MAKING YOUR VOTE COUNT

“Countable,” free for iPhone/iPad and Android, lets you know what Federal bills are being proposed and will send emails to Congress for you.

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ON TRACK

We know personal trackers are quite the rage right now, but this is wild. Of course it does offer something different: tracking a woman’s ovulation period. But there’s nothing high tech about that, it just tracks the number of days.

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CALL 200 FRIENDS AT ONCE

“Popcorn Buzz, ” a free Android app, lets you talk to 200 friends at once using either your phone’s Wi-Fi or cellular connection. To set it up, you send your friends a link. Or if you’re already using “Line,” an app owned by the same company, you can access your existing friend list.

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USING YOUR VOICE TO TEST YOUR PERSONALITY

“Kijini,” expected out in July, is a free app for Android and iPhone that analyzes your personality by listening to your voice. The company is also working on an app that can tell if you have cancer by listening to your voice. They claim their desktop version has been used successfully in clinical trials with 45,000 people over the last 25 years. More info at Kijini.com.

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STEP COUNTING WITHOUT THE BATTERY DRAIN

“Noom Walk Pedometer” is a step-counting app, free for Android and iPhone, that won’t drain your battery as much as others we’ve tried, such as “Pacer” and “Map My Walk.”

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A CHEAP TRIP

A reader wondered how much data his smart phone would use, with GPS running the whole time, on a road trip to Florida.  First the good news: The GPS system doesn’t use data. Now the bad news: Downloading maps does. One way to avoid data charges is to get a free app called “CoPilot GPS,” which currently has over 14 million users.  (We wrote about it once before, but didn’t realize how crucial it was for saving data charges — since we’re on an unlimited data plan, but with very few talk-minutes.) After you install the app, download the region or country  you’re interested in. Now you’re ready to see maps and directions offline. You don’t need any cellular or […]

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APP HAPPY BIRDING

If you can’t tell the difference between a White-Breasted Nuthatch and a Blue jay, we’re ashamed of you. You probably could use the “Merlin Bird ID” app from the Cornell University Ornithology Lab. Non-smart phone owners can skip the app and get the information they want from AllAboutBirds.org.

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THREE GREAT APPS

“Zepp Tennis 2″ works with any Zepp sensor to show you what your tennis serve looks like in 3D. It works with iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets. Check out similar apps from Adidas (soccer) and Babolat (tennis). “Google Goggles” is a free app for Android/iPhone/iPad that identifies images for you. The other day, someone at the question and answer site, Quora.com, asked Joy to identify a picture of a fruit. If Bob had been there, he would have told her it was the Carambola, or so-called “star” fruit. Not having Bob there, Joy took a picture of it with her phone camera and the Goggles app showed her similar pictures, with links to identifying text. Ah ha! She even […]

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ARE FITNESS BANDS RELIABLE?

The information you get from “fitness” bands may be off by as much as 40 percent, according to Gregory Welk, an Iowa State University kinesiology professor, who tested seven of them. The top two bands were off just over 15 percent and the worst one was off 40 percent. There were $1.4 billion worth of these fitness trackers sold last year and the market continues to be hot. Professor Welk admits they’re still a valuable tool to achieve fitness.

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GETTING THERE

“Waze” is a free alternative to Google Maps (also free). It calls out turn-by-turn directions, just as Google Maps does. Just tap the microphone and speak your destination, or type it in. Then tap “navigate.”  For those who want more, Waze keeps you up to date on traffic conditions and can even tell you when your friends arrived at the destination. (If five minutes have gone by and they still haven’t got out of the car and wrung the bell, they’re probably arguing about whether to see you at all.)

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