Appy Hour: WordReference

App: WordReference
By: WordReference.com, LLC
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

Whether you’re a foreign language major or just want to look up one word, the WordReference app is a valuable reference tool. The app translates Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish. You can search an English word and get the foreign translation or vice versa. WordReference provides all the standard features of a dictionary, such as pronunciation and parts of speech. In addition, each definition of a word comes with an example sentence. For instance, the English word “mouse” would have a sentence for the meaning of small rodent and another sentence for the meaning of computer accessory. This is followed by compound words (e.g. “field mouse” or “mouse pad”) and then a list of other dictionary entries containing that word (e.g. “double click” or “squeak”). All of that is pretty standard for a foreign language dictionary, but the rest of the app’s features make it even more useful. Every entry lists related forums, where native and non-native speakers answer questions that are not addressed by the word’s definition. One forum debates the French equivalent of “Mickey Mouse degree” while another forum seeks a Spanish translation of the medical term “mouse strain.” You can also use the app to launch a Google text or image search for the word. Finally, you can save a term if you find yourself looking up a word or phrase often.

Appy Hour: &pizza

App: &pizza
By: LevelUp Consulting, LLC
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

You’ve probably already visited the delicious restaurant &Pizza, but did you know it has an app? The number one reason to get the app is the rewards program. Every time you pay for your pizza using the app, you get credit toward a free pizza. Spend $100 and get a $10 credit. It’s that easy. It’s also super convenient to pay with the app. All you have to do is link your credit or debit card to the app, then scan your phone at a reader near the register. There’s no need to have cash on hand or carry your credit card around. If you want to pay the traditional way, you can still get credit for your purchase by scanning your rewards code at the register.

The &pizza app also allows you to order ahead so you can beat the line. First choose one of seventeen locations in DC, Maryland, Virginia, or Pennsylvania. The app will remember your choice the next time you open it, but you can change it if necessary. The app will also remember your past orders so you can select your favorites quickly. Feel like trying something different? Just like in the store, you can choose one of the pizzas on the menu or create your own. Finish your order with soda, water, or tea. When you arrive at the restaurant, go straight to the till to pick up your pizza, then pat yourself on the back for being so efficient.

Appy Hour: MyFitnessPal

App: MyFitnessPal MyFitnessPal icon
By: MyFitnessPal.com
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

It’s one month into the new year. Have you lost steam on your resolution to eat right and exercise more? MyFitnessPal can help get you motivated again. This app makes it super easy to set goals and follow through on them. You can also share your progress with friends to motivate each other. Finally, MyFitnessPal has a ton of useful articles on all kinds of health topics, from nutritious recipes to workout guides to ways to improve your sleep.

When you first set up your free MyFitnessPal account, you enter some basic information about your height, weight, goals, and activity level. Although the app focuses on weight loss, some people use it to help themselves gain weight, especially bulking up muscle. Based on your weight goals, MyFitnessPal recommends daily goals for calorie, carbs, protein, and fat intake. You can also customize these goals instead of using the automatic recommendations. To track your progress on these goals, you can log the beverages and food you consume each day, as well as the amount of exercise you got and that day’s weight. The app lets you set reminders if you forget to log in and record this data. What makes MyFitnessPal so appealing is that you don’t have to calculate calories and nutrients yourself. It has a massive database of foods, so you can enter something as simple as “Caesar salad” or as specific as “Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Light Frappuccino Blended Coffee.” You can also look up foods by scanning the barcode on packages. However you search for it, the database is bound to have all the nutrition information for that item. If the information in the database is wrong, you can correct it or add a new item manually. One helpful feature is the ability to save meals or foods you make or buy often so you don’t have to search for them all the time.

There’s a similar system for entering your exercise data. You can select from a long list of activities ranging from the common (running) to the unexpected (horse grooming). You can use the app’s recommendation for the number of calories burned for each exercise or change it manually. Once again, you can make a list of frequent exercises for easy input. MyFitnessPal deducts the number of calories burned from the number you consumed to give you a net total for each day.

MyFitnessPal also integrates with lots of other apps and devices. Connect it to your smart scale or your Fitbit. You can even let it access your phone’s Apple Health or Google Fit apps to count your steps automatically. If you want to get more engaged with working out, use the app to book fitness classes through Mindbody. Browse by type of class (e.g. yoga or kickboxing) or search a studio near you.

There’s a strong community aspect to MyFitnessPal as well. There are thousands of discussion forums on nearly every health topic imaginable. Chat with other members about body building, personal success stories, or just fun stuff unrelated to fitness. You can also connect to people you know in real life. View their progress or share yours.

MyFitnessPal has so many awesome features, so get back on track with your health today.

Appy Hour: StoryCorps

App: StoryCorps  StoryCorps icon
By: StoryCorps, Inc.
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

During this winter break, you’ll probably get a chance to visit with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while. Make your time together memorable by interviewing a loved one. Find out something you’ve always wanted to know or capture oral history for posterity. All interviews uploaded through the app will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

When you open the app for the first time, you are asked to log in or sign up. You can sign up using your Facebook account or by creating a StoryCorps account. Once your account is created, you can start preparing your interviews right away. Pick a title and add the name(s) of the participant(s). Choose from dozens of suggested questions or write your own. Examples of suggested questions are “What advice would you give to your teenage self?” and “Tell me a favorite memory of me.”

When you’re ready to record, just press the “Record” button. An introductory paragraph will display on the screen with a template for introducing the interview. You tap the screen to advance to the next question. When you’re done asking questions or you’ve hit the 45-minute maximum recording length, you have the option to take or upload a photo to go with your interview.  Then you have the chance to review your interview information and add a summary, keywords, and location. Finally, you can either publish the interview to the StoryCorps.me website or save it to your device (with the option to publish it later).

The main focus of the StoryCorps app is your own interviews, but it has other features too. You can browse and listen to interviews uploaded by other people. There is also a “How It Works” guide and a “Helpful Hints” section.

Appy Hour: ibotta

App: ibotta  ibotta icon
By: Ibotta, Inc.
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

The holidays are fast approaching and you’ll probably be shopping more. Why not save money on the items you already buy? ibotta is a rebate app that gives you cash back for name brand and generic items in hundreds of stores. It eliminates cutting coupons and mailing in rebates. The cash from your rebates can be delivered to your PayPal or Venmo account or be used to purchase gift cards from major retailers.

When you open ibotta for the first time, you need to create an account. You can also invite friends to join and get a referral bonus. If you and friends collect enough rebates, you could all earn an additional bonus.

The app helps you find potential rebates in several ways. You can search for specific items (e.g. toilet paper or Diet Coke) or even scan the barcode of a potential item. You can also browse items at different stores or in categories like grocery, pharmacy, and clothing. Once you find an item, simply select it and then verify your purchase by scanning the item’s barcode and your receipt. This all happens within the app using your smartphone’s camera.

Appy Hour: Voter

App: Voter Voter icon
By: Voter, LLC
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

The election is approaching fast and you may still be undecided or you might just want a simple introduction to today’s political issues. Voter allows you to answer simple questions about your stance on various topics and provides information on them along the way. At the end, the app matches you with a presidential candidate and political party.

When you open Voter, it asks if you want to sign in with your email address or Facebook or continue without signing in. If you choose to sign in, the app will save your matching information and you can compare your matches to other users.

Questions appear on the screen and you swipe right for yes and left for no. The questions deal with issues like immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage, onshore drilling, etc. You can click for more information on each topic and indicate how important that subject is to you. The app also provides some brief background information and a few reasons to vote yes or no. There are five sets of questions for a total of 83 questions, but you are not required to complete all tiers. As you move through each level, the questions become more detailed. Unfortunately, the app does not allow you to skip any questions within a group.

After analyzing your responses, Voter shows you matches to a political party and presidential candidate. If your views are diverse, the presidential candidate might not be from the same political party. It also lists “influencers,” which are people who align with your views. These people include journalists, pundits, television hosts, and even celebrities. If you enter your address, Voter may also be able to match you to local politicians up for reelection, such as governors and senators. This feature doesn’t appear to be available for all areas.

Finally, there is an Updates section with news articles from sources like NPR, Fox News, and Reuters.

 

 

Appy Hour: Settle It!

App: Settle It!  Settle It!

By: PolitiFact
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

If you’re planning to watch the second presidential debate on Sunday night, you’ll hear both candidates make a lot of claims about their opponent and cite a lot of figures. Sift the true from the false with Settle It!, an app from the independent, nonpartisan news organization PolitiFact.

Tap the Settle It! button and search for specific topics mentioned in the debate. You can also tap the browse button to look at subjects (e.g. economy) or speakers (e.g. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump). There is also an option to search by target (e.g. Barack Obama), but the information there is sometimes sparse. Every fact has a truthfulness rating and an explanation with links to sources. If you’re not sure what you want to read about, head over to the trending section.

Additionally, you can take the PolitiFact Challenge, where you guess whether a statement is true, false, or outrageously false. A new quiz appears every week. Share your score on Twitter, Facebook, text message, email, etc.

 

 

 

Appy Hour: VotePlz

App: VotePlz VotePlz
By: VotePlz.org
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

With the presidential race heating up, be sure you’re registered to vote with VotePlz. After you scan the barcode on your license or type in your information manually, VotePlz will tell you whether you’re already registered to vote. If you’re not registered, you can choose to register online or by mail. Note that some states don’t support online voter registration. If you choose to register online, you can fill out and submit your state’s registration form right in the app. If you choose to vote by mail, VotePlz will create the form based on the information you already provided and let you download a PDF or have it delivered by mail for free. Once you’re registered, you can request an absentee ballot if your state allows it.

VotePlz also has several other helpful guides:

  • How to vote for first-timers
  • An explanation of the down-ballot
  • A list of your voting rights

Finally, you can share this app on Twitter, Facebook, text message, email, etc. Sharing earns you points on a leaderboard and enters you in a sweepstakes. You get 25 points for every person who checks their registration via your referral link and you get 10 points for every friend your friends invite.

Appy Hour: Genius

App: Genius Genius app
By: Genius Media Group
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

Genius allows you to explore and create annotations on any piece of text from the mundane (song lyrics, poems, novels) to the unexpected (lists of all the deaths on Game of Thrones, restaurant menus, etc.). Read Lin-Manuel Miranda’s own notes about Hamilton and listen to the songs as you decipher the lyrics. Study William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet line by line while watching videos of the play. Contribute your own annotations to the site or discuss pieces with people all over the world.

All of this can also be found at the Genius website, but the app offers more features. Hold your phone up to music and the lyrics will appear on your screen. Genius can identify the music in your iTunes so you can get the scoop on the tracks you love.

Appy Hour: Funny Or Die Weather

App: Funny Or Die Weather FODW
By: Funny Or Die, Inc.
Price: Free
Device: Reviewed on iPhone

Before you head out for some fun in the sun this Labor Day weekend, check the weather to make sure you won’t be caught in a downpour on the beach. Add some humor with the Funny Or Die Weather app. It shows you real weather forecasts along with funny “facts” like “The humidity of water is extremely high.” You can also share these sarcastic facts, weather tips, and thoughts of the day on social media so your friends can be in on the joke too.

 

This app is attractive, easy to use, and entertaining.