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The Fat Girl's Guide to iPhone Applications
Posted by Toni in Fun Stuff,Health + Beauty
I realize that not everyone owns an iPhone, or even wants to. But one look around any public space and you'll notice that like it or not, the smartphone is here to stay. The good news: the technology is rapidly advancing in terms of performance and the array of inexpensive downloads (known as "applications," or "apps") available to users. These babies are only going to get better, faster, and able to perform more tasks to simplify and amplify our lives. Even if you have no immediate plans to purchase an iPhone, there are some good web sites associated with some of these apps that are worth checking out.

Shopping - Red Laser is the first app I discovered (thanks to my friend Jennifer) that made me feel like the new millennium had finally arrived. Sure, we don't have jetpacks or flying cars (yet), but we can use our phones to scan stuff to compare prices! That's close, right? Okay maybe not, but still . . . it's a simple, cool, useful app you can use to instantly comparison shop in ways we've never really been able to do before. The down side: it only compares prices among a set amount of retailers, but I'd watch for this one to expand. For groceries, Grocery IQ and Shopper are handy grocery list apps (I use Shopper but wish it had a menu planning function) and Relish has a seriously delicious-looking app for meal planning and shopping (and making our foodie columnist Michelle drool) and Big Oven has a free app that lets you browse their burgeoning recipe database.

Nutrition & Fitness Tracking - Not all of our readers are looking to lose weight, but for those who are, the SparkPeople iPhone app received props from our readers when we gave a shout-out for faves on Twitter. Membership on SparkPeople is free, and it works a lot like Weight Watchers, My Food Diary, and other sites that allow you to track food intake and exercise - and it's free! (We love that!). Speaking of Weight Watchers, members can take their points with them via the Weight Watchers Mobile app, which is also free.

Health & Wellness - hLog is a comprehensive app that tracks your overall health, including medications, sleep cycles, and other information.  GoMeals helps diabetics track nutritional information, find nearby restaurants, and record daily food intake. Diabetes Pilot allows users to record blood glucose levels, insulin doses, and produces trends summarizing your diabetes care. There are even apps to track your menstrual cycles - yes, really. For time zone and otherwise numerically challenged people like me, this is ideal (though I just circle the date on my wall calendar). iPeriod estimates your future periods and also helps you predict ovulation, for girls who are trying to conceive. New millennium, indeed. ShapeWriter is a company dedicated to making typing easier and more intuitive. For those of us with tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, having easier ways to type that put less stress on overused tendons is definitely worth considering. Finally, I use Ambiance daily for relaxation while meditating and background music while working, and there are tons of white noise sounds to help you get to sleep.

Good Eats - Urban Spoon offers city-specific restaurant recs, and I love the simplicity of TripAdvisor's Local Picks. And not to tempt you Starbucks addicts too much, but they have two positively dreamy apps: one to find the nearest 'bux and another to record the balance on your Starbucks card. Hello Vino is a free app that pairs the perfect wine with whatever you're dining on at the moment.

Just for Fun - I may have an addiction to Words with Friends (a Scrabble knockoff with a social networking twist) and Crosswords, but they're relatively healthy and inexpensive brain workouts compared to my former Starbucks jones. The Gratitude Journal and Vision Board apps are not only a blast to use, but they're a perfect way to kick off a new year by giving thanks and dreaming big. I included this one just for Tee: Star Walk is a stargazing guide that shows phases of the moon, meteor showers, and constellations. Tell me that isn't fun! And just today, I just discovered the Lego Photo app, which instantly turns your photos you into bright plastic brick works of art - for free.

Before You Buy - Talk to your friends and ask them about their favorite apps - a fun rite of passage for new iPhone owners. You'll be sure to get an earful and/or an inbox filled with suggestions. A quick shout-out on Twitter (using Tweetie2, my favorite Twitter app) asking people for their favorite apps related to any topic under the sun will net you at least a few good responses. Also, read reviews before you buy and write them afterward; developers want to keep customers coming back and will listen to your requests for tweaks and additions. Finally, many apps associated with social media sites are free - like the flickr and Facebook applications, allowing you to bring your friends with you wherever you go.

So, girls: dish on your favorite iPhone apps, fat-girl-specific or not. And from all of us at FGG, have a wonderful new year!