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There's an App for That

Anyone who owns a smart phone has heard the saying, there's an app for that. It's more than a cute rhyme. An app (tech talk for application) is a computer program which performs some function. Apps on smart phones are small programs that require very little memory and usually form a specific function or limited set of functions. In my last post I mentioned that we found an app for locating Wal-Mart stores, ALLSTAYS ONP Walmart, $2.99. There is a beefed up version that includes the Wal-Mart app as part of a larger, more comprehensive app, ALLSTAYS Camp & RV, $9.99. The Camp and RV app includes campgrounds and truck stops, rest stops and so much more. By the way, both of these show Wal-marts in two colors, a black pin on the map for those that allow you to ask to park and a red pin for those that do not allow overnight parking. Yes, these are shown on a map and you don't have to tell the phone where you are, it knows your location so when you activate this app, it comes up with a map showing your exact location as a blue dot (moving if you are driving and your navigator is using the phone because no one should be texting or using an app while driving). There are flags and pins for all the resources you want shown on the map. You can choose as few or as many as you want. You just touch the tab at the top of the page that says filter and the list comes up, For campgrounds there are 14 choices, starting with Army Corps through County/City park and Elk Places, KOA, Military, Moose Places, National Parks, and on down the list to Walmart Ask to Park and Walmart No Overnights. Then there is a section for Low clearance with categories from 7 feet to 15 feet in one foot increments. Below that is a section on RV Business of various types, six listings. That is followed by an extensive set of listings for Rest Areas so you can request just the ones you are interested in, Rest Area Eastbound or Westbound or North or Southbound or Rest Scenic Vista or Rest Turnout Northbound. You get the idea, you can customize the map to fit your immediate needs and not clutter it too much with all the data avaliable. The next section of the filter has all the stores that outdoor and RV people are interested in (well, most anyway), Bass Pro, Cabelas, Costco, Cracker Barrel, Sam's Club, Supplies-LPG Propane, etc. The final section of the filter has the truck stops, eight listings including those that are most popular with RV'ers.

Now the neat thing is that if you don't like this app, there are dozens of others that do something similar. You simply go to the app store and put in a search word and it comes up with apps for your need. The Next Exit is available as an app. Sometimes you get 2 or 3 choices, other times you will get dozens or even hundreds of matches. Some apps are free, others have a fee. And the really crazy thing is that people are writing these things for almost every little niche or interest. I picked up an app for zip code. Activate it and it gives me the zip code where I am located. That is handy for getting the local weather on the weather channel. You have to enter the zip code to get the local weather information. Have you ever seen a highway sign that says leaving zip code 34003, entering zip code 34050? Even if you know the name of a nearby town, how do you find it's zip code? Yes, I have a book, small with tiny type that lists zip codes and I've used it for years. It will gather dust now. I turn on the phone, tap the app for zip code and there it is. That app also gives you area codes and helps you locate a post office. You can use the look-up function to find zip codes for any specific address or just a city. Locate a post office and tap the map function and it shows you where the post office is located. Zoom out and you can see your location so you can navigate from where you are to the post office.

I have another app for latitude and longitude that also shows elevation. I haven't tried this for accuracy with elevation which is usually pretty approximate using GPS but it looks close for my present location. There was a map app on the phone when I got it and it shows where I am located. I can view my location on a standard map view with streets and highways shown. Zooming in or out as necessary to see the detail that I need. If I tap the turned up corner of the map there is a menu underneath the map which allows me to switch to satellite view (like Google Earth). That is accurate enough that I can tell which corner of the house I'm located in, which is someting I consider nothing short of amazing.

Key Ring is another app which I find to be really handy. Being full time for ten years I've collected membership cards for a dozen or so grocery stores, discount membership cards at restaurants, fuel stations, etc. My wallet is crammed with them and I still have dozens others that are stored in a container which is never where I need them when I need them. With Key Ring you can scan the front and back of the card. Many stores and restaurants are set up to read that information directly from you phone. Those that are not can get the number from your card and use that to give you the discount. Now, I don't need to carry the cards, I have them all stored in my phone. There is a calendar app with appointments that will give you a ring as an appointment comes up, you tell it how far in advance, 15 minutes up to 2 hours or more. There is a clock app with alarm function. There is a contact list app with address information and you can also use the phone list as a contact list as well.

I have been e-banking since we went full time. It was harder in the "old days." My old days go way back to 2001. Stop laughing you old guys! I never get paper statements, bank, credit cards, utilities, etc. I got a check last week and used the phone to deposit the check in the bank. The piece of paper is in my file in case something goes wrong but it didn't, the money shows up on my account when I check it with the computer or on the phone. Access to my account on the phone is just like the computer, it is password protected. I have a pretty good password so I'm not worried about someone getting my phone and accessing my account.

Speaking of tracking down the phone, have you ever misplaced your cell phone? Just have your spouse call you and you can find it right? With the find my phone app you can get a map location of where you phone is located. Louise has the same app on her phone so we can use either phone to find the other. You can choose to shut the phone down so it can't be used. There have also been cases of police arresting thieves who have stolen phones using this app to track the phone. While we're talking about losing things, how about your car? There's a app for that. Simply activate the app when you park your car, go into the store, shopping center or doctors building and when you come out later tell the app to find your car. A big arrow shows you which way to walk and will get you within a short distance of your car. I tried it and it took me right to my car in a large parking lot at my doctors office in a large hospital complex. It works. It might even help you find your motor home at the upcoming FMCA Motorhome Showcase and Family Reunion in Gillette, Wyoming!

I'm interested in birds and have an app for birds with songs and pictures. I heard a speaker recently talking about an app which will let you photograph the leaf of a plant and then will identify the plant for you. That is still in development. I'm an amateur astronomer and have several astronomy apps. One shows the moons of Jupiter and you can put them in motion to see for yourself the way that they revolve around Jupiter. It shows eclipses of Jupiters moons and other interesting events and even shows the giant red spot on Jupiter so I know when to look for all these things. I mention these not because I think many of you are interested in them but if I can find these apps, you can probably find an app for finding BBQ restaurants or quilt shops or antique shops. Are you interested in old cars? I'd bet there's an app for finding car museums. Want to keep up with the golf tournament, NASCAR race or a baseball game, there's an app for that!



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