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Use It Better: Cool Apps for Your Android or iPhone

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SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN/LARRY GREENEMEIER

The joy of an app phone (as opposed to a mere smartphone, which only gets e-mail) is that you can download and install your own little programs and operate them on a touch screen. If you haven’t checked out these apps, you’re missing a lot of joy.

 

* Dragon Dictate. Speech-to-text is built into Android phones—a huge time-saver on a phone with no physical keys. But on the iPhone, you need this free app. Two taps later, you’ve slapped the transcription into a text message, email, or Twitter or Facebook update.

 

* Glee. You sing into your iPhone, and the software autotunes you—and multiplies you, creating a backup choir of you’s, singing perfect harmony. You can post the resulting mix for your adoring fans to hear.

 

* Google Voice. Google’s free service gives you a new phone number; when someone calls it, all your phones ring at once, so people don’t have to hunt you down. The feature list is huge: free texts, free calls, voicemail transcriptions, and so on. This app, which Apple turned down for the iPhone, pulls it all into one place.

 

* Google Goggles. This visual-search app, available for both Android and (as part of the Google Mobile app) for iPhone, seems like futuristic sci-fi stuff. Point the phone’s camera at a book, DVD, wine bottle, logo, painting, landmark or bit of text, and the hyper-intelligent app recognizes it and displays information about it from the Web.

 
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