© Evernote

You often hear someone talk about a new app that they have just come across that has “changed the way do something forever”…that is… until another one comes along and trumps it. Apps have been used on smartphones and tablets for just about everything from playing games (Angry Birds anyone?), navigating around town, finding your favourite recipe or even monitoring your heart during workouts.

So what are these apps that have taken over our lives and made their homes on our beloved gadgets? In this article I would like to give a brief intro in to their origins and share three of my most useful/favourite apps (at this point in writing) with you.

An ‘App’ is short for application software and is often used to refer to mobile apps that are developed for smartphones and tablets. There are a few disagreements on who first coined this term and when, but, I think it’s fair to say that the popularity of the iphone and ipad, helped turn this term into a household name, so much so that, in 2010 it was voted as the word of the year by the American Dialect society.

The majority of apps are for the two most popular operating systems, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS that run our favourite gadgets. iOS apps can be downloaded through Apple’s App store and Android apps through Google’s ‘Play store’. 

I've got a phone that runs on Android OS and an iPad that runs on iOS. When I upload a new document or change a reminder through my phone I would like that change to be automatically reflected when I access them through my iPad, even though they are two different unconnected devices running different operating systems. Luckily for us, most app developers try to make apps that are compatible with both Android and iOS and can synchronise your files and data seamlessly as is the case for the three listed below.

Google Drive App 
I remember buying a 128 megabyte Flash Drive in 2004 and thinking that this will meet all my storage needs for a long while. That ‘long while’ didn’t last too long and 16 gigabyte drives are now the norm. The other problem with flash drives is that you need to have them at hand in order to access your data and have a tendency to slip and hide in the darkest recesses of the backs of sofas or trousers that have been put away indefinitely. Google drive is an online file storage service. Users get 15 GB of storage free and pay for extra storage if required. Through the Google Drive app I now store all my files which include eBooks, documents, photos, videos etc. and access them through either my phone, tablet or through my laptop.  All you need is a free gmail address and you are good to go. You can choose to share your files with your friends through their gmail account or keep them confidential. Google drive can also be accessed through your online browser but having the app makes the experience a whole lot easier and faster.

Flipboard is an article aggregator app, which means that it collects all online articles and news, through blogs and websites, according to your preferences and displays them in one easy to use and convenient interface. Users can easily flip through their articles with a flick of the finger and can also create and share their own magazines. I found Flipboard indispensible whilst preparing for my exams, as I could customize it to show me the latest articles or news related to the modules I was studying. Flipboard aggregates its content through a really large number of well known and reputable sources e.g. The Economist, BBC etc. and so it’s quite possible, that, with the right tuning, it will surprise you with some interesting news.

Evernote app provides an easy and convenient service for taking down notes. The notes can be text, photos or a voice memo and can contain webpage excerpts. A handy feature is the ability to dictate the note to your device and its voice recognition is quite accurate. It can also tell you your location on a map when you made the note using its Atlas feature. You can also set reminders that can be sent via email for important tasks. Notes can be edited, annotated, given comments, searched, exported to a notebook and shared with other users. All of this can be accessed using your free Evernote account (limited to 60 MB per month) from your handheld device or desktop computer.

Fahad Siddiqui