There’s an app for that! With over 250,000 apps currently available on iTunes for the iPhone and iPod Touch, it may difficult to find those that are worthwhile amongst all the apps that are worthless. Ranging from making light saber noises (or fart noises), to finding local restaurants and shops, to finding out your BAC, the purposes of the apps are endless. Here are my top 10 iPhone applications that are very useful, lack in bugs, and easy to use.
A strange thing happened on the way to a Technology Review keynote the other day. Four like-minded panelists unveiled their favorite gadgets; and before you jump to any conclusions, it was neither the iPad nor the super-awesome new iPod Touch (which I prefer to call the iPad Mini).
No–as it turns out each one of the panelists exhibited varying portable base stations used to boost wireless signals.
It’s no surprise that we’re aggravating ourselves toward a mentality of instant gratification and southern-style “demanding” of “satisfaction,” however, how many of us would go the extra step to further clutter our already massively cluttered landscape and rooftop scenes with more towers and machinery? All of us? That’s correct.
Wi-Fi and signal strength can be very unforgiving and frustrating for anyone who is used to enjoying rapid-paced internet and phone service in their equally rapid-paced Starbuck’s-fueled lives. One moment we’re enjoying the unprecedented speed of a mobile application for…well…let’s say…the iPod Touch, or any cell phone. The next minute you’re lost in an unrelenting sea of No Service. Sure, you could stand outside of a coffee shop, desperately pacing back and forth trying to pick up their signal, or you could introduce yourself to the Future.
Actually, we’re already there…and we might be able to un-clutter our landscapes and rooftops at the same time. Qualcomm’s senior vice president unveiled a portable femtocell base station that generates a signal over a 10 meter radius–and it’s about the size of a TV remote.
Imagine these bad boys simply planted around the city, or office, hidden in plants or trees, scattered about public parks, and now imagine them to have almost limitless signal strength and reach for miles and miles. OK, now you’re dreaming too big…for now.
The corporate head honchos expect to see a gigantic spike in cell phone use over the next five years. Alice White, a vice president at Bell Labs, expects that 40% of phones will be smart phones simultaneously running any number of apps, and if something is not done to prepare for that kind of usage, consumers will be tearing out their hair–so to speak.
The wheels are in motion to begin planting these portable cell phone towers in key areas. If no power source is nearby, the devices can be rigged to run on solar power. Mmm…green.
If all goes according to plan, we will inevitably see a huge increase in the ability to view, create, and share large multimedia files with ease and peace of mind. According to a CEO at Sprint, “Wireless has been the fastest adopted technology in history. There are more cell phones in use today than TVs, PCs and cars combined.”
Femtocells are designed to fill in “coverage holes” that often occur in homes and small businesses, Jonathan Segel, executive director of Alcatel-Lucent’s CTO Group, noted during his EmTech presentation Wednesday about mobile apps. In addition, he pointed out that cities have begun to turn to “metro cells” (which provide a range of several kilometers…okay now you can start dreaming big again) to offload data traffic in densely populated areas.
The trend over time is for mobile phone cells to continue to shrink while providing better service to wireless users. “Because your phone isn’t having to shout [to reach a cell tower], your battery life is better,” according to Rupert Baines, vice president of marketing for picoChip, a maker of chips used in femtocells. “If the signal doesn’t have to go too far you’ll get better quality, you’re covering less people with each base station and each person is getting more capacity.” PicoChip recently introduced a new processor designed to boost even small portable base station signals so they can be used in a variety of public spaces, including shopping malls and airports.
Urbanspoon’s much-loved app is now available via free download for your new or refurbished Blackberry. If you haven’t used it already on the iPhone, the Urbanspoon app is a restaurant finder with a little twist. Once set to your area (via GPS or you can just enter your zip), the app shows you three tumblers: the first shows a list of neighborhoods, the second shows types of foods, and the third shows a price scale. Once you click to spin the tumblers, the app will randomly select a restaurant.
You can lock each tumbler, however, so if you are craving Chinese, just lock the type of food tumbler and the other two will spin and randomly show you different Chinese restaurants in different neighborhoods in your area. The app is really fun to use and is a great way to discover new spots to eat. When Urbanspoon lands on a restaurant, the app will show the restaurant’s info (capacity, owner, email address, inspection and permit history) as well as photos, menus, user ratings, and reviews.
You can download the Urbanspoon App at Blackberry’s Appworld for free, but be aware that it is highly addictive.
Dictionary.com, one of my favorite websites, now has an app for Blackberry cell phones. The Dictionary.com app also includes their sister site, Thesaurus.com, and the two sites combine to give you an app containing over 500,000 terms and definitions as well as more than 275,000 synonyms.
The app also includes a word of the day in both English and Spanish, spelling suggestions, and phonetic and audio pronunciations. And the best part about the app is that IT’S FREE! The Dictionary.com app is really handy as you’ll be surprised at how often you use it (or should use it) throughout your daily routine. The word of the day feature makes it really easy to inflate your vocabulary. Now go forth, download, and teach thyself.