Here are several apps I’ve been using and can strongly recommend.
Wine Spectator’s ratings
Have you ever wondered which of a few wines is best? I come across this problem often, particularly in restaurants with an abbreviated wine list: two or three wines with similar pricing. Which to order?
I’ve been searching for a wine app with a sufficient number of professionally rated wines that can help me choose. Wine Spectator’s app does a decent job in this regard. You can quickly search wines by name and get a score and retail price. There are lots of other features, including favorite picks by price and score, as well as vintage charts for wines of the world. While I’m not always in agreement with its rating methods, you can’t beat it for the number of wines tasted by professional tasters. It’s $2.99/month from the Apple app store.
Do you have a cause or company that you are for or against? Buycott checks your potential purchases and lets you know if there’s a connection. Buycott users can also create their own campaign, as well. The app is being used to identify products from companies owned by the Koch brothers, companies that pay no U.S. taxes, advertisers participating in the 2014 Olympics in Russia, and even a campaign to stop pit bull discrimination. To use it, simply scan the barcode of the product. Buycott looks it up and checks the company’s owners and compares it with the companies you’ve chosen to boycott. It’s a free app for the iPhone and Android phones. (buycott.com).
Moxtra is an app that provides a way to share and collaborate information built around the concept of shared mobile binders. You can share documents, Web pages or nearly anything that’s collected into the binders. The app also allows third-party apps to be shared as well, rather than needing to use special versions of those apps. Examples include Salesforce.com, Evernote, Dropbox, Box, Fujitsu ScanSnap and YouTube. You can think of Moxtra as Evernote for right-brained individuals, less structure and more freeform. Available for iPhone and iPad. (moxtra.com).
Yes, even the The Toll Roads company now has an app, and, surprisingly, it’s quite useful. I was easily able to register rental cars on it when in the Bay Area, where they no longer accept money to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. There new system now takes a photo of the license plate of the car you are driving and bills you for the toll.
But if you are driving a rental car, you need to preregister the rental car’s license plate, which you can do with this app. If you do not, and use the rental car’s built-in transponder, most of the rental car companies will impose huge charges. (It varies by rental car company, but typically it’s about $3 per day plus the toll charge for each day you’ve rented the car, even if you use a toll just once.) With this app, you can also check your account balance, make a payment, add or delete a vehicle and request an additional transponder. It’s free and available for both Android and iPhone.
Weight Watchers apps
Weight Watchers, which charges $19 per month to participate in its weight-loss program, has a robust online program that’s done through the Web as well as apps for Android, the iPhone and iPad. Its primary app, WW Mobile, is used to track points, a unit of measure that relates to calories and nutritional value.
You can quickly access close to 150,000 foods, including store bought, basic ingredients and fast food and restaurant menu items, and add their point values to your daily allotment. The app also keeps track of your weekly weight losses. A second app, WW Scanner, scans the barcodes on food and provides the number of points in a serving. Apps are free, but you need to be a paying Weight Watcher member to get them to run. (weightwatchers.com).
Talkler is a new app that reads your email to you. The free app for the iPhone provides voice-activated, no-hands control that can read one message after another. The voice sounds human, not robotic, and it quickly skips through extraneous text, such as headers and long urls. You wake it up by saying, “Hey, Talkler,” and then issue a command. You can say “play my emails,” ask it to skip, slow down or speed up. The reading is done using a combination of female and male voices. (talkler.com)
Apple’s built-in clock offers a weak alarm capability. You can set alarms only within a 24-hour window, and it’s a convoluted process, basically editing an existing alarm or adding a new one. And it doesn’t work when I want to set alarms for more than 24 hours in advance or create a recurring series of alarms. Alarmed is all that and more. A string of alarms can be easily set for the same day or any day in the future at any time. You can customize each alarm and set it to repeat at any interval, and even add a long message. Alarmed also includes Pop-Up Timers that can be set to count up or down from 1 second to 99 hours. Available free for the iPhone. An upgrade package costs $1.99 and adds a few more features; I gladly paid it because I found I was using the app almost daily. (yoctoville.com)
Baker is the author of "From Concept to Consumer," published by Financial Times Press. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may be published online or as Letters to the Editor.