Thursday, May 10, 2012

5 Apps to Try This Summer

Hopefully most of you are basking in the afterglow of beingdone with testing. It is a great feeling to know that you have made a hugeimpact on yet another group of students. It is also nice to know that summerbreak is just around the corner. WOOHOOOOOO!!!

I thought I would use this post to introduce five apps foryou to test this summer. It is so hard to find the time to experiment withtechnology during the year. Maybe you’ll find a few minutes to give these appsa spin.

Voxer – Marcella Wine-Snyder shared this app with us a fewweeks ago. Essentially Voxer turns your smartphone into a walkie-talkie. Here’swhy it is great.

     1.    You can talk back and forth with someone withoutusing any of your plan’s minutes.

     2.    You can shift over to texting without closing aprogram and opening up another. This comes in handy if you are in themiddle of a conversation and suddenly find yourself in a situation where youhave to be quiet. You should still listen to the sermon. Haha.

     The app will save your conversations so you canplay them back later. A practical example would be if your wife calls you whileyou are at the grocery store with a list of ten more things you need topurchase. (She always calls me when I'm in line. Is there an app for that?) Instead of trying to remember the list and inevitably forgetting, ortaking the time to write it all down, you can just listen to the message. Italso comes in handy when you are on the road and can’t write down notes duringyour conversation. Just play back the conversation later and jot down yournotes. You can easily Vox with multiple users makingfor a very easy conference call. Get Voxer. It is dope. Yes, I just used "dope" to describe an app.

Sleep Cycle – I am not a morning person….AT ALL. Until I get coffee, I'm just super duper tired. If you can identify,consider the Sleep Cycle app. This app will wake you within a certain window oftime that you set and go off at the time when you are in the lightest possiblesleep state. All you do is open the program, set the alarm time, and place the phoneunder your pillow. The program uses the accelerometer in your phone to senseyour movement. It then calculates the best time for you to wake up. I will tellyou that it does not help much if you are only getting a few hours of rest, butit DOES help if you can establish a sleep routine. And yes….there is a snoozebutton.

MapMyRun – So you’re ready to get into shape. It’s time toget out and walk, jog or run! Before you head out, open this handy app and recordyour workout. The app will record your route, speed, time, etc. You can thenlog your workout and share it through your social networks. There is also abuilt-in nutrition program to keep track of calories, weight, and your dailyfood/drink intake. This is a great way to monitor your progress and determineexactly how far you have walked/run. Please consult your physician before starting any exercise program. This app does not work well on a treadmill. Haha.

PBS – Are you and/or your kids fans of PBS? If so, this appis a must. All of your favorite programs and schedules for your local PBSstation are all in one place. Watch these shows right on your phone and sharegreat programming through your social networks. You can even donate to PBSthrough the app. Not sure if you still get the mug or tote. If you have a display out cable, you can even hook your phoneup to a projector and speakers to display clips in your classroom.  For those of you who enjoy publicradio, give the NPR Music app a try as well.

Vlingo – Are you jealous of your friends who have Siri? Ihave an iPhone 4 and my contract isn’t up until this summer. I will likely waitfor the iPhone 5 before I acquire a new phone. Until then I have Vlingo as asubstitute for Siri.

Vlingo provides you with a digital personal assistant. Usingeasy voice commands, you can ask Vlingo about nearby restaurants, send e-mailsor texts, update your Facebook status, and perform searches online. This makes for a muchfaster and safer interaction with your phone while driving. If you text and drive, you could end up in a roadside ditch. Don't wind up in a roadside ditch. 

Give Vlingo a shot and tell your Siri-loving friends that you are now as cool as they are....or have Vlingo tell them that for you.

Do you know of an incredible app that everyone should check out? Quit hogging it to yourself and let us all know about it! Send your app suggestions to me. I love learning about new tools and sharing them with others. Send your suggestions to

I hope the remainder of your year goes smoothly! Here's to an incredible, fun-filled SUMMER!