Friday, April 12, 2013

Four unusual apps college students should try

They'll make you laugh, think and maybe even get work done

By Kelsey Hilmes, A&E Editor

There is more to a smartphone lifestyle than Instagram and “Temple Run 2.” With access to hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions of apps on your phone, there really isn’t anything a college student armed with a really tiny computer or really expensive phone can’t do.

If you’re feeling tired of the same old apps, here is a list to help you shake up your smartphone routine.  

CARROT
Available on the App Store
Cost: $ .99 cents

This is not your typical to-do list app. CARROT is an app with a personality all of it’s own.

Each time you check an item off of your to-do list, you win points, and as your points add up, you reach new levels. 

At each level, the app gives you a prize.

One time it — or he, I should say, since he’s practically alive — gave me a pet cat named Dog.

Another time it pranked me, but I won’t ruin the surprise. Other times, when you level up, the app gains new features.

The first time you open CARROT on your phone, he says, “greetings, lazy human.”

When you go a long time without completing your listed tasks, CARROT gets a little bit sassy.

His mood spans from pleased to annoyed to wrathful.

One time CARROT told me he hated me with the intensity of 10,000 suns.

Today when I checked off a task for the first time in 16 hours, the words “you will die penniless and alone” popped up on my screen. He’s just like all of my really good friends.

Basically, it’s all the benefits of your run-of-the-mill to-do list, combined with the motivational power of the mother you will never please. Only this time, you can turn the nagging on and off at will.

Flipboard
Available in the App Store and Google Play
Cost: FREE

This app is much more well known than the rest of the list, but it’s absolutely worthy of a mention. As a journalist, news apps are important to me.

After my email, the news is the first thing I check in the morning, typically before I even leave my bed.
Flipboard has customizable tiles that might remind you of the layout of a Windows phone.   

The tiles ‘flip’ each time they refresh with new stories, and each tile either represents a different news topic or news outlet according to your selections.

You can also link Flipboard to any number of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts that you have, so you can check all of those news feeds from the same app.    

It’s easy to share stories on each of your social networks as well.     

You can access unlimited outlets and aggregators through Flipboard, including many of the less common publications. My first page on Flipboard, for example, has BBC World, AdWeek and Flipboard’s technology aggregator.

You can add tiles for local papers as well, such as the Tacoma News Tribune.  

PicItEasy
Available on the App Store
Cost: PRO - $1.99, Lite - FREE

If you frequently struggle to snap a picture on your phone without shaking the screen, this app has a clever solution. PicItEasy is anti-shake, which means it won’t snap a photo until the phone is completely steady.  

It also has a ‘ghost hand’ feature, in which the person taking the picture merely waves their hand over the screen of their phone and the photo is captured.     

It feels a lot like using the force. The only downside to this app is that every time you wave your hand to snap a picture, you have to resist the urge to say something like “these are not the droids you’re looking for.”  

This app makes a great update to your phone's default camera. It comes with customizable timer settings, makes organizing your photos easier, and allows you to link to Dropbox.

That being said, if you don’t appreciate feeling like you have the force, you’d probably be wasting your money. 

1800Recycling
Available on the
App Store and Google Play
Cost: FREE



For all of you who aspire to maintain your sustainability habits when you can no longer drag all of your recyclables to campus to dispose of, this app is your new best friend.
    
This app is thorough enough to make our environmental students jump for joy.
    
With the speed and convenience of your favorite map app, 1800Recycling uses your location to find you a place to recycle anything, anywhere.
     
When you open the app, select which types of materials you're seeking to responsibly dispose of, from paper to car parts, bottles to hazardous materials.
   
It then uses your location, or any location of your choice, to find the closest place to dispose of your recyclables.  
   
From there 1800Recycling helps you access all of the information for the recycling drop-off, including directions.
    
Public service apps are rarely this helpful, as they are typically clunky, rarely updated and without purpose. 1800Recycling resets that standard. 

No matter what kind of college student you are, if you have a smart phone, a whole world of relevant apps is available to you.
    

In September, Apple reported having over 700,000 apps available.
    

Not to be outdone, Google Play hit 600,000 apps in June.   
    

With that in mind, it's time to put the Snapchat away for a while and try something new.