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October 4, 2013

What the not-so-savvy techie should know about apps

If you are even moderately tech savvy, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “There should be an app for that.” If you aren’t tech savvy, you may not really know what an app is.

App is an abbreviation for application. An application is a piece of software that can run on the Internet, on your smart phone, on your computer, or on a mobile device (such as a tablet or laptop). Apps are designed to help the user perform specific tasks, and of course, seniors are no different than other users in their desire to have software programs that meet their needs. Some apps are free, others need to be purchased, and most devices have an icon that leads to the app store for that device. Google also has its own app store.

For seniors who travel, there are apps, such as Kayak or Priceline, with which they can shop for the best deals on tickets, hotels, rental cars, etc. These apps are available on Apple (iPhone, iPad) and Android operating systems. For foreign travelers, there are language learning and language translation apps. There’s even a free app for people who would like to learn American Sign Language.

As one might imagine, there are many health and fitness apps, for both mind and body. Some of the most popular games that the Facebook crowd uses to keep their brains active, as well as their bodies, can go mobile via apps. “Words with Friends” and “Candy Crush Saga,” like many of the game apps, are free to download, but you may need to enter your financial information, since they rely on the sale of game “boosts” that help players boost their scores or best their friends in a rivalry.

Even for those who don’t own a Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader, the free Kindle app, will enable users to download e-books and other entertainment to their own mobile devices. More than a million books, games, movies and magazines are available through the Kindle store.

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