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4 free Android Apps you absolutely need for the Holidays - fixedByVonnie

4 free Android Apps you absolutely need for the Holidays

The web is teeming with Apps.

The Windows 8.1 App Store has over 100,000 total apps.  And this past July, Sundar Pichai, Senior VP of Android and Chrome, announced that the Google Play store has over 1 million apps.  Two months later, Nathan Ingraham of The Verge, reported the Apple App store also crested over the one million app mark.

These are stratospheric numbers that are both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing is that the proliferation of apps gives customers the flexibility to choose the right app for his or her needs.  The curse of course, is being paralyzed by the ability to choose.  With so many options how can you cut through the sludge and find the perfect app?

Which apps will really work for you? Yes, it has 5 stars, raving reviews, and millions of downloads but will it work for your specific needs?

That’s the question I hope to answer today.

On this Thanksgiving eve people are traveling all over the nation to see friends and family and I thought this is the perfect time to show you my list of the top 5 free apps for your Galaxy S4 (or any Android device).

Come with me

4. Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner

I think I’ve cooked two meals in my life:

  1. Ramen Noodles in College
  2. Beet Salad for my wife

My cooking skills are atrocious, plus I’m lazy so the confluence of those two factors inevitably results in a bad meal (or no meal at all).

If you’re like me then you may want to check out an App I found today called Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner.

Galaxy S4 Allrecipes.com

This little app (about 9 Megabytes) lets you flick through dinner possibilities via horizontal carousels that group ideas by:

  • Dish
  • Ingredients
  • Cook time

If you’re feeling spontaneous, just shake your phone for a random recipe idea.  You can also search for specific recipes that gel with your diet.  For example, if you’re only interested in gluten-free recipes then you can refine your search to match that criterion.

From the main screen, I assiduously searched for “turkey” under Ingredients but, instead got lost in a deluge of Cheese, Chicken and Beef.

For some reason that elusive bird wasn’t listed.  But that’s no problem, just tap the Add Customer Ingredient button, key in turkey and search the results.

Allrecipes.com searching Turkey results

Simple Turkey Chili looks pretty good…

Allrecipes.com Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes

Scroll down in the app to read reviews and directions for preparation.

3. Weddar

This App isn’t as established as some of the others.  It’s one of the new kids on the block but it’s starting to gain momentum as more people realize the benefits of what Weddar calls “people powered weather”.

Instead of relying on the quantified data of expert meteorologists you can become an instant weather reporter sharing how the weather feels.

Galaxy S4 Weddar Report

So instead of reading that it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit in Bryant Park, NYC you’ll see that someone says “It’s nice but pretty windy”.

Think of Weddar like a social, crowd-sourced weather app.  As Nick O’Neill first observed on his blog startupstats, “the weather is a constant talking point” and weather enthusiasts and aficionados abound so I really hope this gains traction.

Galaxy S4 Weddar Check App

This Thanksgiving there’s a colossal storm marching through the Northeast so apps like this can be invaluable when planning your trips.

But one major problem I have with Weddar is that it’s not very intuitive.

In other words, you might find yourself tapping stuff that looks tappable only to find that doesn’t do anything.  Perhaps this is only a peccadillo but it definitely bruised my user experience.

I think social weather apps are still a nascent idea so I hope Weddar can champion it and make it accessible to the masses.

2. Red Laser

It has over 27 million downloads…

Saved millions of people thousands of dollars

And has a name you can never forget when you think about the laser guns retail shops use to scan merchandise.

Red Laser has been around for a while but it wasn’t until this week that I discovered it.  As Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just hours away, it’s pivotal that shoppers are armed with the best deals possible.

When the doors fling open and the melee of rabid shoppers charge the shelves it’s nice to know we have an advocate that will help us get the best deals on quality stuff.

I’m not really a frugal guy and there are very few things I loathe more than shopping during the holidays – but my wife loves getting deals and this App can really save you both time and money.

This is how it works:

Grab the App, scan a barcode and get instant access to the best prices nearby and online. You can even buy merchandise from directly within the app which basically transforms the App into a digital wallet.

The scanner works surprisingly well too.  My hand was shaky and the image was blurry but the Red Laser app recognized the product even before I moved the camera to the barcode stripes!

You don’t even have to press a button to take the snapshot, it does it automatically and then shows you a list of online, nearby, and related goods.

Galaxy S4 Red Laser Image Scanner

This is actually a book I already own and like a dolt, paid the full retail price at Barnes and Nobel.  I think it’s listed for $44.99.

Galaxy S4 Red Laser Online, Local and Related

Now I feel ripped off because Red Laser is telling me I can buy it from Alibris for just $13 dollars used…

Ahh, I wish I knew about this app earlier.

Incidentally, you can also conveniently share your list of items via email, Twitter, Google Keep or through almost any social app you have installed on your phone.

Conversely, amid all the benefits, the app isn’t without it’s shortcomings.  For example, sometimes the search results aren’t relevant or Red Laser erroneously thinks the product is unavailable locally; however, it’s hard not to overlook these foibles when you consider all the savings you’ll rack up this holiday season.

1. Waze

Waze actually puts the fun back in driving.  It makes driving in traffic fun.

No joke, I had to take my truck to the auto repair shop this morning, so I downloaded the app anticipating the interminable traffic of the Long Island Expressway.

It turns out, Waze anticipated that too.

Waze excels because it gives you real-time help from other drivers about traffic and road conditions.  It’s basically an enormous community of smartphone toting drivers who share real-time updates about the road.

As I was driving to the mechanic I saw a little police man icon pop-on to the map and then a little number that read 17 miles per hour.

I thought, “Ah! so that’s why traffic is slow, and sure enough I checked my speedometer and confirmed I was moving along at 15mph.”

Waze App

It’s easy to find options, you can either utter voice commands or tap open the menu which displays cool stats like how many Wazers are nearby, the number of reports in the area and other cool stuff like finding the cheapest gas stations, favorite Facebook friends and updated road reports.

Waze Options

Now, this may sound silly but I really like the jovial way other Waze users are represented on the road; they look like little ghosts on wheels.

That small, seemingly insignificant feature strangely improves my driving mood.

Finally, there’s one other compelling reason to check this app out: comedian Kevin Hart.

Last week Waze announced that you can download Kevin Harts voice commands to the app. You absolutely must check out this hilarious 60 second Youtube video.  When Hart said:

Watch out! Pothead on road ahead!

I almost lost it.


Just get the app.  It’s utilitarian benefit is just as high as the entertainment it brings.  And most of all, with Waze you’ll never have to sit in your car cursing in a traffic jam.

The Bottom Line

The holidays are stressful.

It’s supposed to be a time filled with unremitting laughter.  A time where busy, working people can bow out of the maelstrom of the workweek and enjoy the respite of their families.  A time to give thanks for all you have.  A time to enjoy life and breathe again.

But finding the perfect recipe can feel like an onerous task.

Checking the weather can leave you wondering why the forecast doesn’t feel the way the news guy said it would.

Finding the best deals on the go can be a herculean chore…

And navigating the labyrinthine streets of the city can really ruin your whole trip.

That’s why I truly hope this small collection of apps will really help you this holiday season.  Let me know which apps worked for you in the comments below.  Also, if you know of any other stellar apps that you think should have made my list, please share.

Happy thanksgiving all.


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Posted in Hardware, How To, Samsung Galaxy S4, Smartphones Tagged with: