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10 must-have smartphone apps

If you just got a new smartphone or tablet over the holidays, then you are probably thinking about loading up on a few apps – those wonderful little programs that transform our devices into navigation aids, encyclopedias, entertainment hubs, and more.

But with hundreds of thousands of apps available across all the different platforms, how do you find what you’re looking for? While there are numerous online sources that can help, perhaps the best way to find good apps is to ask a few family and friends for their recommendations.

While you are putting together that early list, here are 10 of The Online Mom's favorites:

Wi-Fi Finder

Whether you’re looking to catch up on some work, surf the web, or just check e-mail, Wi-Fi Finder has you covered. It uses your phone’s GPS to find a wireless connection point, and then gives you precise directions on how to get there. It’s great for travel, with over 650,000 locations in 144 countries, and you can even filter by location type – restaurant, café, hotel, etc.

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Cost: Free


You’re listening to a great song and you’d love to know what it is. Or you have a tune inside your head but you can’t think of the title. No problem – SoundHound will track down your track. Whether you hear the song in a crowded bar or you just sing or hum a few lines yourself, SoundHound will capture your tune and magically return the title and artist in just seconds.

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Price: Free

Lose It!

If you want to lose weight, you’ve got to count the calories. Lose It! will take your age, height, gender, current weight and target weight and give you a calorie “budget” to help you achieve your goal. It will also track the calories for everything you eat and drink, and estimate the calories you lose during your daily routines, including your exercises and work-outs. Statistics show that the average Lose It! user has lost more than 12 pounds and 85% of total users have lost weight!

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Cost: Free

Google Translate

This amazing app can instantly translate words and phrases between more than 60 languages. In many cases, you can just speak your phrases and have the translation spoken aloud back at you or the people you are with. You can pre-record and store previous translations for use when you are off line, or use many of the app’s standard phrases. There is even a full screen text mode for extended conversations. A must-have app for any traveler.

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Cost: Free


The medical profession may not be too fond of self-diagnosis but this app will quickly become indispensable for any busy mom. If you or a family member isn’t feeling well, you can research the symptoms and find out about possible causes, conditions, and treatments. If you need a doctor, you can locate the closest physician, pharmacist or hospital. All information is medically reviewed and many topics are accompanied by helpful slideshows and videos.

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Cost: Free

Cut the Rope

Every smartphone needs a few games and this is one of the best for adults or kids. Cut the Rope is a fun challenge that combines physics, puzzles, and goofy visuals. The lovable monster Om Nom wants candy – and he wants it NOW. Just cut the ropes with a swipe of your finger, collect stars, avoid enemies and obstacles, and feed Om Nom his bonbons.

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Cost: $0.99 iPhone, Android; $1.99 iPad


You used to need a Kindle e-reader to access the 1 million+ books in the Amazon e-book library but now with the Kindle app you can access those books from virtually any device. It’s amazing how quickly you can get used to reading books on your smartphone, and how easy it is to just pick up wherever you left off on another device, including your Kindle or computer. The Kindle app has virtually all the features you are used to on the e-reader, including variable text sizes and a one-click dictionary look-up.

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Cost: Free


Epicurious is one of the earliest but still one of the best of the many cooking apps that are now available. Whether it’s a holiday meal for the whole family, a romantic dinner for two, or just a healthy lunch for one, Epicurious will have dozens of recipes and suggestions. You can also enter the ingredients you have at home and Epicurious will come up with suggestions on how to incorporate them into a great meal. The app includes lots of feedback from other cooks, so you know which recipes are worth the effort.

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Cost: Free


Whether you are looking for something specific or you just want to know what’s in the area, AroundMe is the quickest and simplest way to find out information about your surroundings. Using your smartphone’s built-in GPS technology, AroundMe can pinpoint and direct you to the nearest gas station, bank, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket or anything else you need. Every listing is located on a map, with easy directions on how to get there.

Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
Cost: Free

Google Sky Map

Unlock the mysteries of the night sky and learn the constellations with the help of this star and planet gazing app. Just hold your phone up to view constellations and down to see what’s on the other side of the earth. Then search the sky to locate a favorite planet or celestial object. You can even use the time travel feature to check out future or historical skyscapes, like the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Platform: Android
Cost: Free

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