There really is an app for most things in life

2016-05-12 18:33:00
By Mike Smothers, Contributing writer
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Last evening my wife and I attended the Bruce Munro Sonoran Light show exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden and if you have not been, I highly suggest you try to make it there this week as the show ends Mother’s Day, May 8. We arrived when it was still light so we could walk around the garden and see all the plants in bloom. As we were walking, I overhead a woman asking her companion what the name of a certain plant was. They were unable to name the plant so I offered to help with an app on my phone called Garden Answers which works by taking a picture of the plant, analyzing it for a few seconds and then sending the name and information of the plant back to my phone. The gentleman with her was amazed and even said, “I thought I had seen it all! I cannot believe there is an app for naming a plant.” It got me thinking about all the incredible applications or apps that are created to help people in their everyday lives and how we can all benefit from these.

Many seniors are intimidated by smartphones and are reluctant to try new things or use the features available but thankfully, there are a number of apps to help. Silverline has a free app that displays some of the most widely used features on the home screen of your phone like camera, contacts, medication, location, emergency, learn and well-being. Tap any of these large icons for help in using that particular function of the phone. Simple Senior Phone is an Android app to help seniors and is designed with larger icons for those with sight impairments. The large icons on the home screen include calculator, torch, which is a powerful light, locate and magnifier. Other screens include call, text, locate and SOS along with many other large icons. Both of these apps have basic programs that are free along with add on features that may or may not cost extra. The SOS feature will send an emergency alert to whomever you wish in the event of an emergency to get help. Text messaging, calling and writing emails are made much easier with these apps. Other apps made for seniors or visually impaired persons are Big Launcher, which is $10, Large Launcher, which is free and a highly rated app called Necta, which is also free. Some of these apps are made for iPhone, some for Android and some are available for both kinds of phones. The cool thing about these apps is if you do not like them, simply uninstall and try another.

After being checked out at a local grocery store, I was shocked at the total I had spent for three bags of groceries and I knew there had to be a smarter way to shop. I downloaded a number of bar code reader apps and did a little comparison shopping. I tried Red Laser, ShopSavvy and QR Scanner and right away found that many of the items I purchased were store brands and were unavailable at other stores so the apps were useless for these items but the items that were listed on these apps gave me a list of other stores to purchase the same item and their corresponding prices. One item was over $2 higher at the store I was shopping as compared to other stores close by. The app I liked the best was ShopSavvy because it had more of the items I purchased and gave a larger number of alternative stores. The other apps may be designed for clothing or hardware items like electronics and home improvement items.

There is evidence that if you do not exercise your brain it tends to atrophy or as one doctor explained, “get lazy” and not work as well as it should. Luminosity is an app that provides daily exercise for your brain and is available for phones or tablets. Luminosity starts with basic exercises to determine your likes and dislikes, level of brain activity and what exercises may help keep you sharp. Every day you can log on and try the exercises. Although there are differing opinions on the benefits of using this app, I believe it is a fun way to keep your mind active and healthy.

The WebMD is an app that I believe is very beneficial for finding drug complications, when you should consult a physician and many other medical needs. Medisafe helps keep track and manage your medications. If you wear hearing aids, ReSound will allow you to control volume as well as bass and treble of your hearing aids with your smartphone and if you lose your hearing aids, ReSound will help you find them. One of my favorite apps is Magnifying glass with Light that helps find items in dimly lit places and also is great for reading a book in a dimly lit room.

The list of apps seems endless and if you have a specific want and would like help finding an app that may be beneficial, please email or call me and I will do my best to help you find one. As one of the marketing slogans proclaims, “There’s an app for that!”

- Ahwatukee resident Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Repair Services. Send questions to or call 480-753-7667.

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