8 iOS, Android Apps That Are Strangely Useful - InformationWeek

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2/16/2015
10:35 AM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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8 iOS, Android Apps That Are Strangely Useful

Your iPhone or Android smartphone can predict the weather, but can it tell you the closest flu outbreak or get a wake-up call from around the globe?
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(Image source: Google Play)

(Image source: Google Play)

It's hard to imagine a time when phones were solely used for calling and texting -- when they didn't take pictures or videos. I remember thinking that my first cell phone, a pay-as-you-go trinket from Virgin Mobile, was on the cutting edge of technology because I could change the colored tint of the screen.

Now, it seems the phrase "there's an app for that" has always been a part of the English language. With hundreds of thousands of apps available for iOS and Android, it seems like there's one to help with just about every aspect of day-to-day life.

For some apps, it's easy to see the value. Apps like Skype and WhatsApp make it easy to keep in touch friends and family across the world. Photo apps like Flickr can store years of memories. Some are purely educational; I've been using Duolingo to brush up on some long-forgotten Spanish skills.

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No doubt that IT pros keep their smartphones stocked with apps that assist with everyday responsibilities. In addition to essential apps like Google Maps and Accuweather, there are apps for productivity (Evernote) and storage (Dropbox).

Of course, there is an excess of useless programs clogging up app stores. There's a game that records the amount of time that extraordinarily bored people can hold their finger on a button, and another that serves as a vast source of information on celebrity heights. You know, in case you have a date with Alicia Silverstone coming up.

Fortunately for professionals and consumers, there are plenty of apps that bridge the gap between essential and useless. These are the apps you didn't know you needed, such as the one that switches your phone to vibrate when it senses you're at work, or the app that provides a color-coded calendar for when to book cheap flights.

Click through the gallery to browse some apps that are a little strange, but still pretty useful. Any suggestions that aren't on our list? Share them in the comments.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
3/2/2015 | 9:12:08 AM
Re: Waterlogged
I like this post - a lot of funny ideas and interesting use cases. Some of them may become more and more popular in the near future. Especially I like the idea of lettng app to predict the outbreak of flu.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:57:16 AM
Re: Waterlogged
@Pedro: Lost smartphones waste time, opportunities, money, charging, and add stress. Compounded globally these costs would add upto a few million dollars. So apps like Marco polo are immensely Useful.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
2/27/2015 | 9:51:14 AM
Re: Waterlogged
Carrr, Matey takes the cake for car-finding innovation, I agree. I'm thinking Zombies, Run may be more geared toward those who need an extra boost to get off the couch. I can see how it might be a fun way for people who normally hate exercise to get up and moving.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2015 | 9:38:11 PM
Re: Waterlogged
@kelly22: I liked the car finding app as well but I think the zombies, run! app isn't a good fitness guide. The better apps out of them are those which generate some interest.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2015 | 9:33:13 PM
Re: Waterlogged
@pedro: You are right. The marco polo app is quite an innovation. Well the thing is, would the app continuously listen for someone who says marco, or would it only listen for the voice when the phone is in standby mode i.e. nobody is using the phone? Also, does this app have an integrated Voice Recognition?
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2015 | 9:30:53 PM
Re: Waterlogged
Waterlogged? Meh. I really love the Sickweather! If I ever go to africa I'll be avoiding ebola just because I have this app that will inform me about locations of ebola! 
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 6:35:11 AM
Re: Waterlogged
I second you glenbren and I haven't found anything such innovative which gets my attention or is a must have on my smart device. I think these are such devices which will be used for a few initial days but after that they will stay in some corner on the cell phone and will be deleted after a few months.
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
2/17/2015 | 10:16:09 PM
Re: Waterlogged
None of these apps sound very intriguing to me.  I'm pretty sure the novelty of the pirate voice would wear off pretty quickly, and having some stranger call to wake me up in the morning would just be awkward. These would probably end up with all the other apps I've downloaded and never used. I don't even know what half the apps on my phone are anymore.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/17/2015 | 7:15:45 PM
Re: Waterlogged
The apps I like the best are the smartphone finder and water tracking.  I have misplaced my phone wasting many hours in locating it when it was usually in the least place I have expected.  I know many people will benefit from this.  the other apps are for people with plenty of smartphone space which is something, if you are an iphone user, is always a liability. 
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
2/17/2015 | 3:31:31 PM
Re: Waterlogged
Hope Waterlogged works for you! That's an important one, most people don't really drink as much water as they should during the day. Hopefully Marco Polo can work out the kinks. Out of all these apps, that was my favorite concept.
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