Live @ 7 tech: Make the most of your apps

Live @ 7 tech: Make the most of your apps

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by KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on December 26, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 27 at 4:52 PM

With tablets and smartphones topping the list of gifted items this holiday, many of us are seeking out the "must have" apps to load on these new devices. (We'll assume you've already downloaded KGW's News, traffic and weather apps!)

Here are a few to check out, as selected by Live @ 7's Tech Expert, Brian M. Westbrook:

Utility RedLaser scans barcodes and QR codes that you see in magazines and on store shelves.

Get "more information" by scanning the displayed bar code. You can also answer surveys and respond to special offers by using your phone's camera as a reader.

Free: KGW Apps for all your mobile needs

Fine My iPhone DO THIS NOW! Find my iPhone (or iPad) will register your iDevices location and help you track it if you misplace or it is stolen.

All too many iPhone users have misplaced their phones and wish they'd configured Find My iPhone with their mobile device.

My recommendation? Do this now. You're welcome. ;) Time-wasters. True, your new tablet is just as much about productivity as it is a great way to waste away a ton of time... no better app exists for filling time than Words with Friends. Play the Scrabble-like game with friends or make new ones to compete against. You'll soon realize that your free time has been eaten away by this great game for wordsmiths.

Reading, I recommend the Amazon Kindle e-reader available for nearly every platform. Take advantage of the books you already purchased through Amazon.com's online book store and read them regardless of what device you have.

And if you own a Kindle, it will remember where you left off so you can pick up on the same page using your phone or computer.

Sure there are other e-reader apps on both Android and Apple platforms, but I keep coming back to this one. Travel. I fly Alaska Airlines-- their mobile development team has done a great job at making all the services of the airline available online. This custom app allows you to check-in, buy tickets, check flight times and gate information right from the App. Gone are the days of paper boarding passes, your phone displays a bar code agents read with a special scanner to allow you past security and onto your plane.

Recently they've made available the ability to check the First Class upgrade list via. your smartphone-- no more lurking over an agent's shoulder to see if you're flying up front.

As convenient as having your airline, hotel, or rental car's app on your phone is for normal travel-- you'll especially appreciate the information at your fingertips during weather delays, cancellations or that last minute change in plans. Social Media. Facebook, Foursquare, Google Plus & Twitter-- all begging for mobile apps.

Some work great with your new smartphone, others are better for the tablet experience. Either way you'll want to download these essential tools to keep up with your friends & family.

Don't use Facebook or Twitter? Now that you have a new tablet or smartphone-- what better time to join the conversation! (You'll thank me later, I'm sure.) Apps that work with other technology you already have.

Not a specific app, per se, but you may find that you already own app-enabled appliances in your home.

From home automation (lighting controllers, garage door openers, security systems, climate control) to home entertainment (your receiver, television, DVD player), plenty of these devices have companion apps to manage or enhance your experience. For example, one evening when I was feeling especially lazy and didn't want to get up to retrieve the remote control from across the room, I checked-- there enough, there's an App for my Pioneer receiver. Now I can control the volume over WiFi with my smartphone.

Shopping, banking, & utility apps. Just like your home electronics may already have an app, you'll definitely want to download the appropriate apps for your banking, shopping, and utility payments. I now pay my credit card and cell phone bill with the respective apps.

Many of these apps are custom-built for the mobile experience-- my bank, and many others, offers the ability to deposit a check using your mobile phone or tablet. Take photos of both sides of the check and click "deposit", you're set! While many apps listed above are free, some do have a price-- usually a few bucks.

When you're starting out with your new tablet, you'll likely stick with apps that are free as you become familiar with the device and how you use it most. Don't be afraid to spend money on a well-written app you'll use often. Your device is only as good as the apps you have available... load up, try 'em out and ask your friends which apps they use often.

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