Apps On A Leash

How to make apps work to your advantage
Team G&G        Print Edition: May 2013

We all use apps. In fact, our devices are full of apps downloaded over many months , but seldom used. A majority of smartphone and tablet users download apps, but fail to use them to their advantage. While the most revisited apps are games or common apps like YouTube or Google, productivity apps are the last on most people's list.

It is time we became power users, using the apps at our disposal to reduce workloads and make our lives simpler.

WATCH TV ON THE GO
As the viewer, you now control what you watch. And, for this you don't need to have a DVR at home. Use apps on your smart device or notebook to stream live and recorded content. Many live TV apps are free, but you will incur data charges if viewing videos on the 2G or 3G network. Use these apps to see what you want, when you want.

>> Ditto TV By Zee Entertainment
Optimised for Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, the Ditto TV offers over 50+ live channels covering news, business and entertainment. Most channels popular in India are available. But after a twoday trial you will need to pay upwards of `49 for three channels per month.

>> Mundu TV By Geodesic
Compatible with any internet enabled device, MunduTV has a decent list of channels including devotional and music channels. This app also offers choice of regional content.


KEEP KIDS ENGAGED
Children these days are digital natives for whom technology is nothing to be awed about. So the best way to keep them engaged is to give them a phone or tablet with a good number of made-for-kids apps. These apps could also become a way to bond with your little one.

>> Nighty Night By Shape Minds and Moving Images GmbH
Nighty Night is an interactive bedtime book for toddlers. The idea is to switch off the lights one by one and make all the animals in the farm sleep. The narration is good enough to keep the kids interested. If you are lucky, your little one will sleep too by the time all the lights are out.

>> Me Books By me books
Me Books allows users to create personal editions of picture books by rewriting classics. One can tap to play and stop the audio book, tap to see hotspot or double tap and swipe to initiate edit. The app gives access to titles from popular publishers like Penguin, Puffin and Ladybird.

>> iStoryTree By TechTree IT Systems Pvt Ltd
This new app gives four interactive stories for kids with great narration and interesting visuals and animations. The only drag at the moment is the lack of more stories and the fact that the download is a bit too heavy.


APP DISCOVERY
When you have millions of applications to choose from, finding the relevant and best ones is a challenge. So among the most popular apps these days are apps that let you find new apps you haven't heard about. Some also keep you posted on app deals. Open one periodically to see what is trending or free.

>> Best App Market By bestappmarket.com
This Android app helps organise, consolidate and select the best apps. It has got a neat interface with tabs for top apps, top games, browse along with 'hot today' and 'apps for you'. It also alerts about the top apps of the day.

>> App of the Day By guillaume sztejnberg
This must-have app helps save money by offering one paid app for free everyday. Each offer is on for 24 hours and there are serious discounts available.


MAKE PHOTOS BETTER
We have over the years told you about apps that let you make your photos better. Apps are bringing in new editing capabilities to mobile devices.

>> Repix; By Sumoing Ltd
A play on the word remix, this app stands out from the rest by tweaking just parts of a picture.

>> Phoster; By Bucket Labs
One of our best app picks for last year, this one changes photos into well-designed posters using templates.

>> Snapseed; By Nik Software, Inc
This photo editing software lets you do things for which you will otherwise need a handful of apps.

PLAY GAMES FROM PAST
While we are exposed to new mobile games every day, there is still a charm associated with the Super Marios and Western Bars of our childhood. Some of these old favourites have made a comeback in the form of apps. It is time to go a level up on nostalgia.

>> Pac-Man By Namco Networks America Inc Games
Play the classic PC game on your iPad or tablet in original, normal and easy modes. Mazes can be negotiated by touching the onscreen controller in 'joystick mode'. The free version is limited to the first level. You need to pay to play beyond this.

>> Tetris By EA
This blockbuster tile game from the early 1990s is back in a form similar to the old handheld games. You can still spend hours trying to achieve a clean slate or solve a brick puzzle. You also have a Tetris Marathon with 15 levels along with Tetris Galaxy, Tetris Rans and T-Club.


AVOID TRAFFIC ON THE ROAD
Maps, geo tagging and even voice navigation are passe. The latest thing on the road is live traffic updates. Many countries have been enjoying this service for close to a decade. But in India the service is relatively new and that shows. Limited to some locations, the data is not 100 per cent reliable yet. But this is definitely here to stay.

>> Traffline By Birds Eye Systems
Available for users in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, this app was developed to ease frustrations of commuters. This app instantly checks traffic conditions in the area or along the route opted for to help you avoid traffic jams.

>> Google Maps By Google
For years, we have been using Google Maps for directions without voice guidance. But late last year, Google added voice navigation and traffic updates for a few selected cities. Live traffic updates tell you which roads to avoid and suggest alternatives.

>> Waze social GPS, maps & traffic; By Waze Inc
Long before Google and Nokia introduced live traffic update, Waze offered real-time traffic updates. The service crowd sources data from users driving in the same area. In India, the app uses inputs from SatNav technologies.


DIGITISE YOUR FILES
Most of us are still stuck in the world of papers even though we carry more than one device that can let us digitise most of this content. No, you don't need a scanner to do so. Yes, your smartphone or tablet can do this easily with the help of apps. Use the camera on these devices to click pictures of important notes and documents. Then use apps to make better use of these digitised files.

>> CamScanner HD By IntSig Information Co, Ltd
This mini scanner app lets you click pictures and convert them into a digital document. Click the picture of a document and the app will crop and straighten images as well as adjust contrast. You can also merge, share and print documents.

>> Docusign Ink By DocuSign
Once you have digitised a document, use this app to create a digital signature and sign online. You can create the sign on the touch interface of your phone or tablet or just click a picture of the signature on paper.


VOICE TRANSCRIPTION
Undoubtedly this is one of the solutions all of us want in a smart device. But there have been many barriers to this technology becoming foolproof, accent being one of them. Apps take down notes when one voice is speaking.

>> Voice Dictation By Quanticapps
This is definitely better than the free apps out there. But you have to speak slowly and with a straight accent for it to understand. Transcription is fast, with an accuracy rate of 70 per cent.

>> ListNote Speech/Text Notepad By Khymaera
A simple app that translates on the go. The app is fast and has good accuracy rates as it is using Google data. We encountered an accuracy rate of around 80 per cent.


MUSIC DISCOVERY
The smart device in your hand can be the single biggest source of music and entertainment for you. It can also helps discover new artistes.

>> Planetary By Boom Studio, Inc
This app is the closest you can get to browsing through a galaxy of music with artistes showing up as stars and albums as planets. Click alphabets to search.
Aweditorium By thesixtyone

An iPad-specific app, this one powers up a mosaic of pictures depicting artists and bands. Click on a random tile and it starts playing a song by the artist or band. Artiste info is also available.

>>Hungama By Hungama Digital Media Ent
The new Hungama app is for lovers of Bollywood and Indian music. We liked the app for its Discover tap that lets you listen to random tracks on your mood.


PERSONAL ASSISTANT
Apple does something and everyone follows it. This time we are talking about Siri, the intelligent personal assistant app that was introduced on the Apple iPhone 4S. Following Apple, Google introduced Now in its search app for smartphones running on Android Jelly Bean. But you need not rely on these default apps as there are plenty other personal assistants around.

>> Speaktoit Assistant By Speaktoit
This personal assistant apps offers a Siri-like experience. Easy to use, it understands what you are saying and performs actions such as launching Gmail, browsing the web, etc. It can also perform tasks such as calling, send text messages and emails, update statuses, organise calendar, tasks, set alarms, play music and video, launch applications and the like

>> Vlingo By vlingo
Available for all mobile platforms, Vlingo is a great app that aims at providing virtual assistant that can turn text into spoken words. It can also help get directions, initaite a mobile search, update social status or even send text while driving.


KEEP TRACK OF WORK
There are many apps that lets you organise tasks easily and there are also those that let you convert them into full fledged projects and mark progress.

>> Timeli; By Caffeine Monster Software
Use this iPad app to start a new project and set a time period. The same will appear in a calendar with coloured timelines for different projects. You can drag timelines to assign importance. No progress meter though.

>> Schedule Planner HD; By Intersog
Set a task and this app measures its progress in the form of charts and statistics. The tasks can be divided into categories like work, transport, health and even sleep or rest. It will show progress at any point.


LEARNING AGAIN
We have always considered the tablet a great learning tool, especially for children. There are many apps that let them explore their creativity and also learn things in a natural way. But there are apps that can teach new stuff to even the well-educated.

>> Kahn Academy By TEAMAPERIO
From Game Theory to Stereo Chemistry this app has a video to teach you all the heavy duty stuff. The content is best of its kind and gives you the feel of sitting in an actual classroom. Only for those seriously pursuing some knowledge.

>> Snapguide By Heavy Bits, Inc
Want to learn how to create a garden in a fishbowl, or how to convert a Coke can into a stove? Well, then this is the app for you. This might not be the place to look for things you want but to discover new knowledge.


REJIG YOUR EMAIL
Electronic mail is such an integral part of our lives that we have stopped taking it seriously. But aren't we bored by the way email is presented to us across platforms and devices? A bunch of apps are now trying to give a whole new take on email and we are pretty impressed.

>> Cloze; By Cloze
The app wants to make your "inbox human again". In other words, the app tells who your best connections are using data from across your mail and social networking accounts. Time to write a few mails.

>> Incredimail By Perion Network Ltd
This app presents your mail in a magazine-like format. This means you can see the content of multiple mail in a single screen. The app also shows pictures in the mail.


CONTENT AGGREGATION
How many websites will you open a day to keep tab of what is happening around the world or in your field of interest? Aggregation works quickly and even saves time by presenting content from different sources on a single platform. Two good apps for research and news consumption.

>> Dunno By spacestation6 Inc.
There are plenty of apps that can take notes or jot down reminders. But Dunno is one that can do all the research work and archive it. It has got a clean interface and is a musthave app.

>> Zite
Zite qualifies to be one of the best content aggregator apps and has a neat interface. It analyses millions of articles and fetches the best content from your favourite magazines, newspaper, blogs and videos. You can also link it to your social networking accounts.


CREATE MUSIC/VIDEOS
We are not going to talk about piano or guitar apps which are good if you known how to play the instrument. These are apps that lets you create music from scratch, and we mean that literally. Also, there are DJ apps that can rejig music as you like it.

>> Figure By Propellerhead Software AB
This app lets you start with basic beats and add more tweaks and mixes. The results will sound better if you know a bit of music. It can record your work and share it online.

>> DJ Player By iMect Ltd
A serious DJ app, you can take this one for a party if you like. The interface is not like a turntable, so you will take some time to get the hang of this interface. However, the app has everything you will need to mix.

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