Guide to essential apps
Mobile phones are no longer just for making calls. Smart phones have become an essential part of everyday life. Now you can take photos, record videos and play games on one device.
For those just entering the world of apps, here is a quick guide to the essential apps that every phone should have.
Game (Free lite version or $0.99 for the full game)
Unless you’re completely mobile phone ignorant, chances are you’ve heard of Angry Birds. In this game you slingshot birds to knock down pigs. It’s not that simple, though. It might take anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 days to finish one level. Each level increases the difficulty. There are different types of birds that do different things when you throw them: the blue bird that splits into three birds, the yellow bird that dives straight when tapped, the white bird that lays an egg bomb, the black bird that explodes when tapped, the green boomerang bird...
The full Angry Birds game comes with hundreds of levels. When you update the app, they sometimes throw in new levels for free. There’s also a free version that features the first 15 levels. Angry Birds is by far the most well known app to hit the mobile phone market, but be warned: steer clear if you tend to get angry fast.
Social Networking (Free)
Facebook is a monster of a social network. This mobile app lets you keep up to date with what’s new in the Facebook world, giving you the power of status updates, comments, likes, check-ins and uploading through your mobile. The instant notifications help you see the notification as it’s happening. A quick swipe of your finger from the home screen and you’re taken straight into Facebook.
This is a free app that some people prefer over browsing on the Internet. The layout is a little different to its web counterpart, but scrolling with your finger rather than a mouse or trackpad is always more pleasing because it’s fast and responsive.
A must-have for Facebook addicts worldwide.
Instagram makes photography fun. Firstly you set up a profile. Then you can share your photos and follow other people’s Instagram profiles as well. What’s great about this app is that it lets you put pre-made filters onto your photos. After you snap a snazzy photo, you can apply an Instagram effect to give it some zing. You also can blur a part of your photo as well.
This is a free app that’s sure to bring out the photographer in you. Once you're finished with the photo it saves it on your timeline. Your Instagram followers can now see, like and comment on it. You can also auto upload the photo to Facebook or Twitter. A truly interactive app.
Words with Friends
Game (Free with ads, or $2.99 ad-free)
The game of Scrabble has never been so fun. Words with Friends pits you against a friend or a random person from across the globe. What's nice about WwF and different from the board game is that it automatically adds your word score. It’ll also tell you when a word is not playable and when one is. Tapping the shuffle button mixes your letters around, and you can talk to your opponent through a text chat in the actual game.
Words with Friends is free if you don’t mind ads appearing after each turn. You don’t have to buy it, as the free version is the full app. There's a bit of a learning curve if you’re a newbie but it’s definitely worth the play.
This handy app helps Victorian travellers get their train times with a swipe of their fingers. If you’re always late for the train, you’ll love this app. It’s the official train app that calculates how many minutes until your next train. It’s very useful when planning a trip. You can see when the train comes and when it stops at each station. Not only is it for trains, it also calculates times for trams, buses, NightRider and V-Line as well.
Metlink is an all-around joy to use that’s completely free and accurate. You can bookmark your favourite stations, see when the next five trains coming your way are due, and find out which trains have been cancelled. Using this app ensures no more last-minute sprints to the train.
Some essential app advice
Finally, a little advice. When you're buying apps there are a few things to look out for:
- Games that have "lite" on their title mean they’re a sample only - you have to pay to get the full game
- Always read the reviews and star ratings before downloading any app - apps can be very deceiving from their screenshots.
- The app store has a genius function that recommends apps based on what you have previously downloaded.
- There’s no harm in downloading free apps, but when they're not free, make sure you do your research.
The world of apps is a big one waiting for you to explore it, so don't be shy, but do be careful and research before you buy. Happy apping!
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