The Android OS has recently overtaken the iPhone system as the top smartphone, with more people owning Android phones than any other smartphone. 1 Once thought of as the phone of choice for computer geeks, Android-based phones are made by many companies and available on many carriers. They’re even available as pre-paid phones on Virgin Mobile USA and Metro. They’re now for everyone, including busy moms and dads. Because Android is an Open Source code system, the number of apps available has skyrocketed, with over 18,000 apps now available in the Android Market, and more coming daily. There is likely an app to help with every area of your life, but we’ll look at just a few that can help with being a better parent.
One: Pregnancy Assistant (free)
Enter the date of your last menstrual period, and each week, you’ll see new information on what’s happening that week and intrauterine photos of what your baby might look like.
Two: Contraction Calculator (free)
Start timing when your water breaks, and you can simply tap when contractions start and stop (or perhaps someone else should be holding your phone). A great help in seeing the progression of labor.
For Parents of Young Infants
Three: Baby Care (free)
Helps you track when your baby eats, sleeps, and poops–the main things a new baby is able to do! You can make notes, like “took left side but fell asleep before finishing right”, or even make diary-style notes, and share with friends and family. You can also use it to record growth statistics like weight and height.
Four: Camera Wifi Livestream Demo (free; paid version available)
Turn your Android phone into a video monitor! Streams from your phone to your web browser. Can also be used as a surveillance monitor.
Five: Color Flashlight (free)
Has many settings, but one is a soft light candle so you can see in the dark without waking your baby.
One of the strengths of the Android system is the ability to operate the phone hands-free. This can be a literal life-saver when dealing with young babies and children. Your hands will frequently be occupied even if you follow the traditional and sensible babycare route of using a baby wrap or sling and nursing your child, reducing many hassles and numbers of things to carry. Being able to operate your phone without having to look at it or touch it much is a wonderful feature of the Android.
Six: Voice Actions (free)
Use your voice to control your phone! Works with Google’s Voice Search, which searches the Internet for you, but allows you to also send texts, check the weather, voice dial, check news and more.
Seven: VLingo Virtual Assistant (free)
Similar to Voice Actions, but ties into more services. Uses natural language, like “Tell Max to pick up more diapers”, which will send a text, voicemail or email to Max, depending on your settings. A new feature is the Action Bar, which currently ties into Fandango (movie tickets), KAYAK (trip tickets) and OpenTable (restaurant reservations), with more coming. You can even set alarms with your voice using VLingo!
As parents, our resources are often strained, and it can be a hat trick to both have our offspring in tow while we try to save money. There are many excellent shopping apps, but the must-have one for parents is
Eight: Grocery IQ (free).
So many features make this one of the very top apps for the Android. Create lists; share them; use your barcode scanner to find coupons and deals. Edit and save items by aisle and store, so that you can send your list to whomever is doing that crucial shopping the first week or so after the baby is born, and they can pick up your items for you with minimum hassle, without the cost of delivered groceries (there are apps for those, too). Even update your list with your barcode scanner on your phone when you use up the last of the coffee.
Nine: Toddler Lock (free; donate $1-$2 versions available)
Keep your toddler from unlocking your phone and accidentally starting apps or bricking your phone. Interesting graphics keep littles busy, thinking they’re doing something, while the phone’s true capabilities are safely stashed away.
And the final Top 10 Android App for new parents:
Ten: Time Flies (free)
Once you’re actually holding your little bundle of joy, you’ll see how very true this old adage really is. And it flies so quickly it’s easy to forget things like hair cuts, cleaning out the gutters, keeping track of how old seldom-used spices really are, and when you last changed the litterbox. This app has a simple interface. Enter something you just did, and the app starts a timer for that item. You can then check the app later and see that Yikes! It’s been 8 weeks since my last haircut!
What Android apps have you found useful? Answer in the comments below.
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