Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My 9 Favorite Free Apps Right Now

A Bubble Mania screen.  I feel so sad when the Mother Cat cries because I couldn't save her kittens!

If you've got a smartphone, chances are that you spend a good amount of time on it. I heard Dr. Oz on the radio this morning saying that most of us are within 5 feet of our phones at all times. There are a few apps that I'm having quite a bit of fun with these days and I just want to share them with you. All are free, require a minimal amount of permissions, and since I have an Android phone, they're available in Google's Play Store. (Note: for more information on why permissions are critical when you're downloading an app, visit this article I wrote for the website savvygeekmom.com: http://savvygeekmom.com/2013/12/is-installing-that-app-compromising-your-privacy.)

Anyway, here they are:

  • Bubble Mania – I love the apps made by King.com (Candy Crush, Farm Heros Saga, etc.), but they invariably crash on my phone. This app is similar in the sense that you can buy power ups and have to wait a set amount of time for new tokens to play the game, but so far it hasn't crashed on my Samsung Confuse. To play, you have to pop three bubbles of the same color to save the Momma Cat's kittens. Obviously, the levels get more and more difficult, but I'm finding that if you play a certain level often enough (meaning I haven't been able to figure it out), eventually, I can break through. I think that's because the programmers know that if it's too hard, you're going to delete it. Bubble Mania is made by Team Lava, a firm I'll look out for when I invariably get tired of this game.
  • The icon for News Hog
    News Hog – This is where I get my news. Their menu of “sections” is broad an includes top news, science, health, etc. I can get my favorite Lifehacker updates on here as well. News Hog is updated often, even on the weekends, which I especially like.
  • Gym Pal – I recently wrote about my daughter's passion for gymnastics and the fact that she's started competing. Since our family is focusing on her competing against herself, rather than others, Gym Pal provides a handy way to keep a record of her scores. I can enter the day of her meet and her numbers in various events. It then tabulates her final score. It's a nice way to chart your young gymnast's progress.
  • Most Popular Ringtone – There aren't many ringtones in this package, but I like many that they offer which include two “romantic love” songs, a few Christmas songs (that I'll probably use in the summer just for the irony), and some “beautiful music” tunes. I'll probably, at some point,use most of them...except for the Exorcist tone. That's just creepy.
  • Kaleidoscope Magic Draw – I just reviewed this app for savvygeekmom.com, so I won't go into it in depth, but for mindless fun, give it a try. It makes even the most inept person an artist.
  • Pressed For Words – I am a word game-aholic and this one is really good. You have to spell as many 3, 4, 5, and 6-letter words as you can before the timer runs out. I love it when a game shows you the words you didn't get, as this one does, so I can try to learn from my mistakes.
  • Word Weasel – Match your word-finding wits against others in this take on the game, Boggle. I love the ranking feature that shows you where you are against other players. My best rankings come at odd hours when no one else is playing. Yeah!
  • The icon for Twilight
    Sketch Guru – This really nice sketching app, by the same people that brought us Kaleidoscope Magic Draw, allows you to either make your own drawings or you can grab one of your own photos from your phone's gallery and draw on it. I've taken photos of my kids and created pencil drawings from them that look as if I'd paid for a portrait. An easy app that is quite enjoyable.
  • Twilight – There's a boatload of research that suggests that exposure to blue light from phones, tablets, etc., before sleep disrupts the body's natural, or circadian, rhythm. This makes it harder to fall asleep. Twilight makes your device screen adapt to the time of day by filtering the blue spectrum and protecting your eyes with a softer red filter. Since I installed it, I have been sleeping better...until the hot flashes wake me up. 

Got any apps you'd like to share? Comment below. And check back in with me in a day or two for some easy Chinese New Year recipes in honor of the Year Of The Horse which starts on January 31st.

Thanks for reading!

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