With the Android’s recent passing of the iPhone as the most popular mobile phone operating system, more moms and dads are carrying an Android phone. With over 200,000 apps for the Android as of this writing (up from 100,000 only two months ago) the chances are that there will be an app available that will streamline your job as a parent.1
Hands-Free Phone Use
As parents, we’re constantly having to drop whatever we’re doing and help our kids with what they’re doing, whether it’s kissing boo-boos, keeping something from toppling over, or simply driving our kids somewhere. And many kids tend to think of parents as loving packhorses with wallets. So it’s helpful if you can control your phone using your voice, and especially so if you’re in the car.
One: Voice Actions (free)
This works with or without a Bluetooth headset, but with a headset it’s much more hands-free. Tell Voice Actions all kinds of things using your voice: “Find Papa Roux in Indianapolis, Indiana” will result in a map with Papa Roux on it. “Text Mike we’re going to be late” will result in a pane with the text message for you to approve with a tap. Ask it “What is the difference between red oak and white oak” and it will do a search for you. “Set the alarm for 4 o’clock” and it will. You can even tell it to open and close other apps! The number of things you can do with Voice Actions is higher than any other voice app.
One caveat: if you’re in a situation with a lot of background noise, like, say, kids squabbling in the back seat, the results it returns may not be what you were looking for. Saying “Find the closest Star-quit touching me I’m telling maw-om” will not necessarily produce a map to the nearest Starbucks.
Similar apps: Vlingo , Edwin, and Start Talking (all free)
Once your child is old enough for Scouts, ballet, and sports, it’s important but difficult to keep everyone’s schedules straight. And while there are some very nice systems to hang on your fridge, it doesn’t really help if you’re halfway across town when you realize you don’t remember if the kids’ concert is tonight or tomorrow.
Two: Cozi Calenders (free and paid versions)
The Cozi calendaring system does what almost no other system does, simply and easily: allows you to easily see your entire family’s schedule at a glance, while being able to track each person’s individual schedule. It does this by allowing you to assign each family member a color code. It allows you to set alarms and reminders, locations and recurring events, and notes. Requires a free account at cozi.com .
Out and About
This is one area where Android apps really shine. Many apps use the Barcode scanner app.
Three: Great Dad (free)
Great Dad is a great way to find activities and things to do with your kids based on where you are. Instead of searching, it will push ideas to you based on your location. No more finding out you drove a block away from a great museum your kids would have loved! Based on the Aloqa technology, another great app that includes both Great Dad but things like wine bars and more adult-oriented ideas. Began in major markets but expanding to smaller cities. Currently in English and German-speaking countries.
Four: Grocery IQ (free)
Grocery IQ has a multitude of functions. You can keep separate lists for different stores: for example, if you will buy olive oil and soy sauce nowhere else but Trader Joe’s, you can have a list just for Trader Joe’s. You can even sort the list by aisles! You can also use your barcode scanner to scan items to see if there are coupons available. Perhaps most importantly, if both you and your spouse have the app, you can share the lists you create. No more saying “Why did you get it there!?!”
Five: Key Ring Reward Cards (free)
Those little plastic keyring cards can get bothersome when you’re trying to get to your keys. They can also bend in half and break. While you can just give the clerk your phone number in many stores, why not use an app that can easily hold all of your cards? Includes the ability to use coupons some stores will allow you to load to your cards, and can also help you restore and print your cards in case you need a physical copy.
Six: Savvy Barcode Scanner (free)
Scan the item’s barcode, and Savvy Barcode Scanner will search other local shops as well as the Internet, providing a list of results with price and location. Can save you a lot of money and driving time very quickly, reducing frustration for both you and the kids who may be along for the ride.
The Witching Hour: for many families, dinnertime is the toughest part of the day. Everyone is tired and hungry. A good answer is to subscribe to a meal planning service, but there are also apps out there to help you if you want to plan your own.
Seven: Recipe Search (free)
While there are plenty of recipe collection apps in the Android Marketplace, this one allows you to search based on ingredients you know you have on hand, or you can browse categories. You can favorite recipes you like to find them again easily. Access to community forums–never wonder what aubergines are again. You can also share recipes with friends or the world at large.
Eight: First Aid (free)
Have the right information for emergencies right at your fingertips. Includes step-by-step illustrations and even short videos.
Nine: Safety Web (free)
Helps you know what your child is doing online, without spying. The app monitors your child’s online accounts and alerts you when there is any potentially dangerous activity. Requires an account with Safetyweb.com, which carries a monthly charge.
Ten: SpringPadIt (free)
Spring Pad allows you to search for and save all kinds of things, making it easy to find them later. In a bookstore and see the perfect book for your nephew’s birthday eight months from now? Take a picture of it or scan the barcode, and SpringPad will save it where you can find it later, and even give you search results about the item to give you more layers of information. It’s as if Evernote, another popular memory app, gave you all kinds of related results instead of just the one little thing you saved. Even save sound files and voice memos! Tag it and organize it any way you want. Requires free account at Springpadit.com , named one of the Top 50 Websites for 2010 by Time Magazine and winner of The Best Free Software by PC Magazine.2
And One to Grow On
A good bookreader
Reading to your child daily is one of the best indicators of future academic and professional success, even if your child is an older child and able to read himself. The shared experience of reading good books increases bonding and trust, and builds memories and knowledge.
There are millions of books available, both free and paid, in various formats.
Many books are only available for the Kindle from Amazon. But download the free app for Kindle, and you can access your Kindle library without having a Kindle! There is also the Nook app from Barnes & Noble.
Apps like the Cool Reader, Aldiko Book Reader and Moon Reader handle a wider variety of formats so that it’s a good idea to install one of the proprietary ones (or both) and one of the multi-format ones so that you can read any book with your kids wherever you are.
Products you may be interested in: