Cool App-titude

April 1, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

Creating a floor plan typically requires a tape measure and some patience, but the free RoomScan app for iPhone could make the process much easier.

Users simply tap each wall in a room with their phone, and the app generates a drawing of the floor plan in seconds—no sketching or measuring required. Add doors to the plan by touching the door frame.

According to the app creator Locometric, RoomScan draws complex rooms just as easily as small rectangular rooms. To improve the accuracy, users can pair the app with a laser measure, and the program combines the measurements for one floor plan. Measurements are available in metric, feet and inches along with East Asian units.

March 25, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

The America's Economy app from the U.S. Census Bureau provides real-time updates for 20 key economic indicators to track trends and changes. The free app, available for iOS and Android, uses information from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

App users will find a quick overview of indicators measuring the U.S. economy along with a detailed page for each indicator with trend data. Indicators include: advance monthly retail sales; construction spending; homeownership rate; international trade; personal income; real gross domestic product; and the unemployment rate, among others.

March 18, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

The earthquake that hit Los Angeles this week gave many on the West Coast a rude awakening. While the quake caused minimal damage, it served as a good reminder to prepare your family or home as much as possible for a natural disaster.

March 4, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

For those working in academia, finding the best way to annotate, manage and share papers can be complicated. The PaperShip app for iPad and iPhone targets the scientific community and makes it easier to download, read and manage a personal library of research.

February 25, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

Like it or not, the act of taking a photo "selfie" has become a prominent part of the digital age. Oxford Dictionaries made selfie its 2013 word of the year, and even President Obama has been caught with his arm outstretched taking a photo with a smartphone. Since the selfie phenomenon isn't going anywhere, why not make it even easier?

The free CamMe app for iOS lets you prop up your phone and take a picture of you or a group of friends up to 16 feet away. Simply raise your hand and close it into a fist to activate the camera, and it snaps away. Take a few photos in a row with the PhotoBooth option and share your favorites to social networks.

February 18, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

If you travel frequently for business or for pleasure, chances are you're earning some kind of rewards—from frequent flyer miles to hotel and credit card points. But are you tracking all these loyalty programs and getting the most from your memberships?

AwardWallet for iOS and Android is a free program that tracks all your accounts on one screen. Let the app monitor your progress and notify you when your balances change or before the points expire. Once you've logged in, the data is available in an offline mode, so you can track travel plans and accounts without an Internet connection.

February 11, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

Many people probably took a few language classes at some point in their lives. That Spanish class you barely passed in high school. The language learning CDs collecting dust in the closet. For me, it was three years of French that promptly went out the window. But I recently got inspired to brush up on my skills, and the Duolingo app has turned out to be quite a find.

February 4, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

Thanks to a handful of helpful apps, Olympic fans can follow their favorite athletes even when they're on the go.

January 28, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

A lot of websites and apps offer weather predictions, but what if you could get a much more detailed forecast? The Dark Sky app for iPhone and iPad, which got its start as a Kickstarter project back in November 2011, predicts rain and storms down to the minute based on your exact location. While a typical weather app may warn of a "20 percent chance of rain in Washington, D.C., for the day," the Dark Sky app could send you a push notification 20 minutes before the rain literally passes over your house.

January 14, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

Bring your text messages to life. This new app turns words into videos using exclusive stock video from the Getty Images library. Just compose a text message, and the app selects related clips and creates a preview. Then, tweak the preview by adjusting the font, adding a soundtrack or adding your own video clips from your device. The result is a fun, visual way to get your message to friends and followers.

Stock videos typically come with a price tag, so Wordeo users benefit from free Getty content within the app.

Want to see more? Check out the Wordeo website for examples.

January 7, 2014
By Rachel Lilly

Tap into the power of OpenStreetMap on your iPhone. OpenStreetMap is a free wiki world map, where anyone can contribute by editing and adding tags or creating places. With the free OpenMaps app or the expanded OpenMaps Pro for $2.99, you can pinpoint your location, search online for nearby addresses or business, get directions and even make your own corrections or additions to the information you receive.

Want to know what other people are saying about a location? Scan the map for geotweets.

December 31, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

Do you travel frequently for business? The free Concur app could help you manage all your travel-related plans and expenses.

Book airfare and hotels; manage flight and car itineraries; check flight status; approve travel requests; and change or cancel reservations. While you're away, track business expenses and receipts. View credit card transactions and add them to expense reports, upload receipts with your camera phone and submit expense reports on the go. Those with manager access also can approve or reject expense reports and invoices.

December 17, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

Two things often come to mind around the holidays: giving gifts and kicking it into gear with resolutions for the new year. Want an easy way to combine both? The free Charity Miles app for iOS and Android lets you earn money and raise awareness for charities by walking, running or biking. Get fit and give back at the same time!

Just choose a charity and get moving. The app uses GPS to measure your distance. Bikers earn 10¢ per mile; walkers and runners earn 25¢ per mile, all up to an initial $1,000,000 corporate sponsorship pool.

Follow the initiative with the hashtag #EveryMileMatters.

December 3, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

Want to learn more about your mobile broadband performance while helping the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) securely map data from across the United States? The free FCC Speed Test app for Android accurately measures and tracks mobile broadband performance over time. This includes an in-depth view of download and upload speed, latency and packet loss.

Once installed, the app will run periodically in the background. It tests your mobile network (cellular or Wi-Fi) and utilizes aggregated anonymous data to map broadband performance.

November 26, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

With the holiday season underway, spending (or saving) money is more important than ever for many consumers. The new BillGuard app for iOS helps you stay on top of spending habits by providing analytics, smart savings alerts and protection against fraud and billing errors.

Use the app to view your spending over time. BillGuard also searches the Web for coupons that will lower your bills based on spending patterns. You can verify or flag a charge, and over time, the app learns and prioritizes what items you may want to review and alerts you of unwanted or unauthorized charges.

The app supports more than 5,000 credit and bank accounts.

November 19, 2013
By Rachel Lilly
Keynote app for iPad and iPhone

You don't have to be tied to a desk to prepare for an upcoming presentation. The Keynote app for iPad and iPhone makes it easy to create a slide deck complete with animation, charts, images and more.

Simply pick from one of 30 themes, add your information and present right on your mobile device. You also can use video mirroring to present on an HDTV while viewing the Presenter Display on your phone or tablet. Presentations are accessible across devices through iCloud.

November 12, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

Failing to meet a goal can sting—especially with the Beeminder app for iOS and Android. It tracks your progress toward a goal and makes you literally pay the price if you go off track. The first offense is free, but after that, you'll pay $5 every time you derail.

To begin, simply set a goal that can be tracked on a graph. When prompted by the app, either manually input data points or connect to a device, such as a Fitbit, to report automatically.

Download the free app from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

November 5, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

As voters across the U.S. head to the polls, it's easier than ever to keep up with news and analysis on your iPhone or iPad. The Politics Today app uses an algorithm to create a custom content viewing experience. It pulls and continuously updates articles from publications, journalists, institutions and opinion leaders.

The app selects the most interesting articles, videos and audio content and filters out items considered low interest. Share your favorite items through Twitter and Facebook.

You can purchase the app from the iTunes App Store for $0.99.

October 29, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

A new way to discover and watch videos on your iPad or iPhone. The free Rockpack app makes it easy to create, share and follow video playlists called "packs."

Add your favorite videos you find online and make packs based on your interests. Then, follow packs from your friends and other users or search the app to discover content.

Rockpack contains thousands of packs of videos created by users, including celebrities.

Download the app from the iTunes App Store.

October 22, 2013
By Rachel Lilly

It's one of the first word processors made with mobile devices in mind. The free Quip app for the iPhone and iPad lets you create documents on the go while collaborating with others through the chat feature.

Make lists, take notes, tackle a work project--the app makes it easy. Organize documents into folders and share them with your friends, family or co-workers. Every document has a chat thread, so you can edit together in real time.

The app works offline and syncs when an Internet connection is available.