Archive for the
‘Apps’ Category

Smartphone owners use their devices for a growing number of tasks, from checking email and viewing video content, to banking and shopping, to social media.

They also spend more time using them, according to a recent Nielsen study that says time spent by people on smartphones is overtaking PC usage in the U.S., Britain and Italy.

Americans spent an average of 34 hours on their smartphones during the month of December, nearly eight hours longer than they did on their PCs.

Nielsen says Americans spent time on their smartphones mostly accessing apps for social media (28 percent of the time) entertainment (8 percent) and playing games (9 percent).

Of course, using the device for communications (12 percent) was also essential to them. And traditional phone functions are still important to smartphone owners, according to Nielsen. Text messages took up 9 percent of total smartphone time, dialing the phone took up 3 percent, and checking the address book took up 2 percent, among U.S. users of Android devices.





Major retailers are embracing the potential of mobile devices to bring in customers and drive business. Now, small businesses are focusing on mobile access to customers to boost their bottom line.

Mobile devices, particularly smartphones, are becoming the main channel for customers to interact with businesses. That means opportunities for merchants, from restaurants to car repair services to banks.

While social media like Twitter and Facebook are an effective form of social engagement for small businesses, a mobile-friendly website and payment options for smartphones and tablets can tilt long-term success in their favor.

The market is there for the taking: smartphone ownership in the U.S. is expected to more than triple by 2016.

Here are a few areas small businesses and entrepreneurs can focus on if they want to maintain, or expand, their mobile presence:

  • Make the company website accessible to mobile devices
  • Add a mobile payment option
  • Make smartphones, tablets and other mobile tools available to the sales force
  • Use virtual meeting apps like GroupMe to communicate with staff.






It’s time to get in touch with your doctor. You don’t feel well. It’s time for an annual checkup or a follow-up visit. Or maybe you just have a medical question.

Chances are you have the family physician’s phone number on a card in your wallet, the one reminding you of your next appointment.

Or you can use the app on your smartphone or tablet to contact the office.

The ability to locate a doctor, book an appointment and attend to your personal health care needs is right in the palm of your hand, as an app for Apple or Android devices. One that comes to mind is Zoc Doc, launched in 2011 for iOS and now available on Android. Zoc Doc helps you to search for a doctor by specialty, browse doctor search results like credentials, view appointment calendars in real time and book one for an available date instantly.

If you just have a medical question and can’t wait, here’s even an app that lets you connect with a physician right on your mobile device. It’s a consultation without the waiting room.

Doctor on Demand allows a patient to speak with a licensed physician on audio or video through a smartphone, iPhone or tablet. The app is useful to people with non-emergency issues who have medical questions like seeking a referral or explaining symptoms. The participating doctors are drawn from a network affiliated with independent medical practices throughout the United States.

Doctor on Demand is a free app for iOS and Android, but the fee to speak with a doctor is $40, about the cost of a copayment to see a specialist. is issuing a challenge to app developers to come up with new and creative ways to place local online orders.

The New York-based company has launched a competition deliverycom_artfor developers to come up with original mobile apps that create new ways for consumers to place local online orders. There’s $65,000 in prizes, plus a share of order revenues, for the best apps that drive new users and orders to local restaurants, wine and spirits stores and laundries, dry cleaners and tailors. has created a niche for itself with a platform where consumers can order prepared food, groceries and services from neighborhood merchants. Now it is encouraging app developers to come up with their own ideas for an ordering platform that is locally focused, and benefits the local economy.

As we said before in a recent post, online commerce is surging as overall mobile retail sales topped $60 billion last year.

ChallengePost, the competition’s administrator, is accepting submissions through June 10. Winners will be announced the week of July 16.

The company behind the children’s program Veggie Tales is making one of its most popular programs available as a mobile app.

Big Idea Entertainment produces children’s and family programming and is best known for the Veggie Tales series, a faith-based brand with millions of videos, books and CDs sold. “God Made You Special,” one of the most recognizable Veggie Tales episodes, has been launched on the PlayTales mobile app as an eBook for iOS and Android platforms.

Created for children ages 2 to 7, the story features rhyming text, original music, sound effects and narration, as well as different reading modes to choose from. It is available in both English and Spanish and features interactive elements on every page of the story.

VeggieTales adds to the PlayTales catalog of popular children’s brands and characters such as Sesame Street and Pocoyo.

So, what’s for dinner?

There’s always takeout from the Chinese restaurant or your favorite pizzeria. You’ll find the menu from the last order, make a phone call, pickup in 20 minutes and dinner is ready to be served.

Technology can help out with this task. Dinnertime planning can be as easy as tapping the app of the mobile device in the palm of your hand.

Most popular restaurants offer apps as part of their overall customer engagement strategy. You can check a menu, download a coupon, share your experience on social media. A growing number also let you place an order for pickup without waiting in line.

If you’re looking for more variety in cuisine, if you’re looking for takeout or delivery options close to home, there are apps for that as well.

Apps for sites like Seamless, Eat24 and Grubhub list hundreds of restaurants that can be filtered by location, distance, cuisine, delivery charges and estimated pickup time.

You’ll find many of them in the App Store and Google Play store.



Just a couple of shopping days left until Valentine’s Day. You didn’t forget, did you?

So, what’s the plan for your beloved? Chocolates. A dozen long-stemmed roses (at a substantial markup). Or maybe one of those big stuffed animals from the convenience store with the corny “Be Mine” stitched in its chest.

How about a virtual card? Or poetry?

There are a number of apps out there for your iPhone or Android smartphone that can help make the occasion special, even unique, for you and your significant other. Here are a few that come to mind:

Flowers, and FTD come to mind first, but there’s also The Bouqs. The online floral delivery startup launched a new app that allows customers to send flowers directly from their smartphone or tablet. The app runs on iOS and Android platforms, and provides “two click” sending of its farm-direct flowers to anyone you want.

Virtual Valentine’s card
valday2You can spend five bucks on a store card that rhymes. Or, you can download the Love Pic Booth app for Instagram and show an image of how you really feel. This camera photo app for iPhone and iPad lets you take photos, add frames, and create a romantic or poetic image for the background.

Romantic dinner

valday4Many restaurants are usually booked in advance for Valentine’s Day. Turn to iOs and Android apps like Open Table, NoWait and Zagat to Go ($9.99) to book a cozy restaurant for a romantic dinner for two.

Nothing says romance like a few spoken, or tweeted, words of verse. There’s an app for that, too. “Love Quotes!” is an iTunes app of famous, beautiful and inspirational love quotes and sayings by famous authors.

Valentine Radio is a downloadable app for iOs and Android devices. It’s easy listening mood music from a selection of 40 radio stations that you and your significant other will surely like.



Dong Nguyen has pulled an intervention on his mobile gaming fans.

The Vietnamese developer is the creator of the wildly popular Flappy Bird game, which has so far been downloaded more than flapbird150 million times on Apple and Android devices since launching as a free app less than a year ago. So popular was Flappy Bird that it was earning Nguyen an estimated $50,000 a day from ad impression revenue.

Apparently Flappy Bird was just too popular for Nguyen, who this week sent fans into a panic by announcing he would stop making the game available for download. It’s become “an addictive product,” he tells Forbes.

We can’t help but wonder what the, well, flap was about. Flappy Bird’s popularity does read like something out of a “Star Trek” episode. But it had a long way to go before catching up with Candy Crush Saga, which has been downloaded onto mobile devices a half billion times since launching in 2012.

Nguyen tells Forbes he will continue to develop games. And Flappy Bird isn’t going away anytime soon; the game is still all over the web, in various forms.





The torch is lit, the competitions are on … the Games of the XXII Winter Olympiad are under way in Sochi, Russia.

If you’re big on figure skating, freestyle skiing or simply want to keep track of what country is leading the medal count, here are a few mobile apps to stay on top of the Winter Olympics action.

sochiart1_artSochi 2014 Guide: This mobile guide to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi is produced for the organizing committee. You’ll stay up to date with the schedule of competitions and other events, and use an interactive map to navigate sports venues and much more.

NBC Olympic Highlights, NBC Sports Live Extra: As the official broadcast partner of the Winter Olympics, NBC Universal boasts saturation coverage of Sochi, and that doesn’t leave out mobile devices. The NBC Sports Live Extra app provides a live stream of the games that covers all sports and medal events. Some live streaming content will only be available to authenticated cable and satellite customers. NBC Olympic Highlights doesn’t have live feeds, but does offer images and video highlights for those seeking a brief synopsis of the results.

BBC SportBBC Sport’s app has been updated for the Sochi games. The app enables users to watch live action and highlights as well as keep up to date with other sports and news.

2014 Team USA Road to SochiThe app by the U.S. Olympic Committee presents the athletes wearing the uniforms in competition for the USA. There are in-depth athlete bios, photo galleries and video clips of your favorite athletes.

sochiart2_artSochi 2014 Results: Another app created for the Sochi organizing committee, you can get quick and easy access to the competition schedule and results and follow the medal races in real time.


We recently posted a link to a CNN Tech story from last year about apps that can help you get through the winter storms that keep raging every few days or so.

Well, the Midwest and New England are in the midst of yet another wintry event. With little relief in sight, we offer a few more apps here, available on iOs and Android and other devices, that could help people get through this cold mess:

WeatherBug_artWeatherBug (left)boasts slide navigation, interactive maps, severe weather alerts and other tools to help you prepare.

Available for Android and iOS operation systems as well as Windows and Blackberry, AccuWeather updates current weather conditions every 15 minutes or so.

EyeinSkyapp_artEye in the Sky (left) is a simple, yet effective and customizable app for reporting the weather in your location.

The Weather Channel’s app may be the most comprehensive: it’s available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry,  Windows phone devices, iPad and Kindle. You can get et weather information for any U.S. city or ZIP code via text message. Other alerts such as severe weather forecasts are also available.