The Fat Girl’s (Updated) Guide to Smartphone (and iPad) Applications
New and improved apps for our always-evolving readers
When Toni wrote the original Fat Girl’s Guide to iPhone Applications last December, she noted that, despite the holdout status maintained by some of our more technophobic readers, the smartphone wasn’t going away. How right she was! In the eight months since that post ran at FGG, Apple has released both the iPhone 4 and the iPad, while the Motorola Droid has continued to explode in popularity and application offerings. We figured those three factors — not to mention the scads of new and updated apps on the market — warranted re-visiting the app stores to share some of the newest (or most addictive) ways these ubiquitous gadgets can enhance your life.
Note: Not all of our suggestions are designed or marketed specifically as apps for overweight women; most, in fact, have much broader appeal or aren’t weight-related. Consider this a roundup of helpful (or goofy) apps that we, as fat girls with active lifestyles, have enjoyed or coveted this year.
Apps for the hungry girl
Whether you’re in the kitchen or on the go, the Epicurious app helps take your cooking to a higher level by allowing you to search/browse/save/e-mail more than 30,000 recipes and create shopping lists. On the large screen of the iPad, the app becomes a stove-side cookbook with user-friendly layout and task progress bar. Best of all? Epicurious is free for both the iPad and iPhone and is newly available for Android mobile devices.
If you’re searching for a place to eat, both Yelp (free, user-generated reviews) and Zagat To Go (Zagat ratings for 40,000 restaurants, $3.99-$19.99) can help you decide where to nosh. Both apps command loyal followings based on their respective content, attitude and price, but if you have an iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry or Android mobile device, you can try them both and decide for yourself. And once you know where you’re going, reservations are a snap with OpenTable.
Loving the variety of fresh produce the summertime brings? The What’s Fresh app (for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) can tell you which fruits and vegetables are currently in season in your area (anywhere in the U.S.), or provide a calendar of when/where the item you’re craving will be in season. Currently selling for 99 cents (down from $1.99), this one’s a gimme for girls who love to shop locally and those of us looking to include more fresh fruits and veggies in our diets.
Apps for the active girl
We haven’t seen many specific fitness apps for plus-sized women out there, but girls of all activity levels can benefit from setting the simple goal of just trying to move more. Portable technology makes it easier than ever to track (and celebrate!) everything from the shortest walks with the dog to lengthy hikes, runs or rides.
Counting steps, measuring stride and tracking distance and calories burned all happens via iTreadmill’s quick, clean interface (99 cents for iPhone or iPod touch). And I was already addicted to MapMyRun.com, but the iMapMy fitness app is even more exciting. Different versions exist for BlackBerry, Android and Apple gadgets, but the upshot is that the GPS-enabled app provides route planning and tracking, training log and social network for everything from walking to running to cycling.
We know every girl has her favorite activity, and it would be impossible to tackle all of the corresponding app recommendations here. If you’re learning to get your yoga on, for example, you may dig 101 Yoga Poses app, free for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. And for girls who like to travel on two wheels, Bike Doctor ($1.99 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) provides diagnosis and step-by-step bike repairs so a flat tire doesn’t derail the whole commute.
Health and wellness apps
WebMD‘s free app (for iPhone and iPad) is an easy-to-use goldmine of medical info. In addition to expected features like a symptom checker and information on medical conditions, other cool components of this app include the ability to locate your nearest physician, hospital and pharmacy, and a tool that identifies prescriptions and over-the-counter pills by shape, color and imprint. And in addition to the numerous weather apps out there, some — like AccuWeather.com’s WeatherMD™ targets content to those with weather-affected ailments like asthma, arthritis and allergies.
Staying in touch with your own health is a little easier with the HeartWise app ($2.99) for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, which allows you to record and track trends in your blood pressure, resting heart rate and weight. We also love the simple, straightforward videos on iStretch, which offers yoga stretches designed to combat the effects of repetitive motion aches and pains on our office-dwelling bodies. Soon-to-be moms can even track and share every stage of pregnancy (“morning sickness: day 23!”) with free apps like I’m Expecting.
Apps for your lifestyle
Perfect for the commute, the doctor’s office waiting room, or the girl with eco-friendly reading habits, both iBooks (free for the iPad) and Amazon.com’s Kindle app (iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android) offer the ability to download and read books chosen from a library of thousands. While you’re at it, jot down notes for the upcoming book club meeting (or just sketch your Next Big Idea) with Evernote, a free app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that instantly syncs to your Mac or Windows desktop.
Pandora + portability = happy, happy ears. Seriously, if you haven’t yet used Pandora to build free, customized radio stations based on a genre, a group or even a single song, I want you to do three things: 1) Finish reading this article; 2) Download the free app to your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, BlackBerry or Android; and 3) Send FGG fan mail. Not sure how to complete any of those three steps? Check Howcast for a video guide on any topic you can dream up — it’s available free for Apple products, Blackberry and Android.
Whether your “must-have” news fix comes via NPR, the Associated Press or People magazine, there’s an app for that. And iPad users with a pop culture jones will appreciate the way Entertainment Weeky’s “Must List” comes to interactive life with the free app.
Counting pennies? SuperSaver.com (free for Apple products) shows you promotions and coupons available in your area, while iGasUp (same) will steer you toward the cheapest gas prices in any location. If you do the car share thing, the Zipcar iphone app is handy for finding and reserving a vehicle. It will even allow you to lock/unlock doors or beep the horn of your car — great for remembering where you parked! After saving some money, keep the warm fuzzies going by saving a little planet, too. The iRecycle app can help you figure out where and how to recycle everything from newspapers to cell phones, while informing you of eco-friendly gatherings in your area.
Finally, several friends swear by using textPlus to stay in touch and meet new people. Available for Apple products and Android, the app allows free, unlimited texts (including group texts) from any device. No more 30-minute conference calls to decide what movie to see. Everyone wins, truly.
Apps that deserve the iPad treatment
The iPad’s big, beautiful display is just begging to show movies. Netflix members can download the free app and stream full-length movies or their favorite TV series anywhere they choose. And fans of ABC can thank the network for its gorgeous streaming viewer, stocked with full-length episodes that can be paused and resumed as the mood strikes. Looking for a (free!) diversion but not sure what you want to watch? Dailymotion lets you search more than 13 million videos from channel selections that include TV, film, sports and music.
And while some apps could only be pulled off by an iPad-size screen (the instant ambiance — or camp factor — of Fireplace HD comes to mind), others can just flat-out blow you away when given more room to do their thing. Check out the updated iPad version of Star Walk constellation finder (which Toni mentioned last time) for, um, a stellar example.
Apps just for fun
Sure, a smartphone or iPad can make you more productive or change the way you experience media and information. But the gadget’s equally (if not more) important function is that of a sleek, pricey, grown-up toy. If you’re not yet playing Words With Friends or any of the Bejeweled games, I envy your restraint. And although I’ve yet to play it, the level of addiction reported by users of the crazy-popular puzzle game Angry Birds makes me glad. . . and itchy to see what the fuss is about.
Other fun ways to indulge your inner nerd: For 99 cents, Game Table turns your iPad into a variety of classic card and board games (checkers, chess, solitaire, poker). And Sporcle provides Apple users with a dizzying array of quizzes, trivia, games and “did you know?” lists for just $1.99.
For pure brain candy (no thinking required!), there’s an app for every ridiculous concept imaginable — all you need to do is Google. (Trust me on the ridiculous part — I have a friend who stubbornly refuses to admit that More Toast is anything other than sign of the apocalypse.)
A few ideas more compelling than toast: If you’re a child of the ’80s, like me, you can relive the days of Def Leppard and Debbie Gibson via the (free) Jamboxx app’s ’80s-inspired interface, which turns your iPad into an old-school, mix tape-making boom box. Nostalgialicious! And laugh if you want, but we dare you to play Bubble Snap (free for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) just once. There’s something inexplicably compelling and Zen-like about popping bubble wrap, whether virtually or in real-time — even without the high-score bragging rights at stake.
For me, the best part about smartphone apps is when someone taking a seemingly ordinary app and weaves it into her life in a fun and unusual way. My friend Chrissy uses iRaffle to settle disputes among her three boys. Fighting over the bionic Spiderman action figure? Punch all three kids’ names into the app and — bam! — two seconds later, there’s a winner. “I tell them you just can’t argue with science,” she says. I’m totally trying that next time we no one can pick a place for dinner.
Readers, tell us — what’s your favorite mobile application these days? How does it bring more fulfillment, variety or fun to your life?