The variety of apps coming out these days for mobile devices like Android phones, IPhones and smart phones in general is nearly mind boggling. Sometimes it almost seems as if there is an app for nearly everything you could possibly need to do under the sun and sky. Al though you probably won’t find an app that cleans your house or walks your dog any time soon, (at least not until Android phones can turn into real androids) there are plenty of excellent “must-have” applications your mobile device could probably use. Install these and you’ll make your mobile experience and life easier, more entertaining and more useful in all sorts of ways. Some of the apps below are for all kinds of mobiles, others for Android or iPhone devices. Check which ones apply to you and keep in mind that if an app is available for any one model, it might soon also be available for many more; the market is growing all the time!
Google Maps Mobile (free)
Never carry a map with you anywhere you go from now on with Google Maps for Mobile devices. This handy little application hardly needs much introducing. It’s basically the same ever useful Google maps online system plugged directly into your mobile phone, helping you make sure you’re never lost or lacking for directions on how to reach point A, B C, or your nearest decent bar & grill.
The Google Maps mobile app also includes features for finding places, compass navigation, indoor maps and even offline navigation if you’ve cached your location data for certain areas.
MapQuest 4 Mobile (free)
The MapQuest 4 Mobile app is free for download and incredibly useful as a GPS navigation tool. You can spend a wad of money on a state of the art navigation system for your car, or you could simply download this MapQuest app without forking over a penny. Get access to turn by turn instructions, spoken driving directions and rerouting advice for those occasions in which you miss a turn or take the wrong road. MapQuest 4 Mobile is great for either driving or walking. Like Google maps, it also has a location finder that will tell you where the nearest cafes, bars, hotels and other venues are.
Facebook Mobile (free)
It seems that almost everyone around these days has a Facebook page. It’s understandable, the instant communications, photo and information sharing abilities it gives you are always handy. With the Facebook mobile app, which you can download from Facebook’s homepage, you can stay in contact with all your friends and coworkers just about anywhere, at any time.
Twitter Mobile (Free)
Like Facebook, Twitter has become nearly ubiquitous as a social networking tool for everyone from teenagers to Major corporate executives and Political figures. The quote and link sharing site that allows you to spill your random thoughts a thousand times a day to your list of followers is the perfect networking tool for mobile phones.
Shazam App (free, with premium version)
Ever had a song you like come up on the radio and wanted to know its name? The Shazam app lets you simply bring your phone close to the music, and it will immediately tell you the song’s name, artist’s name and even feed you streaming lyrics as the song plays. The premium app, called Encore, also gives you music recommendations, handing over the names of tracks similar to the stuff you already like.
Grooveshark Mobile (free with premium version)
The Grooveshark mobile app lets you play all your favorite music in streaming audio format on a continuous basis from your mobile phone. The internal search feature can help you browse through thousands of songs and artists without hassle and the app’s file organization system lets you make as many playlists as you want. Grooveshark Mobile also has built in radio stations for random music listening.
Entertainment and Fun
Angry Birds (free)
Fire your angry birds at dozens of pigs all day with the angry birds game on your mobile phone. Angry birds, the sensationally popular iPhone-based strategy puzzle game, is now also free for download to other smart phone platforms.
Tracking Your Finances
Mint Personal Finance App (free)
It seems that nothing beats the Mint.com personal finance app for simplicity, usefulness and total reliability. This little app is becoming very popular and rightfully so. Its clean, easy to use features let you track almost all the imaginable details of your financial life and organize them into interactive visual graphics and categories for easy understanding and dollar planning, all stored in one single interface.
E*trade Mobile Pro (free)
E*trade has become recognized and indispensable to investors everywhere for its online investing platforms. Now, they’ve brought this same technology to your mobile device and packed it with more features than could be easily listed here… Either way, some of the E*trade mobile app’s key tools let you track the market and all your investments, while also letting you buy or sell stocks directly from your mobile phone.
XE Currency App (free)
This neat little app from the currency trading people at XE.com is about as useful as something gets for those travelling occasions in which you want to change from one international currency to another and have no idea what the current rates are. With the XE currency App, you can track and calculate exchange rates live from nearly anywhere.
Keeping up with the News
This app from the folks at Apple gives your iPhone a sleek new Google Reader based RSS app. Take a few minutes to format the Reeder app for all your favorite news or commentary sites, and you’ll see just how fast and navigable the news feed that flows into your phone is.
An Android based news feed that arranges all the latest that’s happening in the world into an easy to navigate series of miniature image tiles, Pulse is best used for a low quantity of RSS feeds and works great for those who don’t want to deal with information overload but do have a few key sites whose feeds they’d like to keep up with.
Google Reader (free)
Google Reader has been around for a while, but only in web form. Now, however, it’s finally available as a mobile app. Google Reader is a simple, no frills or flash solution to getting the news feeds you want.
Video and Photo Fun
Recently bought by Facebook for $1 billion dollars in cash and stock, the Instagram app grew from 0 to more than 30 million users in just a couple years, and with good reason. It’s simple, has a cool feature and its completely free. Just take whatever photos you want with your phone, use Instagram’s filtering system to change the picture’s look and color, and then send it off to your friends through Facebook, twitter or another social network.
Evernote (free with premium upgrade option)
This unbeatable note taking and agenda making app is available for all your wireless devices. It lets you take photo, text and audio notes, clip pieces of web pages for later storage and do text searches within photos and images. Best of all, you can store these personal notes remotely and synchronize them across multiple devices for constant up-to-the-minute recorded organization of your thoughts, ideas and personal or business notes. A premium version is also available if you want greater upload capacity, better sharing options and improved search features.
Dropbox (Free with several premium upgrades)
The remote data storage platform Dropbox is available for several different smart phone models, and can be a lifesaver when it comes to protecting your data. The basic free version allows you up to 2 gigabytes of storage and an additional 500 megabytes per referral you make to the site. Upgrades are available for up to terabytes of storage space. The great thing about Dropbox is that it lets you store your files, documents, photos, etc for viewing and use anywhere while also letting you share them with whomever you like quickly and easily. It even has offline viewing options available with a special “favorites” folder.
Prey (Free, open source with premium version)
Prey is an ideal open source solution for protecting your phone, tablet or computer. This ingenious little app can be installed invisibly, easily and without taking up much space. After that it does nothing but wait until the moment you most need it – when your phone is stolen. That’s when it works its magic. With a simple internet or text message remote activation code, you can suddenly track your phones activity, location, hardware status and other data. Best of all, you can also remotely trigger your phone into locking up, sending messages to a thief and causing all sorts of trouble.
McAfee Mobile Security (free, with premium version)
This tough little security app is designed to protect your phone against intrusions, viruses and spyware. It also offers unlimited cloud backup storage of data and a notification feature that sends a message to a friend you choose in advance if your SIM card is replaced.
This handy little app lets you save videos and web pages that you’ve opened up for later viewing on your smart phone while offline. It’s a pretty handy and entertaining app feature for those occasions when you know you’ll soon be traveling through a connectivity dark zone for a while.
The Swackett app covers one of those situations people have been dealing with since clothes and going out were invented – how to dress for the weather. Swackett gives you up-to-date weather forecasts and, most important of all, tells you how you should dress with a cool little human body visual called a “peep”.
About the Author: when he is not writing about the best in class business TV, internet, and phone bundles, Steven Taylor is immersed in the blogosphere covering topics ranging from mobile devices to social media.