Webster Tech: Essential Apps for the 21st century Urbanite

It’s been four years since the release of the iPhone and the revolution of the smartphone industry. Our phones can do more now than they could 10 years ago and some of us wonder how we managed to go day-to-day without them.  So, say that you are a recent iPhone or iPad owner or you have an android device and you feel like your ‘smart’ device feel kind of ‘dumb’.  How do you get the most out of it? In this article, I will tell you about some of the apps that you as an Urban Male…or Female, should not be without.

Of course the disclaimer: Not all of the apps listed below works for all devices. Check your manufacturer for availability. Also, be mindful that many apps use data and that you should check accordingly with your carrier to make sure that you have a suitable data plan.

Breaking news

It’s hard to be on top of the news if you don’t have the right app for the job.

First up is the CNN App.Everything that you need to know nationally or internationally is right here. This app even has streaming video in which you can see the latest news live.  The only drawback is that it’s not customizable to your local area so if you want something more localized, your best bets may be the LA Times, Washington Post,  New York Times or even USA Today.

But, what if you want to customize your experience? What if you want the news the way YOU want it?  I have 2 suggestions for you. But first before I get to them, the first thing that you will need before you can start using these apps is an account with Google reader.  You may have this already and not even know it because all you have to do is have a Google account and go to reader and set it up.

Next up is the Pulse news reader app.

This is a very easy to use and easy to set up app. It’s available for most tablet devices and on android devices. This is essentially an RSS Reader and what it can do is take what you have in Google reader and turns it into a nice categorized news reader that gives up to date news based on your likes and your taste. This is the way you can get all of your tech news, gaming news or sports news all in one easy package. It’s a good package as long as you have a good connection because most of the articles somehow goes to the website. I just wish that even offline, it could store your pictures.

Next up is my fave…Flipboard.

This works similar to Pulse but it’s in a snazzier package. One of the differences is most of the RSS feeds pulled but it gives this app more of a magazine type feel.  It’s really cool but suffers from the same drawback as Pulse whereas when you are without a connection, you lose some of the images. Another drawback is that unlike Pulse you are limited to the amount of feeds you can load into the main pages. But between the two, I like Flipboard.  Two runners up are Taptu and Zite. AOL just released a new app on August 2nd and the jury is still out on it.

I Got Game

Are you a sports junkie on the go?  Need your fix? Look no further than your phone because there are a few apps that have you covered.

ESPN ScoreCenter

Keep up with all of your teams with ESPN.  It’s really easy and simple to use. You can customize it to follow all of your favorite teams and it really shines on tablet devices because of some of the extra features you can get. Just like the news readers, you need a wifi connection to use, but if you think this is cool:

ESPN Radio

What more is there to say? If you want to hear what’s going on, it’s all right here. All the local markets are features and for Spanish speakers, ESPN Desportes is available and it’s live. Also if you have a favorite ESPN podcast you like, they are all here too.

But for the ultimate ESPN Fan, this is not complete unless you have this:

Watch ESPN

Yes. You can watch ESPN on your smartphone or tablet.  Yes. The app is free.   Yes it’s live as long as you are connected. Anything that has also been broadcast recently is available for play across all of the ESPN channels. This is a sports junkie’s dream but it does have a slight drawback. On smaller devices, most sports events don’t come out as clear or as crisp as they can on larger tablets but hey, at least you get to watch! Also, instead of editing commercial breaks to cut out and cut back in, you have to sit through it. But still this is the best thing happening for sports fans.

**For Verizon subscribers

NFL Mobile

A football lover’s dream come true.  As long as you are a Verizon customer, this free app gives you access to the NFL Channel as well as the RedZone. So if you are stuck at a friend’s house and they refuse to turn from the Browns getting their butts kicked , you can whip this app out and see the rest of what’s going on at game time! This app stays on whatever device I have.

Special mention goes to the MLB app for the baseball junkies out there and to warn anyone that wants to invest in that app, it costs $100+ a season to use it but you get to see every game live.

It’s Movie Night

Out and about…bored and not near a TV…but you got a strong connection. What can you watch on the fly?

These apps may help.


Thought that Netflix had the corner of the market for movies?  Nope. Crackle is a good alternative for those that don’t want to shell out the dough for Netflix.  This app has a lot of old school titles and a lot of original shows on it, so yes it does lack the polish its competitor but still, nothing beats free.


Still the undisputed king of streaming movies, this is a must!  But also this is a time when it sucks to be an android user, but you have to blame your phone manufacturer for this as not all android devices cannot use this app. If you are an iOS device, it’s not a problem. This app lets me watch Law and Order, Star Trek or whatever movie or show at the touch of my fingers…anywhere there is a connection and best of all no extra charge! If you don’t have it, find out if you can get it and get to watching…of course you know, you need to have a Netflix subscription right?

Spandex on the Go

If you are a comic junkie like I am, then Comixology is a no brainer. This is a good way to get a lot of your favorites in an easy to read digital format. All of the top companies also have a company specific app including Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, IDW and Image. Most comics cost slightly less than the paper version and many have begun releasing day and date comics digital copies to coincide with paper comics.

What’s on the good ol’ Radio?

Ok, I won’t lie…I am not a fan of Pandora. Yes I said it. Maybe it’s because I am at a point where it’s certain music that I like and that’s fine for me but if you want it on the go, I have two suggestions:

If you are Sirius about your music:

Yes, there is an app for it. As long as you have a plan set up with Sirius XM, you can enjoy all the offerings for Sirius XM radio. I will say this, on Android devices, this app can and will drain your battery so if you intend on listening to it for long periods of time, keep your device connected to a power source. Another great thing about this app is you don’t need to buy an actual unit to enjoy it and it’s great for long trips in the car without having to find a channel when you lose the local signal.  Now if your pockets aren’t deep, coming up is a lesser option

It’s Wunderful!!

Wunder Radio is by far one of the best radio apps I have used. You can use it to tune just about any radio station in the world.  It can also be used to pick up a few internet stations along the way. Also, this app can pull ESPN radio stations.  This app is 5 bucks and it’s the best way to get as much radio as you like.

So that’s my list of some of the apps you should have on our smart phone. Remember, check with your carrier about data usage and remember these apps can change at any time.   Enjoy and if you have any suggestions, please drop a line with WebsterStyle!



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