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Phone apps you should know about

Most phones used in Australia today are smartphones, and one of the biggest benefits smartphones bring is access to apps.

Short for ‘application’, an app is a piece of software specially designed to be stored on and used on your smartphone or tablet.

Apps help people solve problems, indulge their interests and make it easy to join shared interest communities. But because there’s an app for almost anything you can think of, figuring out which ones to try might be a little overwhelming.

This article offers a guide to popular apps you might find useful, with the bonus that most of them are free.

For bookworms – Goodreads
If you like to settle in with a good book from time to time, then this is the app for you. Goodreads calls itself “a social network for readers” and is a great way to discover, rate, and discuss books from every genre. Available on: Google Play, App Store

A bit of fun – Words with Friends
Words With Friends will likely take your fancy if you like playing a bit of Scrabble, because it’s basically the same. Open the app to compete against friends, family, and strangers with similar skill levels. Words With Friends also includes weekly challenges, in-game chat, solo play for extra practice and the ability to track your performance with detailed game statistics. Available on: Google Play, App Store

Staying in touch WhatsApp
WhatsApp is consistently one of the most popular messaging apps in the world. It’s as simple to use as your phone’s text messaging feature, but allows you to send text, pictures and video using your device’s data connection. You can also use it to make calls, (including video calls), and it’s extremely easy to have group conversations using WhatsApp – perfect for chatting or coordinating with different sets of people. This makes it an ideal tool for anyone with family and friends overseas, so long as the people on the other end have WhatsApp installed on their devices. Available on: Google Play, App Store

Staying healthy – Health Direct
Supported by the federal and state governments, Health Direct is a simple, 100 per cent doctor-approved source of health information and advice. It’s a helpful tool for finding local practitioners (especially after hours) and includes an easy-to-follow ‘Symptom Checker’.

Health Direct also includes factual, clinically reviewed information on health conditions and medications. You can use the app to research and find health services near you, learn more about your current prescriptions, or determine the seriousness of symptoms when you’re unwell – so although it’s no substitute for a professional consultation, it’s an empowering tool for Australians wanting to take control of their health. Available on: Google Play, App Store

Taking your medicine – Pillboxie
Do you ever forget to take your medicine? Pillboxie lets you ‘visually’ manage your medicine with a customisable scheduler. Create a timetable of when you’re supposed to take any medicines using an array of pill shape and colour combinations, so when the (pleasant sounding) alarm goes off you’ll know what to take and what it looks like. Pillboxie doesn’t need an internet connection to work and will remind you on time even if your device is asleep. Available on the App Store for $2.99

For foodies – Cookpad
Cookpad is like a social network for cooking. It’s a global recipe-sharing platform that lets you publish your own recipes and try out ones shared by other people. You can search for recipes by ingredient name or dish, follow individual members, and even communicate with other cooks for advice. Become part of a cooking community, discover recipes from around the world and invite your friends and family to form a cooking social network. Available on: Google Play, App Store

For seeing clearly – By My Eyes
Be My Eyes is designed to bring sight to the blind and visually impaired. With the press of a button the app establishes a live video connection between the visually impaired user and a sighted volunteer. To keep the volunteers anonymous, users can only hear their voice, while the volunteer is able to see footage from the caller’s rear phone camera. This effectively allows them to lend their eyes to solve challenges both big and small in the lives of the visually impaired.

The app can take a good few seconds to connect while it sources an available volunteer, but once connected you talk with the volunteer to help with your query. From checking the use-by date on food to helping read a letter, it’s a great way to help solve some of the little problems that poor sight can cause. Available on: Google Play, App Store

For hearing clearly – Live Transcribe
Although still in development, Live Transcribe is likely to be a useful tool for people with poor hearing. The app performs real-time transcription of speech-to-text on your screen, making it easier to participate in conversations. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can take more active roles in conversations by typing responses on the screen. Live Transcribe provides transcription in over 70 languages and features bilingual support for switching between languages. Available on: Google Play

If you found this list helpful, why not pay a visit to WhistleOut where you’ll find an extended list of useful phone apps like these.

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Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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