Price: $14.99/year for unlimited content
Before Google or Wikipedia were even thought of, Encyclopaedia Britannica was the go-to resource for information. The Britannica app provides access to more than 80,000 authoritative articles, covering almost any subject. The free version provides 100-word samples of each article, and a subscription grants full access. CC issue Jul/Aug 2012.
If you’re looking to keep your plants and veggies happy this summer, this app will help you water them just the right amount for optimum results. It tells you how often to water and for how long, for your particular location and garden type.
It also shows local rainfall history to help with programming sprinkler systems – great for when water restrictions hit. CC issue Jan/Feb 2012.
Learner Driver Recorder
Every kilometre counts to a learner driver trying to get up the 120 hours needed (in Victoria and NSW) to gain a full licence, but keeping a manual logbook that takes into account all those extra little trips can be a pain. The LDR app helps track and record every driving second and even maps where you’ve been. It’s not an official replacement for the written logbook yet, but it’s a step down that road. An Android version is in the works, too. CC issue Jan/Feb 2012.
Platform: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Need to get some work done around the home? Don't reach for the Yellow Pages, grab your iPhone and download the free PickAQuote app. It lets you post the details of your job for tradesman and business, to help you find competitive quotes to do the work. The clever built-in PhotoMeasure tool uses the iPhone's camera help you measure up for any building work. If, on the other hand, you're a tradesman or business you can use PickAQuote to bid for jobs listed once you've registered with the site and been checked out as qualified. CC issue Sept/Oct 2011.
Australia Post Mobile
Platform: iPhone and iPad.
Forget paying for separate apps to find postcodes or calculate postage costs, now Australia Post has its own free app for iPhone similar to its website (www.auspost.com.au). The app also lets you track parcels and pay your bills, while the Find Us feature uses your current location (via GPS) to pinpoint your nearest Post Office, street post box or street Express Post box. It’s like having a mail man in your pocket. Sept/Oct 2010.
Food Advisor Australia
The Food Watch NSW app caused a stir when it first appeared, outing restaurants that had been penalised by the NSW Food Authority. Now called Food Advisor Australia, its scope has widened to include food news articles and to even let you browse restaurants and order food pickup or delivery directly within the app via the Menulog service (www.menulog.com.au). The app lets you check the GE (genetically engineered) status of restaurants and many food and drink brands. And, of course, you can still use the GPS to see via listing or map which food establishments near you have had violations. Sept/Oct 2010.
NavFree Live Australia and New Zealand
Platform: iPhone 3G/3GS/4 and iPad/2
If you’ve been waiting for a free iPhone GPS app, NavFree Live Australia & New Zealand now offers totally free turnby-turn navigation, though you will have to pay for in-app extras such as $5 for the ad-free version. Other promised in-app purchases include speed camera locations, local petrol prices and traffic information. The app includes full maps stored on the phone, so you don’t have to rely on mobile network coverage. A Social Location feature lets users navigate to each other and share their position via SMS, Email, Twitter and Facebook. Community-based map updates are also free. More info at www.navmii.com. CC issue May/June 2011.
Sophos Mobile Security
If you have an Android phone or tablet you need security software. This free antivirus app scans apps as you install them, using up-to-the-minute information from SophosLabs to help avoid undesirable software that can lead to data loss and unexpected costs. If your device goes missing, the remote lock capability can also protect your personal information. CC issue Nov/Dec 2012.
Google Chrome browser
Platform: iPhone, iPad, Android
If you prefer Google’s Chrome web browser on your desktop computer you might also want the new mobile version on your phone or tablet. You can use the Chrome Sync feature to share your desktop bookmarks, history and tabs. Chrome also has Incognito mode for private browsing, but the iOS version of Chrome isn’t noticeably faster than the default Safari browser. CC issue Sept/Oct 2012.
Based on the ideal that you can never have too much screen space, DisplayPad lets you turn your iPad into an extra screen for your desktop or laptop computer, using your Wi-Fi connection. DisplayPad extends your computer desktop area so you can simply drag windows from your main screen to the iPad. It works in portrait or landscape mode and also lets you use the iPad's touch display for selection and data entry. DisplayPad is a cheaper alternative to other display-extension apps such as Air Display and MaxiVista (both about $10) but all require a small program to run on your Mac or Windows computer. CC issue Nov/Dec 2011.
Price: $3.99 iPhone; $5.99 iPad
Platform: iPhone, iPad
Users of iOS devices no longer have to put up with not being able to view Flash video on web pages thanks to Skyfire. It supports Flash video on many, but not all, web pages. It also integrates well with social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter, as well as letting you load either the desktop version or the mobile version of a web page and even allows multi-tab browsing. However, Skyfire doesn’t support Flash games or web apps. March/April 2011.
Platform: iPhone, iPod Touch
Consume is a very handy one-stop-shop for keeping track of your usage for mobile phone, broadband, toll cards, reward cards, courier tracking, frequent flyer and other loyalty points. It supports more than 100 suppliers in Australia and New Zealand including major telcos, ISPs, couriers and loyalty reward systems. Enter your suppliers’ details in the app and with one click you can get an up-to-date status page for all of them telling you where you’re at, and how long before you reach a cap. An iPad-specific version is in the works. Jan/Feb 2011.
Hard of hearing? I said… HARD OF HEARING? SoundAMP R lets you use your iPhone and earbuds as a discreet hearing aid. The app “listens” using the built-in microphone and amplifies the sound, with control over volume and balance. You can also set it to multitask so you can continue listening while using other apps. Great for watching TV without waking the neighbours, as well as in lectures, noisy coffee shops and parties. You can also record what you hear for later listening, so you don’t miss any important information. James Bond would love this app for unobtrusive eavesdropping but, of course, we’re sure CC readers would only use SoundAMP R in the most ethical manner. Sept/Oct 2010.