Ahead of the Curve: Easier. Better. More Fun.

A look at some cool apps to brighten your days

BY September 30, 2015


Today, there are apps for everything—even apps to help you find other apps. And with the myriad selections now available, it can be quite a challenge to find engaging, stable ones for a mobile device. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you and found some that are cool, fun and potentially addictive. 



Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a concierge at your disposal to organize services for you? The free luxury services app Relax and Order is exactly that—a virtual concierge that coordinates in-home services. The easy-to-use interface allows users to select, schedule and pay for vendor services. Example vendors include chefs, bartenders, landscapers, computer technicians and massage therapists. You can plan a whole party from caterers to entertainment in a matter of minutes. The friendly Relax and Order team has carefully vetted all the local vendors. The team also follows up with customers and vendors to ensure consistent quality. The brainchild of Naples local James E. Ayres, Relax and Order recently launched on the Apple App Store in 2015. Best of all, there are no membership fees or hidden charges.



If you like to shop till you drop, ShopSavvy is the app for you. Once you drop, you can continue to shop, in a reclined position with the app on your mobile device. ShopSavvy allows you to compare products, and locate online and local stores providing those products. You can scan an item’s barcode, ensuring that results are completely accurate. Additionally, ShopSavvy compares prices, displays user reviews and searches for deals on the scanned items—all for free.



If you are interested in original artwork, then you should check out Vango, a virtual store of contemporary artists. The artists post their work to the app and users can browse by multiple filters such as price, color and size. If you are looking for artists in the Southwest Florida area, you simply add the “local” selection and the app determines your location and displays results from local artists. The app can even recommend additional artists based on your previous selections. It further distinguishes itself with its visualization feature, which allows you to use the phone’s camera to visualize what the art would look like on the wall with your existing décor. Even if you’re not in the market for original art, the free Vango app is worth the download just to peruse the inventory of artists.  



TripAdvisor is by far the most used and most reliable travel app. The user-friendly interface lets you book flights, hotels and activities, essentially all aspects of travel, directly from your mobile device. Its popularity is mostly due to travelers’ honest reviews of their aforementioned flights, hotels and activities. Who doesn’t want to rant or rave about their most recent vacation? Travelers are not compensated to write reviews, so the photos and opinions are generally accurate. TripAdvisor also carries weight with hotel and restaurant owners, as a few bad reviews can significantly impact business. There are more than 225 million reviews—apparently people like to share their opinions as much as they like to travel. 



Shazam is one of those apps you don’t think you need until you try it. It uses the mobile device’s built-in microphone to record a sample of the music or TV audio being played, then compares the sample against a central database for a match. In seconds, Shazam returns the artist’s name, song title, lyrics—essentially everything you want to know about a song (or TV show). More than 100 million active users are hooked.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of functionality; this app is feature-rich. You can launch all sorts of video and music apps, such as iTunes or Pandora, to listen, watch or purchase the selection. And the company recently released new functionality that supports image identification using the camera feature on any device. The app is free, and for a fee you can eliminate advertisements.



It has been scientifically proven that if you keep a journal of all you eat, you will lose weight. MyFitnessPal is a great free app that allows users to track their food intake.  Yes, you can also use a piece of paper to do the same thing. There is one key difference: MyFitnessPal recognizes millions of food items, counts calories and calculates your daily caloric intake. It’s simple to use; the hard part, as with any fitness tool, is sticking with it. 



Hushed is a new app with a questionable, if not nefarious, purpose. Hushed allows you to anonymously make and receive phone calls. For a reasonable fee, the app provides a second or even third number for your existing mobile phone. You can select a number in any area code you choose, making your phone number totally anonymous. The person receiving the call will only see the new number on caller ID. There are some valid reasons you might create an anonymous number. For example, it’s a great way to separate work calls from personal calls or avoid telemarketers since the number is not associated with a name. The app is very easy to use and mostly reliable.



Carrot claims to be the organization app with a personality. On first launch, the app says, “Greetings, lazy human. Persist in sloth and I will be upset.” Users enter tasks and time alerts. The Carrot app rewards the user when tasks have been completed or deadlines have been met. For example, if washing the car is a task, when it is completed you may win points, rise to the next level or even earn a badge. This app thrives and survives on the premise that people will work toward an intangible reward, even if it is a Carrot app badge. Carrot operates on all mobile devices and costs $2.99.



If you want to be ahead of the game, then Twitch is the app for you. Purchased by Amazon for $970 million, it’s the future of gaming and TV.  The app primarily focuses on video gaming, including play-throughs of video games by users, broadcasts of e-sports competitions and other gaming-related events. Content on the site can be viewed either live or on-demand. Twitch is home to the most dedicated and highly skilled gamers with games like Minecraft, Call of Duty and Destructoid. With  more than 100 million users, Twitch is the vanguard of entertainment.



If you lost your tee time due to rain or, worse yet, injury, the Tiger Woods PGA TOUR app is a good substitute. One of the most popular golf-game apps, it is every bit as fun or frustrating as the real game. But the visuals, with 3-D enhancement, make this game unique. You can replay a swing and watch the ball from multiple angles. The app does require some skill to achieve a good score, but unfortunately, your abilities in the app have no bearing on your abilities on the actual course.


100: The billions of cumulative Apple App Store downloads from July 2008 to June 2015, according to Statista

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