Like most people, my usage of technology has evolved and changed radically since I started ComputerMom in 1996. One of biggest changes has been the emergence of smartphones and tablets as internet devices. In order to keep up with the times I have added an Android phone and an Ipad to my daily use devices and want to share with you some of my favorite free or inexpensive apps.
Car Home Ultra – Android only - $.99
We all know it’s dangerous to use your phone while driving, but sometimes there are few options. I highly recommend buying a car mounting system for your phone which eliminates fumbling for the phone if it rings. Both Apple and Android have built in car dock software to use with a docking station but I don’t find that they have enough functionality. My solution to this issue has been to buy Car Home Ultra for my phone. This 99 cent app creates a very simplified, customizable home page for my phone with an easily visible display and big function buttons. As my car doesn’t have Bluetooth, Car Home Ultra will automatically turn on my speakerphone during calls. I can assign phone numbers to buttons so it’s a one button process to make the calls I make most frequently, such as to home, family members, or to voice mail. Additionally it gives me one button access to my navigation app and to Google Maps, along with multiple customizable buttons.
FoxFi – Android only – free
I have pointed out in the past the dangers of using public WiFi hotpots. FoxFi is a free program that will turn your Android phone into your own personal hotspot without having to pay additional tethering charges to your cell phone service provider. It is simple to use and works great – I used it all over Italy on a recent trip, and find it’s a great way to get internet to my netbook or Ipad when there are no wireless networks available.
Not available for Iphone, and unfortunately both Sprint and AT&T won’t allow you to download the app from the Google Play store. However, FoxFi is available directly from the manufacturer. Also I have seen some reports that AT&T will charge you for tethering if it finds out you are using FoxFi, so if you are an AT&T client remember you use it at your risk.
Redfin – Android, Iphone and Ipad - free
My husband and I love to “window shop” towns and neighborhoods when we go into Boston or visit other towns. Redfin, a real estate brokerage firm, provides a great free real estate app that lets us see all the houses that are for sale in the immediate vicinity, complete with pictures, open houses, and tons of other listing information. Whenever we find ourselves in a cute town or neighborhood we pop open the Redfin app and start fantasizing about our new home!
Soundhound – Android, Iphone and Ipad – free and paid versions available
Did you ever hear a song on the radio and go nuts trying to remember the name of the artist or what the song is called? Soundhound is the perfect app for you! Switch it on, press the “listen” button, and it will search its database and let you know the name of the song, the artist’s name, even the album it was released on and the lyrics if you want them!
Tune-in Radio – PC, Android, Iphone, Ipad – free
I took a trip to Oregon with a Patriot’s fan and we realized that he was going to miss his game on Sunday. Tune-in Radio to the rescue! This free and indispensable app lets you use your internet connection on a PC, tablet, or phone, to live stream the feed from any radio station in the country. Problem solved, we listened to the Patriot’s game live while driving up the Columbia River Gorge!
Julie Marto, the ComputerMom, has been providing friendly and personal computer support and training in Medfield and neighboring communities for over 16 years. For more information visit http://www.thecomputermom.com/