Google's "Duo" app allows for videochat between an iPhone and Android-based smartphone.

No, the headline above is not a typo. Although there is a popular messaging app that goes by a similar name, this week’s article is not about that app either. Today I want to share with you some of the apps I frequently used on my Android-based smartphone in 2016. When there is the same app for iOS (i.e. iPhone), I will put “(iOS too)” at the end of the sentence.

As an Android-based smartphone user, I always envied the intuitive videochat experience that my wife enjoyed with the Apple-exclusive "FaceTime" app on her iPhone. Imagine my surprise when Google came out with the “Duo” app. Duo is easy and intuitive to use like Apple’s FaceTime and the best part of it is that “Duo” exists for iOS too! So unlike FaceTime where usage is limited to communication between Apple products, I can call my wife’s iPhone that has Duo, from my Android-based smartphone, and start a videochat.

In both my personal and professional lives, I oft have a need to scan a document while on the go instead of waiting until I get back to my home office. For this I use an app called “CamScanner” (iOS too); it was the best $4.99 I ever spent on an app. There are other free and notable apps similar to CamScanner such as “Office Lens” (iOS too) and “Google Drive” (iOS too).

As a patron of Westlake Porter Public Library, there are two apps that I can’t afford not to have. “Lynda: Learning New Skills With Online Courses” (iOS too) is a free app but normally requires a $20 monthly subscription fee to access the training videos on multitude of subjects. But as a patron of WPPL, you can get in for free (monthly subscription fee is waived)! The other is “Zinio for Libraries” (iOS too) which allows library patrons to view magazines on your Power of One devices including a tablet.

There are times that I need to communicate sensitive information, like passwords, to people. Email and regular texting is insecure and leaves a trail of information on computers en route from A to B. That is why I use the “Signal” app (iOS too) for transmitting confidential information.

For an app that aggregates and categorizes news to your customized interest areas, I rely on “SmartNews” (iOS too). For a little fun, the “Lichess” app (iOS too) is a free chess game that can also be installed on a tablet if you want a bigger screen.

Although I’m lousy at it and can’t even call myself a beginner yet, I would like to be a regular practitioner of meditation. Lydia Gadd, Westlake's director of community services, has discussed the importance of breathing so I use the $3.99 app “Breathing Zone” (iOS too) to practice.

Remember, apps are what make your smartphones and tablets so much more versatile and valuable!

Tak Sato

Technology and Organization Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As co-founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World" and co-founder of Center for Aging in the Digital World, a nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 8, Issue 22, Posted 9:41 AM, 11.15.2016