Retirement is a time when it makes sense to adopt new technology; it can make our lives so much easier. Fortunately, we have plenty of time to become familiar with new things. Unfortunately, the ETrade baby is more tech savvy than much of the generation that witnessed Woodstock and Watergate. (He even has more hair than many of us.)
Among the newer tools are the apps for smart phones. For those out of touch with the lingo, “app” is short for “application,” not “aptitude,” but you do need some skill to use these. My cell phone is stupid; it’s for emergencies and travel and has a 100 minutes per month limit. I never text; that costs extra. I don’t even know if the phone takes pictures.
Nonetheless, when I hear: “There’s an app for that,” it piques my curiosity. So, for those with phones that are smarter than mine (which would be most, if not all, of you…), I’ve researched some of the newest, coolest, most useful apps for retirees.
The first of these is Apple’s Find My iPhone, which gives you a map showing where your phone is. It’s not clear how a map on the phone you can’t find can help you locate that phone. However, I have it on good authority that variations will be available shortly that will pinpoint your car in a multi-story parking garage and your reading glasses anywhere in your house, including on top of your head. Now those are apps that retirees are waiting for.
Another good app is Word Lens. The original was developed to translate printed material between English and Spanish. You’ll want to get the up ‘til now top secret "big print" version, which is in beta testing. Point your smart phone at any printed info and it will magnify it to the level you’ve specified. This will be especially helpful if you’ve misplaced your reading glasses and don’t have the Find My Glasses app. As your eyesight gets progressively worse, just key in the new magnification and you’re back in business. That’s an app worth getting a smart phone for.
If you’re a retirochondriac (see recent post on that,) you’ll want to get the WebMD app to search your symptoms. Few people know about its companion MedAlert app that tracks down your physician with an emergency page. The app is smart enough to figure out which doctor from your lengthy contact list handles the condition involved. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m not even sure who handles what in my healthcare.
The gardeners among you will want the Weed Wacker app. Snap a photo of any emerging greenery (or brownery) and the app will tell you whether to pull it, pluck it, mulch it or fertilize it. The game Trade Nations is described as “best played in short, productive bursts.” Talk about an app made in heaven for retirees. I wish my entire day could be spent in short, productive bursts. Puzzle Agent promises an “engrossing experience” that combines “classic adventure games with thought-provoking puzzles.” I've reached the age where most puzzles are engrossing or thought-provoking. I don’t need an app for that.
Many apps do price comparisons, but I decided to check out Budget Police. With most retirees on fixed budgets, it sounded like a sure winner. You key in your weekly spending allocation and your proposed shopping list. It prioritizes your purchases and tells you where to get them at the best price. If your list goes over budget, it deletes the items it decides you don’t need. I did a test run with Budget Police. It deleted the wine off my list and said I was over quota for the month. You can be sure I won’t be upgrading to a smart phone to get an app that tells me I can’t buy wine.
N.O.V.A.2 is a game app that arms you with futuristic powers, like slowing down time, an invaluable tool for a retiree. I hear that N.O.V.A.3 (due out next year) will enable you to aim your phone at any part of your body and relieve the symptoms of arthritis. N.O.V.A.4 (still under development) will work similarly, but will burn off fat. I’m on the advance purchase list for that one. If it really works, I’d like to join the Artisanal Chocolate of the Month Club. I wonder if there’s an app for that…