There are now some 250,000 mobile applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and over 70,000 for Android. How on earth do you find ones that are actually worth using? You could use a recommendation engine or website, an app that recommends apps or ask a friend.
But every now and then, we like to round up a few of our favorites and share them with you. This latest edition of our favorite mobile apps includes some newer ones for you to try along with us, as well as some which have received notable updates. This month, we’re focusing on apps that make your life easier.
LucyPhone: LucyPhone is free service designed to wait on hold for customer service and then call you back when the rep finally picks up. The iPhone app offers the same functionality as the Web service, allowing mobile users to search a company database or enter a toll-free number and monitor how long they’ve been on hold. Download from iTunes here.
ScanBizCards & CardMunch: ScanBizCards digitizes business cards using the iPhone’s camera. The app can recognize the text on the card, including the person’s name, email address and phone number. It then imports it directly into your contacts. When the contact is saved, you also have the option of sending a follow-up email. The cards can be flipped through cover-flow style and are clickable, too, allowing you to tap the contact to add them to your LinkedIn connections list, for example. (For more on this another other digital business card solutions, check out this article from July).
CardMunch does much of the same, but offers a free app download where ScanBizCards is $6.99. CardMunch uses credits (e.g. 40 credits = 40 cards, price= $10.00) and ScanBizCards offers in-app purchases for Web-based backup (1 year=$9.99).
imo.im: Imo.in is a multi-protocol, Web-based IM service that supports AIM, Facebook, GTalk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, MySpace, Skype, and Yahoo. The app lets you maintain concurrent sessions, allowing you to be logged into imo.im with multiple computers, iPhone apps and Chrome extensions. The new iPhone app keeps you signed in, even when the app is closed, for up to 72 hours, while still letting you receive push notifications. It also provides a searchable interface to your chat history for when you’re on the go. Download from iTunes here.
Blancspot: Blancspot is another news reader application in the style of similar apps like Pulse and Flipboard that delivers the headlines along with visually compelling images and then allows you to share them with friends via Facebook and Twitter. The goal of the app is to boil down complex topics into easily digestible sections that maintain the essence of a story. It’s great for browsing the latest headlines on the go, but with one fatal flaw: there’s no “off” switch for the accompanying music. Download from iTunes here.
iHound: Parents will like iHound’s new “geofencing” feature in its iPhone application. The app can now send push notifications when kids arrive or leave school and/or other after-school activities. It also allows you to broadcast your status to others, integrates with Foursquare for check-ins and can push other types of notifications to your phone, like reviews of local restaurants when you arrive at your vacation destination or a shopping list when you arrive at the store. Download from iTunes here.
SpringPad: This Evernote competitor, already available as a Web service and iPhone app, recently arrived on the Android, allowing you to easily save info you need to remember. With SpringPad, you can save notes, tasks, lists, scan barcodes, take photos and geolocate nearby businesses. The app automatically organizes and enhances all this “saved stuff” for you and syncs it with the Web service springpadit.com, for access when you return to your computer.
ProOnGo: This expense-tracking app lets you create expense reports by taking pictures of your receipts. Although not brand-new to iPhone, the Android version of the app was recently updated with a two-way sync feature between the servers and the device. Now Android users can email receipt images to ProOnGo’s Receipt Reader, use custom categories for expenses and backup expenses when moving between devices.