“Famous Paintings” is a free Android app with paintings by Matisse, Homer, Uccello, Velasquez and dozens of others. Tap to zoom in once, then spread your fingers to zoom more. The details are remarkable. (Bob once visited a home in Morocco with $25 million worth of paintings in the entrance hall: A row of Fragonards on one wall and Watteaus on the other. Raphael was in the study. Now Joy has seen some of them too.)
“KidsDoc,” a $2 app, helps you determine what to do if your kid is sick. It is the top iPhone app recommended by the 65,000 doctors at HealthTap.com. The doctors’ favorite Android app is “First Aid American Red Cross.” You can see the whole list at healthtap.com/top_health_apps_2014.
“Be My Eyes” is an iPhone app that helps blind people identify a piece of mail, something on a shelf, or anything that needs to be identified visually. The app has already signed up over 78,000 sighted helpers and 5,800 blind users; these would use their camera phone to show a helper what they’d like identified. The helper who gets the call is under no obligation. If they can’t help, it passes automatically to the next helper. This really frees a blind person from dependence on neighbors or friends.
“Mia the Happy Helper” is a free iPhone/iPad/Android game for kids aged four to six. (We remember the first version from more than a dozen years ago.) Mia is a mouse on a mission. Sometimes she’s looking for hidden objects, other times she’s playing a small piano, sometimes she counts. The $2 version adds more missions.
CCleaner, free for Android, gets rid of junk on your phone. We’ve used it on our computers, and the phone app is just as good. It got rid of 898 megabytes of useless files, almost a gigabyte. A $2 app for iPhone/iPad called “CCleaner Doctor” is made by a different company but does a good job too.
A reader wanted to use his phone as a garage door opener. What a great idea. That way, if you got a ride home from someone else, and don’t have the opener, you can use your phone to open the garage. So can anyone else in your family who has the app on their phone. We found out how to do this through a video tutorial on Lifehacker.com. Search on “Monitor and Control Your Garage Door with Your Phone.” Our reader said he got it going with the help of his tech-savvy son. All you need is a smartphone, a Bluetooth headset, a $1 transistor from RadioShack and a soldering iron. Oh, and you might need a smart kid.