Apps everyone should have on their phone

By Rachel Arlin

Eddie Hull uses his phone while students vote on whether to stay or go during a student protest on Feb. 24, 2012. (Collegian File Photo)
Eddie Hull uses his phone while students vote on whether to stay or go during a student protest on Feb. 24, 2012. (Collegian File Photo)

Let’s face it: we constantly find ourselves on our phones seeking new information, but smartphones are not just for Facebook and Twitter anymore. There are thousands of helpful apps that can prove to be life-changing.

Yelp is one of the most important apps that college students and older users can have. Yelp, which is short for Yellow Pages, helps users look up local businesses: you can check customer ratings, business hours, telephone numbers and other useful features for anything from a restaurant to a scenic tour. The app breaks each business down into specific categories such as American food or ski resorts.

Google Maps is also another must-have app. This app helps you find directions to and from a location via the shortest possible route by mileage and offers instructions for driving, walking, biking or taking public transit. It even tells you if your path has tolls and traffic. The traffic feature informs you as to how long the delay will be and offers possible detour routes. Google Maps makes it easy for people to find directions for local businesses – and users have had more success with it than the frequently derided Apple Maps.

If you don’t have any music on your phone, the Pandora app is always a good substitute. Type in an artist, genre or any other music-related search and Pandora will match it up to other relevant songs or artists to create a “station.” For example, if you create a Gwen Stefani station, it will be no surprise if a No Doubt song pops up. If you specifically request songs like “Hollaback Girl,” expect a healthy dose of Kesha and Fergie. You can “like” or “dislike” a song to increase or decrease the possibility of that song or songs like it coming up again.

You might not realize it, but one of the most frequent reasons we use Google is to look up the definitions of words. However, it would be much easier to just get the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app. All you have to do is look up the word in the search box, and if you do not know how to spell a specific word (or are just feeling lazy), you can say it with Voice Search. Furthermore, if you’re in need of a thesaurus, the app has synonyms and anonyms as well.

Shazam might be a simple app, but it also proves to be very useful. Have you ever heard a song that you just know you’ve heard before, or maybe a new song that you need to download right away? By pressing the Shazam button while that mystery song is playing, the app can identify its name, the artist and other facts about the song such as its parent album and release date. It can even uncover TV shows and movies just by listening to dialogue. The app also shows which songs are popular on the app by location, provides music news and manages a list of all of the songs you’ve discovered while using it.

IMDb Movies & TV is also a surprisingly helpful app. One can easily get lost in the number of movies, TV shows, actors and actresses that the app provides. You can even look up the rating of the TV show or movie, provided by users. If you look up an actor or actress, you can view the films they starred in, produced or directed and a biography. By looking up a movie, you can view all of the actors and actresses that starred in it, the soundtrack and even popular quotes. Each page even features a message board where you can chat with other users about the movie or show at hand. Furthermore, the app lists local show times for movies that are currently playing.

Hopefully this article encourages you to dip your feet into the world of iPhone apps. The App Store is just a click away. Your phone was made not just for entertainment but for productivity as well. Before you know it, all of your problems can be solved with some simple, essential apps.

Rachel Arlin can be reached at [email protected]