Unicorns for your devices

"Kamen Rider" was the superhero that I grew up watching in Japan, akin to "G.I. Joe" for American boys. Just like "Barbie'' dolls, there's "Licca-chan" dolls for Japanese girls. Unicorns are another such example for girls the world over. Growing up in Japan and living my adult life in CLE, it's rewarding to have been exposed to multiple cultures as I appreciate both the similarities and differences that lead to each culture's uniqueness.

The unicorns for your devices are not in the "fantasy world"; they are in the digital world, representative of the definition of "something unusual, rare, or unique" per Merriam Webster's website. It's rare to find unicorn apps, among the millions of apps in Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store, that are free to install on my smartphone/tablet, without advertisements, and provide entertainment, educational, or other "values" to the user.

Finding such unicorn software applications for personal computers (PC) is easier but remember that PCs have also been around longer than smartphones/tablets. However, if I venture out to other resources, aka "repositories" in geek parlance, for Android unicorn apps, it becomes rather trivial. This requires supporting knowledge as to the pro's and con's thus I hope to write about these in future columns. For now, the unicorns I list below are from Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store for their respective ecosystems.

Even before smartphones/tablets became ubiquitous, Solitaire card games were quite popular on personal computers providing entertainment value. Thus it makes sense that there are many – probably hundreds although I've never counted – solitaire card game apps. For Android smartphones/tablets, search for "Classic Solitaire Klondike" and make sure the developer listed is "PotatoJam" (Play Store). For iPhones/iPads, search for the same name but the developer should be listed as "Nadzeya Roshchyna" (App Store).

The next two unicorns provide educational value. "Merlin Bird ID" by Cornell Lab of Ornithology is an app that can identify birds from the pictures you take of them or their chirpings you record.

Similar to Merlin Bird ID is "Seek" by iNaturalist, which should be a great companion for the avid bird watchers especially since the migratory season is starting. Seek is useful for identifying animals and plants. I tried Seek and it was not successful identifying my snowbird colleague though – LOL!

To round up the unicorns that exist for both iPhones/iPads and Android smartphones/tablets including Chromebooks that I personally use frequently, is "PhotoScan" by Google Photos which I wrote about in March of this year. You can find that column on the Observer website at wbvobserver.com/read/columns/the-digital-world.

A few other unicorns providing entertainment value for Android smartphones/tablets and Chromebooks: "OpenSudoku" by Oscar Garcia Amor, "lichess" by lichess.org mobile 1, and "OpenGemmy" by Scillarium Studio. Finally, the same Solitaire game is playable through your favorite browser on any device at potatojam.com/games/cks.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy coaching as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation. Please visit EmpowerSeniors.Org for more information!

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Volume 15, Issue 17, Posted 9:16 AM, 09.19.2023