Best apps of 2012: shockingly useful apps for Android and iPhone

Any.Do, GasBuddy, and other practical apps can turn your Android handset or iPhone into an indispensable tool.


Some apps are so convenient and practical that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. From a clock that helps you wake up in the morning to a tool that locates good deals on gas, these apps will revolutionize how you live your daily life.

SayHi Translate ($1) iOSDitch your aging English-to-Spanish dictionary, and check out SayHi Translate. Set the language you want and speak into your phone’s mic, and the app will translate your words. The tool covers 32 languages, so you should have no problem asking where the bathroom is, no matter what country you’re in.

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Smart Tools ($2.50) AndroidNeed a flashlight? How about a compass or a light meter? Smart Tools turns your phone into those things and more. The app has more than 15 tools that can help in various situations, such as when you are measuring objects or determining whether a shelf is level. And the developer is constantly adding new tools.

EDITOR'S PICKAny.Do (free) Android | iOSMore than a to-do list, Any.Do integrates with your calendars to remind you of meetings, and it syncs with your Google Tasks account so you’ll always know what you need to get done. The app will even remind you to call people back if you missed their calls. You can drag and drop tasks, and you can add tasks by typing them in or by speaking them into the microphone.

Lookout Mobile Security (free) Android | iOSThe only antivirus tool you’ll ever need for your Android phone, Lookout Mobile Security scans apps to confirm that they are malware-free, and it will help you locate your phone if the de­­vice goes missing. A paid version ($3 a month or $30 a year) also blocks phishing websites and tells you which apps have access to sensitive data. Note: The iOS version will track your lost phone, but it lacks malware scanning.

Alarm Clock Ultra ($3) AndroidHave trouble waking up? With the alarms and timers in Alarm Clock Ultra, you might never be tardy again. If you tend to hit the snooze button, the app has a mode in which you must solve puzzles before you can shut the alarm off, ensuring that you stay alert. A free version is available, if you wish to try the app first.

EDITOR'S PICKGasBuddy (free) Android | iOSThough gas prices keep going up, your paycheck stays the same. Luckily, GasBuddy can help you get the best deal in town. The app compares the prices in your area and points you toward the station with the lowest rates. You can help out by reporting gas prices to the GasBuddy website, ensuring that everyone has a chance to save cash while filling up.

Bump (free) Android | iOSWith Bump, you can send data between two phones by “bumping” them together. The bumped phones establish a temporary link, en­­abling you to share contact details and photos, or to recommend installed apps to the other party. Both handsets must run the Bump app for the connection to work, but it’s easy and fun to use.

Dropbox (free) Android | iOSDropbox offers one of the simplest ways to sync your files across multiple devices, and it lets you move documents on and off phones without having to plug them into a computer. If you want to have your photos always at hand, you can set the app to upload pictures you take directly to your Dropbox account, making them available to you across all your devices.

This story, "Best apps of 2012: shockingly useful apps for Android and iPhone" was originally published by PCWorld.

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