Trib Tips

If you're into the “don't worry, be appy” scene, check out these smartphone and tablet app recommendations from Chris Davis, Spring Lake District Library's self-described “tech guy.”
Marie Havenga
Jan 11, 2013

Davis presented “There's an App for That” at the library this week to teach patrons how to download items from the library collection. He also shared his favorite free apps.

Overdrive is a “must-have” app to download free e-books and audio books from the Spring Lake library or Grand Haven's Loutit District Library, according to Davis. Free tutoring sessions are available — just sign up at your local branch.

Here's the rest of his hand-picked list:

— Pandora: Pandora is a free, personalized radio that only plays the music you want. Start with the name of one of your favorite artists or songs and Pandora creates a custom “station” that plays similar music. Davis said he listens to more music now that he owns a tablet than he used to on his car radio.

— Skype: This versatile video-sharing app allows you to instant message, voice or video call friends and family who also have the app installed. “There's so much you can do right from the palm of your hand,” Davis said.

— Google Sky Maps: If you have an Android tablet or phone, you can turn your device into a map of the night sky. Hold the phone in different directions and it will show you the stars and planets that are aligned there. The time travel feature allows you to see how the heavens will look at any date in future. Want to see what the sky looked like the night you were born? You can do that, too.

— Google Drive: Store in the cloud with 5 gigabytes of free space. Davis said you could safely store all your stuff in one place and access it from any computer or device, anytime, anywhere. You can park your documents, pictures, videos or other files on Google Drive and easily share them with others. Dropbox and Evernote are other great options for free cloud storage. If you exceed the allowable free space, you may purchase additional storage.

— 250+ Solitaire: The name is a bit deceiving. This free app actually deals up 253 different solitaire games — including Freecell, Klondike, Canfield and more. A description, rules and demonstration accompany each version.

— ES File Explorer: Davis said this is the file manager to have on your mobile device, performing both basic and complex organization tasks. You can easily bookmark and access frequently used folders, just like you do on a laptop or desktop. Quick access buttons provide swift navigation. You can cut, copy, rename, delete, move, or zip and unzip files.

— QR Barcode Scanner: Although there are more versatile apps that will alert you to best prices on items you scan (ShopSavvy or Red Laser), Davis said this basic model does well with what it is intended to do: provide information about the item you scan, including price, description and sometimes multimedia demonstrations.

— TuneIn Radio: You can listen to music, sports, news and talk radio from around the world with this nifty live-streaming app. It boasts more than 70,000 live radio stations and more than 2 million podcasts, concerts and shows.

Watch future Trib Tips for more free app suggestions that will help save you time and money, or provide easy avenues for learning and entertainment.

Have some favorite apps, household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail your suggestions to Marie Havenga at mhavenga@grandhaventribune.com. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.

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