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Mobile Apps

Wednesday App Review: Simple Weather Alert

I live in what is charmingly referred to as “Tornado Alley” and while we don’t get tornadoes as often as that moniker suggests, having a good weather alert app is absolutely essential here and in many other parts of the country. To that end, the app Simple Weather Alert is one of my current favorite weather apps because, well, it’s simple.

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Wednesday App Review: Prism

Bills suck. They are, without a doubt, the worst part of being an adult. Unfortunately, however, they are also something that you sort of have to deal with at some point or other. While a lot of it can be done online, that leaves you with dozens of different passwords and websites to keep track of, and you’re just left up to your own devices when it comes to remembering due dates. The app Prism, however, is designed to help with all of that.

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Wednesday App Review: Sara Is Missing

Your average person stores a ridiculous amount of personal information on their smartphone. Everything from photos to messages, call history, and sometimes even passwords and important accounts are just sitting on that phone, hiding behind a locked screen. But what would you do if you found the phone of a missing person, and started getting creepy messages on it? Would you investigate and look through their private things in order to try and find them? That’s the concept behind Sara Is Missing.

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Wednesday App Review: Brain It On!

Physics puzzle games are interesting not only because they require you to think differently, but because having to simulate strict laws of physics for action/reaction puzzles is quite challenging. While there is absolutely no shortage of physics puzzlers out there, Brain It On! is probably one of the better ones I’ve played.

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Wednesday App Review: Allrecipes Dinner Spinner

The struggle to figure out what to make for dinner is nearly constant at my house. So, the Allrecipes Dinner Spinner, created by the owners of the popular website Allrecipes, seemed to be exactly the sort of cooking app that I needed. And while I can definitely see the benefits, I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

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Wednesday App Review: 8th Continent

It’s probably pretty apparent that I absolutely love choose your own adventure style games, but they are actually pretty hard to do well. I’ve reviewed several of them in the past, and they all tend to have the same flaws: namely, that they cost too much money and are too limited. The interactive novel 8th Continent, however, fixes both of these issues.

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Wednesday App Review: One More Brick

One of the most classic and beloved arcade games involves brick breaking, where you have to manipulate a ball around the screen to shatter all of the bricks and earn points. I’ve always loved those games, and so this week I decided to review the app One More Brick, created by Rifter Games Ltd.

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Wednesday App Review: I Love Hue

I have always enjoyed art and colors, although I’m not really all that good. My mother is an art teacher, even, so whenever I see games which revolve around color I am instantly intrigued. However, frequently I find that the games involving color are either ridiculously easy or ridiculously difficult with few falling in that sweet spot. The app game I Love Hue falls in that sweet spot.

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Wednesday App Review: Shadowmatic

Shape games are normally only for small children. However, the game Shadowmatic from Triada Studio Games is a new and refreshing take on the traditional puzzle game. Originally released on Apple devices in 2015, the game has finally made its way over to Android, so I thought I would go ahead and do a review for all our Android fans who have been missing out.

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Wednesday App Review: DuoLingo

Learning a second language is an incredibly valuable skill. Although schools require students to take at least a few classes in a foreign language (usually Spanish or French), very few Americans are bilingual. Fortunately, learning a language isn’t actually something that you have to go to school for and there are plenty of apps which are designed to help with this. One of the most popular is DuoLingo and I decided to give it a try.

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Wednesday App Review: Cooking Fever

I have something of an addiction to time management games. I’m not really sure what it is about them, but I just love the challenge. I have played dozens of different ones from Flash games like Papa’s Pizzeria to actual computer games like Cake Mania, and even Nintendo DS games. However, I tend to stay away from cooking time management apps because they always cost a fortune. Cooking Fever, advertised as actually free, I thought might be an exception. While it’s not as bad as some, it definitely isn’t free.

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Wednesday App Review: King of Thieves

Platformers are easily one of my favorite kinds of games. I like that they require a bit more thinking than just shooting something, and they are often based heavily on timing and solving puzzles. However, most platformer apps are actually fantastically terrible and frustrating. While King of Thieves is definitely frustrating at times, it is one of the few apps that I intend to continue to play after my review is written.

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Wednesday App Review: Dotello

While I enjoy matching games, I have always thought that they were a little on the boring side. After all, it’s the same basic problem repeated over and over and over. Regardless as to the challenge, eventually I tend to get fed up with such things. Dotello, however, is a slightly different take on your traditional matching game, and the added elements make this a great little puzzle game.

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Wednesday App Review: Egg, Inc.

Incremental games, when scaled properly, can be some of the most fun time-wasting games there are. A really good incremental game, like Egg, Inc., will appeal to both casual players and more experienced incremental players. Personally, I tend to fall in the former category, but I can definitely see the appeal of this clever little game.

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FAQ: How Do You Hide Apps?

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Unless you purchased your device straight from the phone manufacturer, chances are it probably came with a handful of useless apps and services I tend to refer to as “bloatware.” While you can disable apps, sometimes an app simply cannot be disabled or you need it but don’t really want it showing up in your app drawer. When that happens, you can simply hide it.

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Wednesday App Review: Word Cookies

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As a writer, I love words. They’re fascinating and interesting and I’ve spent a good portion of my life making money by using them. So, obviously, I have a pretty good vocabulary. Despite this, I’ve actually never been very good at word scrambles. I think my brain just tries to find all of the words at once. Despite this, I decided to give Word Cookies a try.

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Wednesday App Review: Zen Koi

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In Chinese culture, there is a myth about a koi fish who, despite all odds, leapt to the top of a waterfall and was turned into a dragon by the gods, who admired its persistence. This myth is the basis of the collector game Zen Koi. While normally I’m not really that into collector games—I simply don’t have the patience, generally speaking—this game surprised me.

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Wednesday App Review: Choices

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When I was a kid I absolutely loved reading the “choose your own adventure” style books. Something about being able to control the character (and sometimes prevent them from doing something incredibly stupid) was kind of exciting to me. However, I’ve generally avoided apps that are similar as they usually seem to be aimed at pre-teen girls, and most look like in-app purchase hogs. But, this week, I decided to take the leap and try the app Choices by Pixelberry Studios. And I have to say that it wasn’t entirely what I expected.

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Wednesday App Review: Tap Tap Dash

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Endless runner games, to me, are kind of outdated. Temple Runner was extremely popular and I don’t think there was a person with a smartphone who didn’t try their hand at it at least once. I know I did, and I’m normally not a big fan of time-wasting games. Since then, there haven’t really been any games that I felt really captured the same fun and challenging atmosphere. Most of them ramped up the difficulty either too quickly or too slowly, resulting in a game that was virtually unenjoyable. Tap Tap Dash, however, is the perfect mix of fun and challenging, and I’d say would give any app in its genre a run for its money.

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Wednesday App Review: Tap Titans

I’ve never been a huge fan of tap games. There are a few exceptions, of course, but overall I find them a little tedious. However, after reading the fantastic reviews on the mobile game Tap Titans, I decided to download it to see what the fuss is about. And, around 70 levels later, I still don’t understand what everyone is talking about.

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Super Mario Run Coming to Android Devices Soon

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Apple fans of Nintendo’s most intrepid plumber have had the opportunity to swipe, jump, and run their way through more levels, saving the princess, and collecting mushrooms since mid December. However, Android fans have been forced to wait for the popular app to hit Google Play. And, while a release date hasn’t been announced, Android users have a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Wednesday App Review: God of Light

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While I love physics games, they can sometimes be a little repetitive. I mean… repetitiveness is sort of inherent in the genre. There are only so many things you can do in a game that is based on rigid physics, and while the puzzles can be pretty challenging, after a certain point they lose their charm. However, despite this, the physics game God of Light from Playmous is a solid physics puzzler sure to challenge anyone.

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Wednesday App Review: Pixel Dungeon

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I was never really into video games much when I was a kid, but I have an older brother who was a huge fan. I used to sit on his bed and draw or read while he played his NES games and, most of the time, I’d end up spending more time watching him play (and cheering on the bad guys) than anything else. So, pixel games will always hold a special place in my heart and it should come as no surprise that Pixel Dungeon has become my latest obsession.

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Wednesday App Review: Fast like a Fox

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Although I enjoy many different types of games, I have to admit that my favorite genre has always been platformer games. There’s just something about the challenge of it that I enjoy. It’s a mix of problem-solving and skill, and the graphics are usually pretty sweet too. And, I’m pleased to report that Fingersoft’s app Fast like a Fox is not an exception to this at all.

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Wednesday App Review: Mekorama

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Generally speaking, I don’t normally pay too much attention to the lists of the top apps of the year that you can find on the Google Play Store and the Apple Store. I always sort of suspect that those apps are really chosen based partially on monetary purposes, and partially on downloads. And let’s be honest… if something like Flappy Bird can get hundreds of thousands of downloads, then is going with the popular majority really even worth the time? However, despite my better judgment I downloaded Mekorama from the Top Apps of 2016 list, and I was immensely pleased with it.

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Wednesday App Review: Parallyzed

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Doing this weekly segment, I have played a lot of app games. Some of them are awesome, and some of them are not. And, generally speaking, I don’t review the games that I find to be unenjoyable. This means that sometimes I’ll try three or four apps before I find one I want to write about. This is because I understand that games are widely dependent on the right kinds of users, and I try and take that into account when I’m trying out something new. I wouldn’t want to bash something great simply because it’s not my style. However, for the app Parallyzed, I am going to make an exception. Not because the game was actually bad, but because of how much I hated the way the game (even the paid version) handled ads.

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Wednesday App Review: Polyforge

I am a sucker for games that are both simple and elegant. Most of the time when I am playing a game, I want something that is easy to pick up, hard to put down, and either requires a lot of thought or none at all. And, since my mother is an art teacher, I tend to gravitate towards games that are just plain pretty. Polyforge meets all of those requirements and then some.

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Wednesday App Review: Imago

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I am a huge fan of puzzle and strategy games. I love using my brain to find out different tactics to help me get through a set of obstacles. With that being said, most puzzle games such as the various versions of 2048, are fairly simple to play with not a lot of depth. This new game I downloaded, Imago, is a variety of puzzle games rolled into one.

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Wednesday App Review: IFTTT

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IFTTT? Bless you. Just kidding— IFTTT stands for IF This Then That, a productivity app with a very simple description: “IF connects the apps you love.” The interesting name, plain description, and 4-star rating caught my attention. So I downloaded.

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Wednesday App Review: Plague, Inc.

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I never thought I would have so much fun strategically killing millions. Don’t worry, it was all in the name of fun.

Plague, Inc. has been one of my favorite games for a while now, and it always surprises me how few know about it! It is available for 99 cents on Apple’s app store and for free on Google Play, but the entertainment is easily worth the dollar. Probably based around the board game Pandemic, Plague is a game that will make you strategize to achieve one final objective: to wipe out the entire world with a disease you create—which is actually quite daunting!

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Apple’s First Android App Wants Users to Switch

Apple debuted its first Android app a couple of weeks ago (provided you don’t count Beats, which was already established when Apple bought it) and, unsurprisingly, it’s an app designed for users looking to make the switch from Android to Apple. Shockingly, Android users were not pleased.

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Wednesday App Review: Star Tracker

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I grew up in the country and when you live five or six miles away from the nearest city, the amount of stars that you can see with the naked eye on a clear night is absolutely stunning. I mean, there are more stars than you could possibly count. Because of this I have always been a huge fan of star gazing, although I never really learned to identify all that many constellations. So, needless to say, when I discovered the Star Tracker app, I was absolutely enthralled.

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Wednesday App Review: ColorNote

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I am a huge fan of writing things down. From sticky notes to loose pages with scribbled notes and checklists, my desk and the walls around it are adorned with dozens of notes and lists and reminders for everything from groceries to article deadlines and random dates for some event or other. It gets pretty crazy pretty quickly, so I decided to look for a good equivalent and discovered ColorNote.

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Wednesday App Review: Framed

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I have to admit that I am a huge fan of those old noir films with the grizzled private investigators, the dirty crooks and the clever and seductive ladies.There’s just something so fun about that era, and the app Framed has managed to capture all of that in a unique comic strip puzzle game. But, as cool as it is, don’t go buy it just yet.

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Wednesday App Review: Password Manager

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In today’s digital age, it seems like everything requires a password. And while we all know that the most secure solution is to have a separate password for each account, in reality most people opt for the simplicity of using the same password for everything. Believe me, I’m guilty of it too. But the better and more secure solution is to use a password manager app. Of course, there’s no shortage of those and finding a good one can be quite a challenge.

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Wednesday App Review: Godville

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When you get right down to it, most fantasy games are basically the same. You create a hero, go kill stuff and collect loot so you can level up your hero to kill bigger things. That’s basically all there is to many games, and it can get dull and boring after a while. Godville, however, is not that kind of RPG. In fact, you don’t actually have to do anything at all, and strangely enough, it’s the most fun I’ve had playing an RPG in a long time.

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Wednesday App Review: F-Secure App Permissions

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I am sure that everyone has, at one point or another, downloaded an app without bothering to really pay much attention to the permissions requirements listed on the download page. Just like the privacy policy or terms of service on pretty much every website in which you have an account, app permissions tend to take a backseat. We just want to download the app, okay? But, what if you miss something important?

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List and Explanation of Pre-installed Google Apps

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Bloatware is the worst, and there is no one as guilty of pre-loading your phone with tons of random apps than Google. Personally, whenever I get a new device the first thing I do is go through and disable about 2/3 of these mostly useless apps. Recently, Google announced that it was pairing down some of the required apps, but that isn’t helpful for the phones that already have these apps locked in.

However, not everyone is likely to agree that all of them are useless and some of you might just find a few of these apps helpful. So to help you decide which apps to disable and which to keep, here are some of the most common Google Apps that you probably got preinstalled, along with what they do: 

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Wednesday App Review: Colorfy

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I have always thought that whoever it was that decided that coloring books were only for children was probably a very, very sad and boring person. Studies have shown that coloring can seriously help decrease stress and let’s face it–who isn’t stressed in today’s crazy fast-paced world? Why aren’t we all coloring way more often? Besides, it’s kind of fun, and as much as I never thought that I’d download a coloring app, the app Colorfy is probably one of the most adult-focused and fun coloring apps out there.

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Amazon App Store Sales

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Well, it looks like Amazon has debuted another round of free app sales this week with some pretty great titles. There doesn’t seem to be a specific end date to this sale so I might recommend you take advantage of it sooner rather than later.

Here is the list of apps you can get for free, along with their usual prices:

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Wednesday App Review: MyFitnessPal

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Today I’m going to talk about the rather popular calorie counter and all around fitness app MyFitnessPal. And, to break with the tradition of app reviews like this, I’m not going to try and sell you that I lost a ton of weight using this one magical application (Because, well, I didn’t) and I’m not going to tell you that it will solve all of your problems and suddenly make you look like Chris Hemsworth or Scarlett Johansson (It won’t. I wish I could say it would). However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a look.

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Wednesday App Review: Deemo

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I love piano music. I’ve always been something of a sucker for it and took several years of piano lessons when I was much younger. I can only do the absolute basics now though (and let me tell you, I can ROCK “Mary had a Little Lamb” on the piano). Anyway, the music rhythm game Deemo focuses strongly on the piano and has a surprisingly engaging storyline mixed in with some really beautiful songs and a great interface. In short, I simply cannot stop playing it.

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FAQ: How to Download the Amazon App Store

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It continually amazes me how many people are completely unaware that Amazon, in addition to having plenty of physical goods for sale, offers apps for Android phones to download. In fact, the company hosts a free app every day and is how I gained several of my favorite apps (and plenty of apps I never use).

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6 Essential Tools for Every Smartphone

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Smartphones are, at their most basic, tools. But, depending on your device it’s likely that your phone is lacking at least some of the most basic (and to me essential) tools like a calculator, microphone, notepad and more. My phone, which is a flagship, is missing a voice recorder and a QR Scanner. My friend’s device doesn’t have a built-in calculator.

So, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the most basic tools that all smartphones ought to have, along with links to my favorite tried-and-tested Android apps.

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Wednesday App Review: Wish

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When it comes to shopping, I am rather atypical. I don’t generally care for wandering aimlessly through malls and I am not really big into just browsing though random shopping apps or websites. Unless I need something, I don’t usually go shopping. However, the shopping app Wish makes the tediousness of wandering through the mall or browsing through an app incredibly simple and even kind of fun.

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Google Play, iTunes Discount Apps

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Free is undoubtedly the best price, but deeply discounted is almost as good. Apple and Google have both lowered the prices on dozens (or in Apple’s case, hundreds) of apps to $1 from whatever their original prices were. Many of these apps are actually very popular games and some of them are priced anywhere from $2 – $10 regularly.

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Wednesday App Review: Lifeline

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There are some games whose stories just stick with you. I think there is a kind of magical combination of storytelling, suspense, intrigue and excitement that makes a game–no matter the platform–really memorable, and I can say with confidence that Lifeline has all of that. It has it in spades.

Set up as a very clever choose your own adventure game, Lifeline is entirely text-based and involves messages from a stranded astronaut named Taylor who needs your advice and help. At various points in the game, you will have two options with the goal to try and help Taylor survive on the unforgiving unidentified planet after the crash of the Varia, a ship on which Taylor was working as a scientist.

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WifiMapper Launches on Android

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Prepaid plans and phones are all about freedom and low prices. It’s pretty common to see prepaid phones include some kind of Wifi calling, and many companies provide wifi only plans for customers who don’t need to connect away from wifi. Of course, those plans tend to be a little limiting. What if you’re traveling cross-country? What if you are out for a day on the town and need to call someone? Well, rather than driving all over trying to find a free wifi hotspot, WifiMapper is designed to help users keep track and find new hotspots.

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Wednesday App Review: City 2048

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Despite my love of puzzle games I never really got into the whole 2048 craze that everyone else I know did. I mean, all those little tiles with numbers that you have to match together? No, thank you. It’s like Sudoku. Deep down, I know there is no real math involved, but half of me keeps expecting an equation to pop up at any point. It’s nervewracking. Fortunately, City 2048 features next to no numbers but does have a plethora of adorable little pastel city tiles. How could you say no to that?

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5 Google App Tips and Tricks

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Google is everywhere. The technology corporation has expanded and become a household name (even a verb in the dictionary) and there’s a better than 50% chance that you have a host of Google’s apps on your phone right now. But, in the nature of all tech companies, Google is constantly changing and updating and making little tweaks to its app suite which your average user probably is completely unaware.

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