Mobile phones have become ubiquitous that they are no longer used for just calling and texting. They now literally run our lives, from alarms, planners, fitness, data sheets, entertainment, you name it.
At the center of all this functionality are apps. Think of them like a workman’s tools. I can bet my life that whatever you want done, there’s an app for it. You just need to scour app stores and you’ll be amazed that there are apps to help you eat, sleep, even think.
That said, it won’t be practical to download every app you fancy just for the sake of it. You therefore need to have apps that definitely make your life better. And on that regard, here are ten I think everyone should have. Note that am not listing specific apps but rather their functionality. While it would be nice to sound out specific apps, there is need to recognize that there are different platforms (iOS, Android, Tizen, Simbian, Blackberry, Amazon, Fire OS etc) and some apps are not availble across all the platforms. Besides, there are hundreds, or even thousands, of apps for each function.
Digital revolution has ensured that you manage your finances from the comfort of wherever you are. The case is not better exemplified anywhere else than here in Kenya. M-PESA sparked a mobile money revolution that has seen financial institutions shift operations from brick and mortar settings to mobile. Evey bank worth their salt has a mobile app through which you can buy airtime, pay for goods and services, withdraw and deposit cash and get statements. If your bank doesn’t have a mobile app then you need to reevaluate your relationship with them. While others argue that they encourage impulsive use, we all got to agree that the convenience is worth it, in most cases.
It’s the bane of good and bad. Some blame it for catalysing social evils while others can’t help but marvel at its usefulness. Social media has led to crime while at the same time its been useful in combatting it. It has enthroned leaders and dethroned others (think the Arab uprising). It therefore suffices to say it’s a necessary evil. Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram (god, Zuckerberg has taken over our lives) among others, allow us to keep in touch with loved ones and enemies. They are instrumental in reuniting long lost friends and relatives, stalking exe(s), providing important updates, running campaigns and dating. Heck, fundraisers are now run via WhatsApp groups!! Of importance though, is responsible use.
Everyone goes to the internet like a million times in a day, at a minimum. You therefore cannot afford to not have a decent mobile browser installed. While most smartphones ship with okay stock browsers, they’re just that, okay. You can revamp your browsing experience by downloading a browser that compresses data for faster loading speeds and savings on mobile data costs. A decent browser should also be able to save pages for offline reading, have smooth copy/paste functionality, have tabs and if possible, have a QR reader for those QR codes on product magazines.
Of course these are among core apps that come with a phone. However, they have restrictions such as text length and no. of recipients. Third party messaging apps will allow you to send longer massages, attach media files and documents and in some cases make audio/video calls.
When I said smartphones run our lives I meant in every aspect, not excluding note taking. You are in a meeting and you need to take down some really useful info. But, you don’t have a pen and a notebook because nobody, except scribes, walks around with those, it’s the 21st century (men will agree mostly because we don’t walk around with purses and gigantic handbags). The note app on your phone will save the day, if your phone has one. While most devices come with a stock notes app, I bet it lacks some core features such as adding reminders, highliting or changing fonts and color.
You’re going through an awesomely worded blog post but then the author throws in some gargantuan words and jargon that throws you off course. At this point, you have to swallow your pride and accept ‘kisungu apana mdomo yetu.’ Or better still, you’re trying to show your crush you’re exposed and learned by throwing some glittery words from the Queen’s tongue. Problem is, you’re just but a common John and the most sophisticated word you can come up with is ‘juxtapose.’ Whatever the case, a dictionary (preferably an offline one) comes in handy.
Every one of us, everyone except atheists of course, wants to be close to the creator and walk in His path. Nonetheless we are unable to because of mahangaiko na shughuli za kila siku. So you only get to read the holy scripture in sacred premises, fresh from church/mosque, when you want to verify some damning statements a preacher is blaring on a roadside crusade or when faced with challenges your human ability cannot overcome. Not having a Bible/Quran close by can be an excuse, but not when you have a smartphone and can download it and refer whenever wherever.
You probably love your reads but find it cumbersome carrying paperback copies around at the expense of being labelled a snob or pretender. Your smartphone comes in handy here as well. Any notable book has a digitized version somewhere in the web. All you have to do is download Kindle or any other e-reader and get to read it at your convenience. E-readers are also handy in the sense that they make bookmarking and note taking much easier. Not to mention giving you the ability to search text.
On the same note, is a PDF an e-book? Let me know in the comments section.
Most smartphones come with stock media players, both audio and video. Unfortunately, most of them don’t play all media formats, forcing you to look for third party ones. Other than having codecs to play a wide variety of formats, third party media players come with extra features to enhance your entertainment experience. For instance, try MX Player to understand my point.
This should be obvious but for some reason stock file managers lack basic features like changing default storage location or even search capability. Third party file managers are packed with extra features such as app management, phone management, media players etc. Unless you get a good file manager such as ES Explorer, you may not understand how much you’re missing out.