Are You Really Saving on Free Apps?

Apps

Someway, somehow, consumers have been led to believe that everything on the Internet is free. Why do you think movie and music piracy are so rampant? Such sense of entitlement extends to the buying of apps. Most consumers would rather have their apps free than paid.

Unless, that is, the apps are designed to get something done. According to app analytics company Distimo, paid apps dominate the top ten in the categories of productivity, medical, business, fitness/healthcare, navigation, catalogues, lifestyle, photo & video, travel, and weather. These apps enables you to work hard, get healthy, find directions, book flights, check weather, and so forth. They make your life easier. Consumers are won to appreciate and buy such apps.

Even so, the utility of an app is no guarantee of its being purchased. The situation is even worse for other app categories, such as games, where ‘free’ is the byword.

Free is understandable, especially if you’re really bereft of money, but paid is ideal. Here are the most compelling reasons why you should buy paid apps:

1. There’s no such thing as a free app.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch or a free app, for that matter. Sure, that nifty social network or cloud storage app comes for free but make no mistake. They will find a way to offset the gazillions they have expended on overhead, etc.

As information technology pundits would have it: “If you don’t buy the product, you are probably the product.” You only have to check out the terms of service on Facebook; they have clauses that virtually let them intrude upon privacy and mine your data, like where you shop, who you’re connected to, etc. Next time you think an app isn’t selling something, think of yourself. It is probably selling you.

2. Rage against the Machine.

Many of us don’t like to buy something because we think we are pawns of the corporations selling them. We believe that our money is not really of benefit to its end producer. With apps, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your hard-won money directly goes to the creators, which brings us to next reason.

3. Put some bread on the developer’s table.

Each sale encourages these small businesses to forge ahead with their offerings. This is not an easy thing, considering the manifold challenges the average developer has to face. For one, he or she has to meet an annual fee set by Google and Apple before submitting an app. After that, the developer is caught between a rock and a hard place: If the developer doesn’t charge customers for the app, Apple/Google will charge yearly fees anyway. If the app comes with a price, customers will be put off. And when the app eventually sells, Google/Apple gets a cut.

These are to say nothing of the expenses, especially in running the app’s website and getting hosting. These expenditures could only skyrocket with more customers, ironically what developers are after.

4. Payment = zero ads

One way developers can market an app as free, and still monetise it, is to offer advertising space. The trade-off is that customers will eventually resent the clutter.

In other words, paid apps give you the minimum incentive of being ad-free. If the paid app still comes with ads, feel free to complain or find a new one.

5. Price of a coffee

Injustice. That’s what it boils down to if you are able to afford a Starbucks but run away from a dollar or two in snapping up an app.

6. Quality is not an excuse.

Granted, there are unscrupulous developers who charge a premium for garbage. You can skirt this problem by reading reviews from top-notch websites. Besides, you can always get trials of paid apps.

Final word

An app shouldn’t really feel like an investment considering how cheap it is compared to what you’ve already been buying. Always remember that ‘free’ comes with a catch.

To ease you into the mindset of paying for apps, try buying them in bulk. This piece of wisdom is especially useful if you’re in business: The utility of many paid apps today are just too remarkable. Also, start by looking for a sale or markdown. Search for coupon codes too.

Have fun app-shopping!

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Top 5 Music Apps

Here’re the top 5 free music apps for the iPhone this November! They’re really fun, and give you awesome music while you’re out and about.

However, just keep in mind that live music is always way better. Jollys Piano Bar, your local neighborhood pub, and clubs near you also have great music. These apps are cool, but hearing the musicians live is a blast!

1. Pandora Radio

The website Pandora is famous for its ability to play song for you based on the song(s) you initially give it. It’s a super convenient way to find more songs you like, based on songs you already like.

Pandora radio is simply a mobile version of this for your iPhone. It also has ads about every 10 minutes, which is how Pandora supports itself, but it’s great at giving you songs you’ll probably enjoy.

There are also different stations you can set your phone to. For example, you can set your Pandora app to play Movie Themes (dramatic movie soundtracks from Lord of the Rings and other action movies), or holiday related themes.

2. Spotify

Spotify allows you to search a vast library of music online or on your iPhone, and play any song you find there immediately. There’s also no download time, since it plays right off the internet (like YouTube) you don’t have a tedious wait for the song to download.

Another really cool aspect of Spotify is that it’s integrated with Facebook. This way you can see what your friends are listening to and easily share songs over social media.

3. iHeartRadio

iHeartRadio is another free radio app. It has lots of custom stations that you can tune into, so you can listen to whatever genre you like. They have seasonal lists as well, like Christmas and Hanukkah lists in November and December.

4. Shazam

Shazam is an awesome little app that’s very handy. If you’re out and about and you hear a song playing that you like, just whip out Shazam and open the app. Within seconds it will identify the song, give you more information about it, and a chance to buy it.

This is really handy if you hang out in coffee shops, of you’ve got a tune stuck in your head that you want identified. Shazam works great for both situations.

It also displays the lyrics to songs it hears in real time. So if you’re listening to a song but can’t quite hear the lyrics, just open up Shazam and it’ll display the lyrics; very handy.

5. TuneIn Radio

TuneIn Radio is another app that has online radio stations, local radio, and tons of music to listen too. This is useful if you just want some tunes to listen to, or a cool radio station.

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Top 5 Health Apps for the Northwest

There are hundreds of health apps out there that do all kinds of things, from summoning emergency personnel to managing a weight loss diet.  And while it’s easy to look simply at the functionality of those apps to determine which ones work the best, what makes an app the “best” is as much a function of the culture of the user as it is a function of the quality of the app.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we love to live healthy.  The Puget Sound is one of the nation’s slow food capitals.  The ample hiking trails in our region – along beaches and through mountains – get plenty of use, rain or shine.  When we have back pain, we’re much more likely to see a Seattle chiropractor than a traditional doctor – and we’re more likely to seek therapy than pain medication.

So what are the Top 5 Health Apps for the Pacific Northwest?

1.  Carb Counting with Lenny

The Atkins Diet craze may have passed, but the health-conscious among us haven’t lost their distrust of carbohydrates – and for good reason.  The high glucose levels in many of our most common foods (such as breads and potatoes) are the leading cause of arterial inflammation, diabetes, and a host of other serious health problems.  But even healthy parents have a hard time keeping their kids’ diets in line with their own.  Counting Carbs with Lenny is an interactive, animated app designed to encourage carb-counting by young kids.  Bravo.

2.  Nike+

The downside of Nike+ is that it’s a little weird to broadcast your exercise regimen on the Internet.  But in true Nike style, the app is as much about attitude as it is about function.  The developers’ bet – which paid off in a big way – was that hooking an app that tracks running distances and times into social networks would make exercise itself social.  It did.  However weird it is to share your heartbeat and running path with the fifteen hundred strangers you call facebook friends, Nike+ has encouraged tens of thousands of would-be runners to hit the streets.

3.    Everyday Health

Most of the apps out there rely on a gimmick to attract customers, and what makes Everyday Health so special is that it avoids that trap.  The app is a simple, straightforward, and extremely helpful reference guide for general health questions, providing information on common health conditions and nutritional guidance.

4.  Sparkpeople

Sparkpeople.com is a popular health-related website, and the app provides broad functionality that will appeal to a variety of users.  At the core of the Sparkpeople experience is weight control, and in addition to fitness tracking and calorie counting, the app provides ready access to a host of exercise and nutritional information that can help a user maintain good health or improve poor health.

5.  KidsCheckup

There isn’t a parent in the world who hasn’t been up in the middle of the night wondering what could possibly be wrong with a child – and what should be done about it.  KidsCheckup provides an overall look at kids’ health, ranging from information on nutrition and exercise to medical information that can make those late nights a little less terrifying and a little more comfortable for the parent and the child.

 

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6 Fantastic Apps that Help Grow your Business

Apps

Technology today has made it so much easier for newer businesses to grow. Since there’s a rather good chance you have a smartphone, you need to know which apps you should take advantage of to help your business grow at a good rate. Listed below are a handful of apps you should consider today:

 

#1 Prosper

Are you trying to start up a business with little to no capital? If so, this is where Prosper comes into play. Prosper allows anyone to create a profile and describe what kind of loan they are looking for. After filling out a simple questionnaire, Prosper will rate you based on your credit history. From there, users on the website can offer money to your cause and make interest on their initial investment. As you can see, it’s a win-win situation since you can get a loan fast and the investors on the website can make interest on their investment.

 

#2 NetworthIQ

This is a unique app and idea that allows you to keep track of your business expenses and your personal net worth. Aside from the financial tracking, you can also compare yourself to other professionals such as Infor CEO Charles Phillips, Bill Gates and others that are in your industry. This is a great app to keep your business on the right financial track.

 

#3 SidejobTrack

If your business offers any sort of service to the public, SidejobTrack will make your life a lot easier. With this app, you can keep all of your jobs organized in one place. You can send out invoices, estimates, report your taxes and manage projects right on your phone.

 

#4 Meebo

If you’re still using any sort of instant messaging platform such as AIM, Google Talk, MSN Messenger or Yahoo!, Meebo combines these platforms into one. Since you don’t have to be at your computer to answer an instant message, Meebo allows you to be readily available as long as your app is running on the phone. No longer do you have to worry about rushing back to your computer to send an instant message.

 

#5 Remember the Milk

Trying to organize tasks can be hard without the proper tools. Remember the Milk is an easy to use task manager that allows you to set up lists, users and help you remember all of your tasks for the day, week, month or year. You can share your lists, add reminders to email and keep track of what needs to be done and what has been done in the past. The great thing about it is that it can even integrate with Google Calendar.

 

#6 Zoho

Zoho is a comprehensive app that includes just about every tool your business needs. It includes an office suite packed with word processing tools, productivity tools, polls and website monitoring. While this app is still in its infancy stages, this web-based writing program is a great way to share your documents all in one place.

With so many shops closing on an annual basis, you definitely don’t want to become one of them. By using these apps alone, you can save time, increase productivity and even save you a lot of money.

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How to Win Big in the App Market [Infographic]

Running a business takes large quantities of hard work and dedication to succeed. Sometimes it takes more than one company or group of people to make all ideas and goals a reality. The infographic below tells the story of a business decision that landed two companies with some pretty powerful success.

It all began with Hothead games, an award winning, independent game development studio whose main focus was on games of the mobile world. Of these mobile games were some iPhone App store favorites, such as “Big Win Soccer,” a sports game that skyrocketed to success after only two days.

Then, it was time to move Hothead Games’ data layer over to new hands in order for them to focus on development and better player experience. Along came Cloudant, the world’s first globally distributed data layer as a service for loading, storing, analyzing, and distributing application data. What followed over the next sixteen weeks was a multitude of success with Big Win Hockey and Big Win Baseball. Check out the infographic below presented by Cloudant to see the full story!

 
How to Win Big in the App Market [Infographic]
© 2012 Cloudant

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Boosting Marketing & Social Media Campaigns With an iPad Display in Your Business

onspot_image

It has become quite apparent that iPads have revolutionized the consumer computing experience.  Although tablet PC’s were once a luxury item, this is no longer the case as a large percentage of the population now owns one.  From elementary schools to senior citizen communities, they’re everywhere!  However, a newer trend emerging is the use of iPads in businesses around the world.  We have seen numerous uses to date, such as iPads being used as table menus at restaurants,   as point-of-sale devices to replace traditional cash registers, and as web browsing terminals at coffee shops.

OnSpot SocialRecently, apps have been developed to allow business owners to convert their iPads into digital marketing devices.  An example is the OnSpot Social app which enables consumers to Like a business’s Facebook Page, Follow the business on Twitter, and subscribe to their email list.  By displaying an iPad with the app in a high traffic area such as a checkout counter or trade show table, businesses are able to instantly connect with consumers.   A digital sign feature also allows a business to promote new products and specials, eliminating the need to design and print our flyers and posters.

Polldaddy AppSurvey apps such as Polldaddy are also gaining in popularity.  Utilizing one of these provides a means to collect valuable data and feedback that can be used to improve your business.  Most of these apps are simple to set up and require no ongoing maintenance.  By collecting data on consumers’ preferences beyond basic contact information, a business is really able to tailor its email and social media marketing campaigns to target different groups.

In general, iPad apps are usually less expensive than traditional computer software.  Besides the initial investment in an iPad, a business can purchase an app for a few dollars and be up and running in no time.  The flexibility of the iPad as well as the low cost of apps makes the concept of using an iPad at a business feasible for most.  What are your thoughts on businesses using the iPad as a customer engagement tool?  Is it an emerging trend that will be here to stay or a passing fad?

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Instagram and Last Wish Help Build Unprecedented Relationships in College

Today’s college-age young people are connected in ways that previous generations could only dream of. Cellphones and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have made it so that anyone, day or night, can easily find a study partner, share answers from last night’s physics homework or see what crazy antics are happening at the party you couldn’t attend. From Ivy League schools to the nation’s top rated online universities, Instagram and Last Wish help build unprecedented relationships between students and professors alike.

Since its launch in October 2010, more than 50 million users have taken advantage of Instagram’s snappy services, collectively taking and uploading onto Facebook about 60 photos a second. Among college students, photo-taking is the third most common usage of their cellphones behind texting and email, which helps explain Instagram’s almost instantaneous success.

But how can college students use the app for reasons other than documenting a wild frat party? For one, Instagram might be used to locate fellow students on campus or in your area with similar interests. An innocent picture of your black Fender Stratocaster might lead to inquires from a singer needing a guitarist, and before you know it, you’re playing late-night gigs at the university center. More important, though, Instagram can be used to tell your personal story, to show your followers how you see your college experience.

Professors, too, can use Instagram’s services to build relationships with students. Sharing candid “behind the scenes” photos can help show a side of your personality that doesn’t get a lot of screentime during lectures and instruction. Hosting photo-taking contests might be a fun way to involve and connect with the young people in your class. “Instagram,” says marketing professor Ann Handley, essentially trains you to look for content and stories almost everywhere.” Especially where it’s least expected.

A popular feature of the app are its filters, which allow users to turn any humdrum photo into an artful masterpiece. Some of the filters mimic the look of old toy cameras like the Instamatic, Polaroid and Kodak Brownie. This brings an added level of interest and sophistication to an otherwise lackluster picture of, say, your study group pulling an all-nighter in the common room. Shaina Rubenstein, who will begin her freshman year at the University of Texas this fall, says of Instagram, “As students, we are suddenly able to create instant artwork as well as visual memories using nothing more than our cellphones, something that was not always available in previous years, and certainly not in generations before.” Says Handley, “Instagram is one of the best platforms I’ve seen that puts magic wands into the hands of us Muggles. It gives any one of us the tools necessary to create great stuff—-even if you aren’t much of a photographer.”

Another social networking site that has the potential to build relationships among college students and professors is My Last Wish, designed to help the dying seek others in similar situations so they can work with one another to achieve common dreams and ambitions. Users post their last wishes on a “Wish Wall” for followers to see. Kirtan Thaker, co-founder of White Lotus, who created My Last Wish, explains the app’s inception: “I was confident that if we create [this] app… people will love this concept and they will get a chance to make friends who are unknown but having just one thing in common which is the last wish.”

Although My Last Wish isn’t as cheerful as Instagram, it’s nonetheless much valued. Students and professors afflicted with a terminal illness can find companionship and understanding on such a platform more easily than they could before.

My Last Wish is available for free on Apple’s App Store.

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Mint-App

MBA Mindset: 8 Simple Online Finance Tools That Save You Time and Money

In a society increasingly dominated by economics and financial status, it would appear that an MBA has an advantage in this life. They understand money, and even if they completed an online MBA program instead of going to Harvard, they are poised to rake it in. However, thanks to technology, everyone can bolster their finance knowledge.

Numerous studies have come out in recent years detailing the billions of dollars in lost productivity attributed to time wasted by employees on the internet. And with consumer debt hovering dangerously in the mid-$11 trillions (CNN Money), the United States needs all the help it can get. However, in today’s fast-paced economy, a large number of innovative new tools are available online that increase efficiency and focus, helping save both time and money.

One of the top online websites for managing personal finance is Mint.com. Mint.com is a safe and secure financial site that links with all personal finance accounts (checking and savings, mortgage and loan, etc.) to help keep track of an entire portfolio in one site.

Mint.com is affiliated with another online money-saving site, TurboTax. TurboTax is great for young professionals newly acquainted with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The site guides users step-by-step in filling out personal financial information. TurboTax can be used in sync with Mint.com to input data and make time- and money-saving suggestions. The site also saves information from year to year, helping simplify the tax process.

Other popular personal finance sites include Adaptu, Simplifi, and Voyant. Adaptu operates under a similar structure as Mint.com. Simplifi is a North Carolina-based institution that stresses a more personal online banking connection with middle-income clients. Voyant helps consumers and professionals design financial plans with a specific focus on helping plan for unexpected costs such as medical emergencies or natural disasters. Financial planning of this kind is especially helpful in today’s economy, when sudden job loss or pay cuts can take a huge toll on financially unprepared individuals.

The internet is full of tools to help simplify other forms of transation once a basic account is established. Whether it’s taxes, online payments, or tracking investments, there is an tool for every type of online money management.

Paypal is one of the oldest and most-trusted forms of exchanging money on the web. Paypal enables users to create free accounts to securely send and accept payments from other individuals and businesses online. The company works with Ebay, Amazon, and other large online retailers to make transactions safe and simple.

E*trade and Google Finance offer two different options for managing and tracking stocks and other forms of investment. Google Finance is a relatively new option that enables users to track up-to-the-minute stock and market fluctuations. E*trade is an established online trading company with a diverse suite of products. Users can trade stocks, save for retirement, and manage other accounts through this trusted site.

Given the wide range of financial products available online, it is easier than ever for individuals to invest in simplifying and securing their financial lives, saving money and time in the short term and over the course of their lives.

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Psychology-App

Psychology Behind Classroom Shyness: There’s an App for That!

It might be a genetic trait or caused by the environment in which we were raised. From understanding human behavior, we have found it could also be the result from personal experiences in our lives, even a traumatic one. It might just be part of our personality, and maybe we just lack the confidence or enthusiasm that others possess.

Whatever the reason, we’ve all experienced shyness at some point in our lives, and many people struggle with it as part of their everyday existence. Shyness can be described as feeling awkward or apprehensive when approaching or being approached by other people. Shy people often desperately want to interact with others around them, but they don’t know how or if they can tolerate the anxiety that comes along with it.

How shy are you? According to Psychology Today, 40-to-50% of Americans are somewhat shy, but the trait can become more symptomatic at certain stages of development than at others. For many college students who are meeting new people, facing new challenges and situations, shyness can become overwhelming and even harmful to the learning process.

Shyness can inhibit students from raising their hands, asking questions, and seeking help from the professor. These students often feel that they will be judged on their questions or on their answers, and they don’t want to appear silly or stupid. Students don’t want to waste their peers’ time with questions they think are not relevant or important to anyone else. Consequently, they settle for keeping quiet, and if they don’t understand the lecture, they are the ones who suffer the consequences.

Nevertheless, there could be good news out there for students who don’t like to participate in class. Liam Kaufman, psychologist from the University of Toronto, has developed a website called Understoodit.com where students can press a red “Confused” button when they don’t comprehend the lecture. The professor immediately receives a “Confusometer” message on his or her laptop that indicates what percentage of the students are “stumped.” The professor explains the lesson again, and if students catch on the second time around, they click on the green “Understood” button on the app. When the “Understandometer” lights up on the professor’s laptop, everyone understands the lecture. All users are anonymous.

What’s the other good news about the app? It could also help students who don’t speak English as their first language, plus it works through a browser right on students’ cell phones, laptops, or tablets.

However, many critics are wondering if this app will solve the problem. Will it truly help students struggling with class participation or could it be just another way for professors and shy students to avoid human contact? Some say it’s just too easy, calling it spoon-feeding or coddling students who don’t want to make the extra effort to get the help they need, not only with their school work and class participation, but also for their shyness.

Still, many professors support the application, citing examples of students they could have helped sooner if they had known there was a problem understanding the lecture. Paul Gries, University of Toronto science computer professor, already tried the application with students, and he’s ready to use it next year. “I spend a ton of time asking students to ask stupid questions to make sure they understand — I even have a Stupid Question period once a month — but we’re often three-quarters through the term before some will admit they’re lost,” noted Gries. “I wish they had told me on Day One, but this app may help them do that.”

Right now many students are missing out on many opportunities to get a good education and prepare for their future all because of their shyness. Many supporters believe that if this app can lure them out of their shells long enough to ask questions and participate in class, however slightly, then professors should get on board and give it a try.

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