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This free version adds intuitive touch controls, a variety of game modes and the ability to customize the tile and background artwork by downloading new images or importing pictures from your smartphone's photo album. The game that's so addictive Alec Baldwin was kicked off a flight for refusing to stop playing lucky for him, the plane hadn't taken off yet. Zynga's Scrabble-like game challenges you to create words using tiles on board.

Take turns against your opponents at your own pace. Words With Friends Free supports up to 20 simultaneous matches — and you'll be notified when it's your turn for each game. Chat with friends while playing via the in-game text messaging. Music lovers, listen up. This free music-playing app is part game, part piano lesson.

As you hear familiar songs — be it pop hits or traditional melodies — you must tap beams of light at the right time, either single notes or chords, to play along with the ditty.

50 Great Apps for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry

While you'll start with a number of free songs, you can purchase additional song packs or play enough that you earn in-game currency to pay for new music. Part of the fun is listening in on other players' performances from around the world. If you haven't heard of this free app, it's time to come out of your nest.

The endearing, addictive physics-based strategy game gives you a giant slingshot to launch an assortment of birds with various destructive powers toward reinforced forts built by scheming green pigs. With more than million downloads across all platforms, it's the most popular mobile game ever. Lifelong learning continues in smartphones, too. Vocabology is a free app that teaches you a "word of the day," pooled from several sources on the Internet. This includes traditional dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster , current slang dictionaries, SAT Word of the Day and words from other languages, too.

The app offers a word and definition, synonyms and examples of the word being used in a sentence. There's a quiz, and an optional in-app purchase that lets you hear pronunciation of each word. The sky's the limit for armchair astronomers: Learn the name and location of planets, stars and constellations by taking advantage of the phone's GPS, accelerometer and digital compass. More than a thousand stars and all of the planets in our solar system are searchable and visible in the app, but you can also view and search for constellations and individual stars.

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Out of this world, huh? Available free to iPhone users, the official TED app includes hundreds of talks from some of the world's most fascinating people — including business mavens, spirituality gurus, tech leaders and music legends. The entire library is available for searching or browsing, in both online and offline modes, plus you can share favorite talks and playlists with your friends. Fotopedia Heritage. Recently named one of Apple's top 50 "Hall of Fame" apps, Fotopedia Heritage houses more than 30, beautiful, handpicked photos. View photos as a slideshow or wallpaper, shake your device to load new imagery and share your favorites via email, Facebook and Twitter.

Kindle is a free e-book reading app that lets you flip through millions of digital books, magazines, newspapers and other content. Features include adjustable font sizes and brightness, instant dictionary word lookup and the ability to share quotes and passages with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. If you have an Amazon Kindle reader, the app syncs with it to remember where you left off in any of your books. Stay on the right path with these travel apps. This nifty app offers comprehensive travel information such as flight and hotel search and travel planning and management packing lists, tip calculator, currency converter.

The simple user interface will find you some of the best available travel deals with just a few swipes. Craving some sushi? Need to find a gift for a grandson?

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Car almost out of gas? Yelp helps you find nearby businesses via your smartphone's GPS, and lets you read reviews from others before you go. Narrow your searches by neighborhood, distance and price; make restaurant reservations on OpenTable from within the app; find great deals offered by local establishments; and "check in" to let Facebook friends or Twitter followers know where you are. An "augmented reality" feature lets you hold up your smartphone's camera to see business information overlaid on top of the world around you. Sprechen Sie Deutsch? With Google Translate, use your smartphone to instantly translate one language into another.

More than 50 languages are supported, allowing you to type or speak a phrase into the Google Translate app and have it translated on the spot. Android, iPhone JM. A handy app for keeping track of all your travel itineraries, TripIt lets you forward all your confirmation emails for flights, hotels, rental cars and such, and TripIt will automatically organize them into detailed summaries with confirmation codes and other information.

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It'll also dial phone numbers right from within the TripIt itinerary. Get social on the go with these addictive apps. Feeling like an adventure? The North Face Trailhead apphelps you find trails, hikes and bike routes based on your location. Alternatively, you can search by activity or length. Using the smartphone's GPS, Trailhead will then track your route, speed, distance and elevation — in real time — and when you're done you can post your experience to Facebook, Twitter or EveryTrail.

Zello, HeyTell and Voxer Make Your Smartphone a Walkie-Talkie - David Pogue - The New York Times

More than , trails, hikes and bike routes are included in the app. The user-generated content of this free restroom finder is the ultimate resource for when you gotta go when you're on the go. An independent group began compiling the data several years ago, but the app was recently acquired by Charmin, which accounts for the prominent toilet paper branding. Contributors often include information on operating hours and sometimes post photos of the facilities. This free app lets users video-chat with friends and family anywhere in the world — as long as they're also using a Skype-enabled device, such as a tablet, smartphone, computer or television.

Using a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, you can see who you're talking to and they can see you; you also can tap to change to the rear-facing camera for them to see what you're looking at — such as a home renovation as you walk around your house. Bump is a free app that lets smartphone users easily exchange information between devices.

Simply bump two smartphones together and as long as you're online — via Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity — the paired phones will exchange contact information. Beats swapping business cards — and more fun, too! Stiff fingers? Not a problem. This voice-based tool lets you send, receive and record texts and calls with the touch of a single button. It not only instantly connects you to friends and family vocally, but also shows everyone's location, in case you need to find each other different privacy levels can block the information if you prefer.

And messages also can be saved and exported to Facebook and email. Protect yourself and be prepared for the weather. Search the Web simply by taking a picture — the free app uses image recognition technology to recognize objects and return relevant search results. Identifies products, famous landmarks, storefronts, artwork and popular images found online. The Weather Channel.

As strangely addictive as the TV network it's based on, The Weather Channel's free app delivers real-time weather updates, large and customizable maps, and high-quality videos that cover local, regional and national forecasts. Get notified of breaking news, such as severe storm watches and alerts, watch in-motion radar with past and future views and read Twitter feeds from popular TWC on-air personalities.

Formerly called Plerts, this personal protection device has monitoring, detection and warning capabilities. The accelerometer senses increased G-forces generated during a car accident and will automatically call for help. You can even enter a distress PIN to send an emergency alert. And every three seconds, the app records audio, snaps photos and notes your GPS coordinates, all of which make it handy to have along if you're traveling or in an unfamiliar area. Do you hate waiting on hold for customer service?

Of course you do. With a simple tap of your screen, the free FastCustomer app will navigate the automated phone "tree" to whichever department you need — such as billing, reservations or tech support — and then will ring your smartphone once an agent is on the line.

More than 3, companies in the United States and Canada are supported, including all major banks, credit card companies, telecoms and airlines. Tiny Flashlight. Whether you're walking to your car in the dark, reading on a dimly lit plane or stumbling to the bathroom in the middle of the night, your phone can make for a handy flashlight — with the right app, that is. You can also select from various screen lights with customizable colors and variable brightness settings.

Over 40 Magnifier and Flashlight. This clever two-in-one app is both a flashlight and magnifier. For example, you're in a dark restaurant and the waiter brings the check to the table.

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Simply pull out your phone and you can not only shine a light on the situation but magnify the text from 1x to 10x. An iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S is required for the flashlight functionality, but any iOS device with a camera can serve as a magnifier. You may also like: Tech breakthroughs in mobile health. You are leaving AARP. Please return to AARP.

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Javascript is not enabled. Share with facebook. Share with twitter. Share with linkedin. Share using email. Evernote A great free app to help you stay organized or simply jot down ideas wherever life takes you. Mint Set budgets, track expenses and reach your financial goals with the free Mint.

Venmo Venmo is a free app that lets users pay money back to friends, family or colleagues. RedLaser The free RedLaser app uses your smartphone's camera to take pictures of product bar codes and then displays, within a second or two, the best prices at online or local retailers. Pushpins This popular — and free — shopping app cleverly combines your shopping list, digital coupons and nutrition facts on thousands of products.

CNET reviews Buying consumer electronics can be an overwhelming endeavor given how quickly technology evolves, how expensive it can get and how confusing the terminology can be do you know your gigahertz from your terabyte? Groupon The free Groupon app brings the popular money-saving service to your pocket or purse. ClearPainting Free Use your fingertip or stylus pen to create a unique drawing on your iPhone.

RedStamp Fusing the old world with new technology, RedStamp lets you create and mail personalized cards, thank you notes and invitations right from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. SoundHound Ever heard a great song on the radio, in a store or during a movie and had no clue who sang it? Spotify For the uninitiated, Spotify is a music streaming service that lets you listen to millions of high-quality tracks on your PC — including the option to share what you're listening to with your Facebook friends.

Flixster Love movies? OpenTable A must-have for foodies who like to eat out, OpenTable is an app for restaurant reservations. Foodspotting What differentiates this free restaurant reference guide from others — such as Urbanspoon — is that it's picture-based. BigOven This free app is a more democratic foodie resource, boasting a user-generated ,recipe database.

Lose It! Android, iPhone MyFitnessPal Log your food intake and exercise — wherever life takes you — so you can keep track of your fitness goals. Endomondo Sports Tracker This free personal trainer tracks your outdoor fitness routines via the smartphone's GPS technology. Android, Blackberry, iPhone Instant Heart Rate Place your finger over the LED camera, and in 10 seconds you'll know how fast your heart is beating — no external hardware needed, as the camera actually watches your blood pulsing.

Android, iPhone PM White Noise Lite If you're having trouble falling asleep, the free White Noise Lite app might be just what the doctor ordered. Android, iPhone Next: Brain Games Unblock Me Free You've probably seen similar "parking lot" puzzles before, where the object is to strategically move cars of different sizes, vertically or horizontally, to allow your vehicle to leave the lot.

Shanghai Mahjong Free Relax with this new spin on an old favorite. Words With Friends Free The game that's so addictive Alec Baldwin was kicked off a flight for refusing to stop playing lucky for him, the plane hadn't taken off yet. Magic Piano Music lovers, listen up. Angry Birds If you haven't heard of this free app, it's time to come out of your nest. Lifelong Learning Vocabology Quadrennial?

Google Sky Map The sky's the limit for armchair astronomers: Android For users who want to skirt voice and data plan restrictions, a simple app like this one could be the answer. They might actually pick up the phone and then you would have to, you know, actually talk to them. That can be awkward. It allows you to send text messages, location messages and photos. It has three levels of privacy, allowing you to add or block friends from Twitter and Facebook depending on how open you want your communications to be.

It is ad-free but has a decent list of in-app purchases to change notification alert sounds, enable group messaging and add emojis to your name. Like Voxer, it works on any type of data connection. HeyTell is extremely concerned with privacy, going out of its way to give users options to opt into functions including sending location data. Zello formerly LoudTalks offers both push-to-talk apps and an application programming interface API and software development kit SDK so developers can add push-to-talk functionality to their own apps.

The enterprise capabilities of this kind of technology are vast. The Zello apps, at their core, are simple live communication channels.