty

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“Tasty has videos showing how to make the recipes in its database—it’s like your own personal Food Network. You can save favorite recipes and read tips from others who have tested them out. I have it set to show only vegetarian recipes in search results, but there are a variety of other filters.”

—Brandi Scardilli


Tempo Advance

Tempo Advance

Website | Apple App Store

“I’m an amateur musician (drums and piano), and it’s nice to have a metronome handy. Tempo Advance is an iOS app ($3.99) that lets you choose up to 20 beats per measure, select a tempo from 10 to 800 BPM(!), and save settings so you don’t have to reconfigure them every time you play.”

—Thomas Pack


TV Time

TV Time

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“I’m obsessive about my TV watching, and this app keeps track of the airdates of every show on my list, as well as upcoming premieres or pilots I don’t want to forget about. I love that when I search for a new show, the app lists which streaming service(s) make(s) it available, and the episode summaries are really helpful for when I need to brush up on a season before the next one starts.”

—Brandi Scardilli


WeChat

WeChat

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

WhatsApp

WhatsApp

Website | Apple App Store | Google Play Store

“I will be spending two months in China this summer and have downloaded a number of apps that are proving invaluable for overseas travel, particularly to China. WeChat is to China what Facebook is to the rest of the world, but more so. WeChat’s wallet feature has become the de facto payment system for platforms like car and bike sharing, restaurants and convenience stores, online shopping, etc. Another critical service is WhatsApp, a web-based phone and texting tool that most of the Chinese businesses that I’ve interacted with use in addition to, if not instead of, a phone number.”

—George Pike


Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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