Talk about overwhelming. There are millions of smartphone apps for your iPhone and Android that do everything from connect you to friends on Facebook to showing your bank balance to helping you book an airline flight.
There are so many new apps being developed all that time that it’s impossible to keep up with them, so you go back to the few that you’ve been using forever. Fortunately, Kim Komando and her team are always researching apps that will be useful, and sometimes just fun, so you don’t have to spend the time and money doing it.
Here are a baker’s dozen apps that Kim Komando and call screener Andrew Babinski use and recommend. In fact, you have heard them talking about these on a recent episode of “The Kim Komando Show.”
Keep reading. We think you’ll like these apps, too.
Kim’s favorite apps
Manage your travel documents with one app
Google Trips solves several of the biggest hurdles you encounter every time you leave the country, or take a road trip to the mountains or beach. It organizes all your details from Gmail and Inbox, including confirmation numbers, in one place so you’re not checking apps, emails and paper tickets stuffed in your luggage.
It also helps you figure out what to do at your destination, with half-day and full-day suggestions. That’s what travel guides used to be used for — now this app does the work for you with suggestions of places you might like to see.
You can also tell Google Trips about the types of things you enjoy doing. You might be a museum-goer or maybe you prefer the beach, or both – Google Trips will help you find those places.
Save your passport in your smartphone
What’s the most nerve-wracking part about traveling overseas or across the border? Did you remember to bring your passport!
You panic and look for your kids’ passports, your spouse’s passport and yours. Now, you can load all that information onto your smartphone.
The best part about Mobile Passport is that it’s the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s app. It’s currently available at 25 U.S. airports and three cruise ports, mostly in large cities like New York and Atlanta, but more are coming.
Multi-player game for the family or parties
Nothing is more important to you than your family. But it can seem impossible to get them all together for some fun.
The good news is, you won’t even have to pull them away from their smartphones because this super-fun family app is a smartphone game that’ll have everyone scheming, plotting, planning — and laughing.
The 10-minute game is for five to nine players using one smartphone that you pass around. You are secretly assigned to either be a good guy on The Service or a double-agent on The Virus — you each get to vote on who is sent to prison.
Scan your old photos with this app
Don’t take photos of old photos. We all do it and it’s understandable.
You’re trying to preserve your precious memories by taking digital photos your old family photographs. But you know how those turn out – there are glares, faded parts and the edges are invariably blurry.
Instead, use Google’s PhotoScan app, which digitally scans your photos. It scans to the edges of photos, pieces together multiple images and you can send your photos to apps like Google Photos, where your scanned images will be sorted and organized.
Share your phone’s processing power
You can use your smartphone to save lives, literally, and you don’t need to do anything but download this app and let it get to work while you’re sleeping. There are researchers using massive amounts of data to create personalized cancer treatments that could revolutionize the way patients are treated and, hopefully, cured.
That massive amount of data requires far more space than universities and researchers can store on site. That’s where your smartphone comes in — they’ll borrow your phone’s processing power when you’re not using it.
Best weather app
It used to be that forecasters could predict the weather for your city a few days out, but they tended to be not very reliable.
These days, with this app, you can get minute-by-minute forecasts of upcoming weather conditions in your neighborhood. Dark Sky will also serve you up alerts, maps and continually updated forecasts.
Reserve tables at pretty much any restaurant
It’s a challenge to find a good restaurant, whether you’re in a foreign country, on a business trip or driving around your own neighborhood. You can spend hours searching review sites and sending texts to friends to ask for suggestions.
The OpenTable app can help save you a lot of time and frustration. You use it to make reservations, look over menus and read reviews, all from one app.
Help researchers predict earthquakes
Earthquakes are deadly with more than 140 million Americans at risk. The U.S. Geological Survey is developing the ShakeAlert system that’s being tested now, and you can be part of developing it.
ShakeAlert is a potentially life-saving app that’s triggered when an earthquake occurs. The seismic waves are recorded by seismometers and, in seconds, sends an alert to ShakeAlert users. Those few seconds, like a recent 8-second alert in San Francisco, is enough time for many people to find a safe place.
Andrew’s favorite apps
Edit photos on your iPhone or iPad
There are a lot of photo apps out there, but very few as good as Enlight for your iPhone or iPad. It starts with easy-to-use, high-quality photo editing.
But it also has tools that professional photographers use that are straightforward, so you can use them, no matter your experience using photo-editing tools. You can superimpose images on top of one another, for example.
You can create graphic designs that you might use on a poster. You can add words, too.
One unique thing that you won’t find on other apps is an editing tool to make photographs look hand-painted. This is a great app that will help you create useful and beautiful images.
Manage your TV shows with one app
You may not know this yet, but you can’t live without JustWatch. OK, that’s a bit of exaggeration, but it’s the type of app you’ll use and wonder how you got by without it.
The app tells you when new movies and TV show episodes are added to streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube Channel, The Roku Channel and dozens of others. It’s similar to having your onscreen TV guide on your smartphone, but for all the streaming channels you watch.
Plus, you can find out when movies are playing at your local movie theater. Select the movie you want to see and type in your ZIP code – you’ll see theater locations and movie times.
Get recipes based on your dietary needs and limits
This is a recipe finder that’s designed for you. One of its coolest features is that it will recommend recipes based on the ingredients you have on shopping list. You can save recipes that you’ll use over and over.
Are you on a diet or eating healthy? Just input your preferences and Yummly will suggest recipes that are right for you.
Scan documents and share
This app is a huge time-saver, especially if you send documents to clients or you’re in the process of sending documents back and forth with a real estate agent or lawyer. You can scan documents from your smartphone and they’re turned into .PDFs that you can send by email or message.
Just think of all the times you’ve needed a .PDF, say in a hotel when you were on vacation. With CamScanner, you no longer need to ruin your vacation to run back to the hotel’s business center to print a document and fax it – just do it from your phone.
Create photo books, gifts from your photos
You’ll love Shutterfly and will probably find yourself using it all the time. It’s kind of like having your own, personal greeting-card store on your smartphone.
Simply, you can put your photographs onto just about anything, whether it’s a coffee mug with a photo of your grandkids for your daughter. Or it can be a picture of your dogs on a pillow.
Shutterfly is best known for its photobooks – remember the days when you printed photos and collected them in a photo album? They’re back, but these are beautiful books with your photos in it and you don’t have to spend hours of hard work putting them together.
Shutterfly does the hard work for you. Like the best apps out there, it saves you time, money and is an easy solution to a problem that’s been nagging at you.