Popular apps roundup

Review posted Fri 28 Jun '13

If you're anything like the average gadget consumer, your phone is a fifth appendage. Part of the reason smartphones has become so prevalent in society is the versatility. With the vast sea of programs out there, you can pretty much get your phone to do everything but love you back.

Application design is big business in the mobile industry. From the hobbyist hoping to be the next Mark Zuckerman to big R&D guys passing around beta versions, it’s safe to say hundreds of hours go into creating apps that make life easier. In 2012, citing a report from B2B Guide to Social Media, there was more than 400,000 apps available from Android and more than 500,000 from Apple. Consider some of our favorites as you wade through this flood of apps.

Google Maps

Probably one of the most utilized applications around, Google Maps is an accurate way to find out where you are and where you're going. A report also from B2B Guide to Social Media estimates more than 50 million people have downloaded this one program. That's a large number when you consider most apps see less than a hundred downloads.

Google Maps expands what you already get (from competing programs) to offer turn-by-turn directions to almost any place in the world.


For the hypochondriac in us all, website HealthTap offers a mobile app that allows users to ask healthcare professionals questions. PCMag calls HealthTap one of the 100 best iPhone apps available. Basic use is free. You type in a question and eventually somebody important answers you.

If you want to talk to a specific doctor or need an immediate response, you pay a little fee for the extra attention. You can access a database of questions from others and use an online symptom checker, as well.


The Direct2TV app provides two key services to users. You can watch TV directly from your phone or tablet computer. You can also use the service to set your DVR remotely. No more missing a favorite show because you forget to schedule it to record when you have access to this app.

Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is more than just an alarm clock. The producer of the innovative program calls it a bio-alarm system. The best way to wake up refreshed isn't to use an alarm clock at all. Naturally waking up is the body’s way of regulating sleep. Unfortunately, most people have a schedule to keep, so this isn’t an option. Sleep Cycle offers the next best thing. It monitors your movements and wakes you up during a light sleep phase. This tricks the body into believing you woke up naturally.

Sleep Cycle promises you'll get up in the morning feeling rested. No more dragging through the day because the alarm went off when you were sound asleep.


This program helps maintain your budget by categorizing spending habits. You can see all your balances in real time, as well. The company claims to have over 10 million users and employs a 128-bit encryption system to keep your data secure. Read our full review of Mint money management.


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