We’ve updated our list of the 25 must-have apps. They’ll make you smarter, save you money and save you time. Start the downloads! And we also note which ones will work on your iPad.
1. On this day… (Free, iPad compatible)
Great for fact geeks who need something to break the ice at the next business meeting or bus stop drop-off. Never be left without at least one bit of completely useless trivia!
2. Ace Flashcards ($2.99 iPad compatible)
With this app, you (or your kids) can create and edit flashcards on your phone, iPad or even on your Mac. Shake to shuffle, quiz yourself and even save your “I know it” cards to a separate pile. The app can create definitions for you, saving you time. What’s to like: We’re saving a few trees’ worth of 3×5 cards in the process!
3. My Very First App ($1.99 iPad compatible)
Another great app to help keep the kids entertained educationally, this app uses Eric Carle illustrations for three different matching games—certainly enough time for you to keep your little one entertained at the grocery store.
4. NPR News (Free, iPad compatible)
If you’re an NPR geek, you probably already have this app—that’s OK, we’re trying to convert the masses! Get straightforward local and national news coverage, and the ability to listen to Car Talk and Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me, wherever you are.
5. iReward ($4.99, iPad compatible)
If you’re a parent with young kids and can’t track your child’s “chores chart,” then download the app that’ll make that carrot-and-stick routine much more portable. Jimmy wants a new bike? Track his progress with chores and other goal-earning responsibilities. It’s received a number of great reviews and is password-protected, which’ll keep the kids from fudging their stats.
6. First Then Visual Schedule ($9.99, iPad compatible)
If you have a child with special communication needs, this app is a great tool to engage them in the day-to-day routine and calm them when life gets a bit chaotic. Using visual cues, kids and even adults can grasp a routine for the day—great for people that always need to know “what’s next.”
7. Tag Reader (Free, iPad compatible)
I was a little uneasy with downloading a Microsoft-developed app onto my Apple product, but I have to say, of the tag readers I tried, this app is the best. Don’t know what a “tag” is? It’s a funky-looking graphic—reminiscent of Space Invaders—that when “tagged” by a smartphone will stream data directly to you. For instance, a newspaper Thanksgiving article included three tags that featured videos on how to prepare, cook and carve a turkey. What’s to like: In the future, more companies will use tags to provide information at your fingertips.
8. iCam ($4.99, iPad compatible)
For the advanced techie, use this app to plug into to your webcam, security camera, etc. and stream those feeds to your phone or iPad. What’s to like: Now you can find out who’s chewing on your shoes—the dog or the cat.
9. Tango Video Calls (Free, iPhone 3Gs or 4 only)
Thanks to Tango, iPhone users can leave a WiFi hotspot and still make a video call—this app uses both WiFi and the 3G network, allowing for free Facetime calls anywhere. Of course, now you’ve got to look pretty, so …
10. Get The Look – Stila (Free, iPad compatible)
With this app, you can play around with different eye shadow colors on a model with your similar coloring and see a look before you commit to it. What’s to like: No more wondering who stuck their finger in a tester before you.
11. Couch to 5k ($2.99, iPad compatible)
Maybe the notion of running a 5K has always seemed daunting and even out of reach, but with this app, you’ll be out the door before you know it. Your commitment and 9 weeks will have you finish a 5K without stopping to walk. What’s to like: it’s compatible with the Nike+ and your iPod’s playlists.
12. NikeWomen Training Club (Free, iPad compatible)
Need something a little more hard core? With this app, you can choose specific workouts to tone or define, or for cardio. Track your progess while you’re at it, and even watch video demonstrations of specific exercises.
13. iSleep Sphere ($1.99, iPad compatible)
Everyone needs their beauty sleep, and this app may help if you crave white noise, or need to block out the less-than-welcome sounds of snoring from your partner.
14. Netflix (Free app download, iPad compatible)
If you have a Netflix account, then you have to have this app—now you can stream content directly to your phone or iPad. What’s to like: It’s instant entertainment. Just be mindful of your data plan.
15. Steppenwolf (Free, iPad compatible)
Download this—it comes with instant cool. Even if you never go to Steppenwolf, you score culture points just for having the app on your phone. And if you do use it, you’ll find you can buy tickets, get restaurant and parking recommendations and learn more about the ensemble through videos and podcasts.
16. Sketch Club ($1.99, iPad compatible)
Doodling fans—check out this app, which lets you embrace those bursts of creativity wherever you are. Save your drawings, upload to Facebook and sketchclub.com and even enter crazy competitions.
17. ShopKick (Free, iPad compatible)
More retailers are getting in on the app craze, allowing smartphone users to earn bonus points and rewards when you “check in” at their store—this is one of those, with which you can rack up points for locations you visit and earn gift cards. It’s a nice way to make shopping pay!
18. RedLaser (Free, iPhone only)
Comparison shopping is even easier when you can simply tag a barcode and get instant updates on a particular item’s cost and where the most inexpensive place to buy it is. What’s to like: No more wondering if a DVD is cheaper at Best Buy while you’re standing in Target. Just scan the code and find out!
19. FastMall (Free, iPad compatible)
It’s been awhile since you’ve been to Woodfield? Hitting a local mall on a business trip? Use this app to find your way around without having to find the mall directory and never find yourself without a bathroom ever again.
20. Groupon (Free, iPad compatible)
No more printing your Groupon deals—thanks to this app, you can access them on the road from your phone—and have access to Groupon deals in other cities if you are traveling.
21. Amazon Mobile (Free, iPad compatible)
It’s a one-touch stop for deals of the day and mobile Amazon.com access when you can’t get to your computer or laptop and are experiencing online shopping withdrawal.
22. Foodspotting (Free, iPad compatible)
More about sharing food love and less about criticism, this app is a great way to find out where everyone else thinks the best local burger is. Join and you to can snap pictures, upload them to the app and share your fave foodie experiences too!
23. Cook This, Not That! ($7.99, iPad compatible)
A spin-off of the popular book series, this app gives detailed alternatives to some of your restaurant favorites, with easy-to-follow recipes. What’s to like: The grocery list feature that makes your shopping easier.
24. Real Simple Recipes: No Time to Cook? ($4.99, iPad compatible)
With more than 850 recipes (videos, too!) to choose from, every mom’s “witches’ hour” just got easier—easy dinners to make while wrangling kids at the same time. What’s to like: The app asks you what you’d like to make (beef, poultry, vegetarian, etc.) and how much time you’ve got and can choose a recipe to suit the situation—it’s a no-brainer.
25. Fooducate (Free, iPad compatible)
This nifty little app had me plowing through my pantry looking for barcodes to scan in order to learn a food item’s letter grade. What’s to like: The app tells you why a food ranks high or low, and offers alternatives.