It’s an Appy New Year for cellphone users

Charlotte Guedry
People are looking for phones that will accommodate the ever-increasing amount of applications.

Cellular phones have come a long way since Motorola unveiled the first hand-held model in the early 1970's. Back then, people simply placed or received a call. The next step was the introduction of texting, allowing people to communicate quickly. Now, though, cellular phones are at their peak with the introduction of applications, or apps, as they are more commonly called. Whether for an android, smartphone, or iphone, apps are taking the cellular world by storm.

Goggle defines apps as ever-improving tools for a cellular device that are designed for ease of use. Currently, apps run into the tens of thousands, and range from buttons allowing us to find directions to buttons letting us say complete sentences in another language. Whatever the use, apps continue to grow at an increasing rate, and are here to stay.

"Apps are the way of the future," said Aaron Bertrand, assistant retail store manager at Verizon in Gonzales. "App developers spend a lot of time finding out what people want. They are monumental in taking cell phones from simply a telephone, and turning them into mobile computers."

AT&T Managing Supervisor Mike Barger agrees. “Applications are a helpful resource as they provide easy one-click access to safety and control tools, articles, expert resources, discussion forums and more,” he said.

With the coming of a new year, comes even more apps for cell phones. Whether simple tools designed to make day to day life easier, games, or social applications, here are some applications expected  to be hits for 2011.

In honor of new year resolutions, Bertrand said there are many new applications to help with sticking to the resolutions people have made.

"My Budget Cut is a great app that aids with all fiscal responsibilities. It offers tools for cutting daily spending, and outlines what you may have spent your money on," he said. "Three other great ones are Quit Now, which gives you support throughout the quitting smoking process, Diet 2 Go, which is the biggest mobile weight loss community on the market, and My Fitness Pal. This app counts calories for you, and can even be used at fast food restaurants," he said.

But what about apps that allow us to have a bit of fun? This market is an app designers dream, as the possibilities are endless.

"The biggest fun application by far is Pandora. It's great to be able to be in charge of your own radio station," said Bertrand.  "Also, Goggle Sky Map is nice, as you can learn about constellations, and the images are beautiful. As for games, Angry Birds is a bit hit at the moment. You'd have to play it to see how much fun it is," he said.

Sports fans also love applications, as they allow for the following of teams on a moment by moment basis. "NFL Mobile is by far our most popular application," said Bertrand. "It allows access to statistics, score and videos. It also shows Thursday and Sunday night games right on your phone. Even though the season is coming to a close, the app will continue to follow the season, with up to the minute draft information, and training camp news," he said.

Sometimes people may find they are spending too much time playing with their multitude of applications, and not enough time doing what they should be doing. In times like these, Verizon offers a service called Parental Controls. "This allows for a parent to actually lock down data usage on their child's phone. Parents can set times when phones cannot be used except for emergency calls. This gives parents piece of mind, in knowing that their children are doing what they should be doing, like homework," said Bertrand.

Barger also feels that apps used for protecting oneself are important. “Online and mobility safety and content control issues are important to many consumers. In fact, we recently polled the 600,000 AT&T Facebook fans about what online and mobile safety issues were most important to them and, of those that responded, nearly half cited identify theft (47%) while a third (33%) said viruses, spyware, spam and scams. AT&T Smart Controls provides information and resources to address these topics and more,” he said.

Sometimes the amount of applications out there can become a bit overwhelming. How do you know the best one to choose? What will it look like when displayed? Will it make life easier? Bertrand also offered some words of wisdom when selecting the right app.

"There are multiple applications that do the same thing as others.

If you see something neat you like, but you're not a fan of the layout, just keep looking. There's always something in the style that will work for you," he said.

Applications for cellular phones are a fun way to learn more about anything that may interest you. Whether wanting to know the weather in China, how to play poker, or how to feng shui your home, there's an app out there for everybody.

Whether for an android, smartphone, or iphone, apps are taking the cellular world by storm.