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8 Inexpensive Apps that Mimic Expensive Items

by Rebecca Black on May 18, 2012

As more and more of the developed world swaps out their old Nokia phone for an iPhone or Android, the phrase “There’s an app for that” becomes increasingly truthful. With a smart phone, hundreds of apps are at your fingertips, bringing total convenience to a wide variety of situations. With apps, your phone’s potential is endless, functioning not just as a phone with wireless internet, but also a vintage camera, a pedometer, or a flashlight, but that doesn’t even scrape the surface of its capabilities. Apps can provide you with the exact same features as some incredibly expensive items on the market, all from the portable touch screen of your phone. With these inexpensive alternatives, you can save major cash and embrace the ever-expanding wonder of technology.

  1. Pocket Light Meter

    It’s difficult to find a light meter that costs less than $200, and the best of them cost around $600. Light meters are a photographer’s best friend for quickly figuring out what their aperture and ISO need to be set to for taking properly exposed photographs. The Pocket Light Meter is a free app that provides impressively accurate readings on your photography subject. You simply set the ISO on the necessary setting — lower for high-light situations or higher for low-light situations — and the app does the rest of the work for you. Tap the screen to detect readings on specific subjects. You can save the settings if you need to come back to them at any given point.

  2. Square

    If you want to be able to accept credit cards for your small business, working with a credit card charge company can cost you a ton of extraneous fees, such as an application fee, setup fee, monthly statement fee, flat transaction fee, and a terminal fee. They also tend to take a chunky percentage of the revenue from the sale. Square is a completely free app and free clip-on device for the iPhone that does exactly the same thing as a credit card terminal. It takes 2.75% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and AmEx, but there are no monthly fees or setup costs, and the payments can be automatically sent for deposit to your bank account by the next business day. It is small and sleek, and thus incredibly portable, negating any need whatsoever for traditional cash registers or credit card terminals.

  3. Nike+ GPS

    While pedometers such as a FitBit can cost upwards of $100, the Nike+ GPS app costs a mere $1.99 on the Apple Store and has some extra features that make it so much more than a pedometer. Nike+ completely maps out your runs, keeping track of the mileage, pace, and route taken. It shows you calories burned and broadcasts your progress on Facebook and Twitter so you can receive encouraging messages from friends. Your best runs are cataloged so you can aim to break your own records over time, making it an excellent tool for anyone training for a marathon. You can easily enable a personalized playlist of “PowerSongs” when you’re losing momentum to help you through the final stretch of your run. Best of all, the app does not require any sort of bracelet or other tracking device — your iPhone is all it needs.

  4. Skype

    Skype is an amazing service that can be used on your computer in the form of a chatting software or on your mobile device as an app. Calling long-distance can rake up exorbitant fees, and buying special phones for these services overseas can be confusing and troublesome. With the Skype app, you can call others with Skype on their phone for free from anywhere in the world. If you need to call a regular phone, Skype provides the cheapest method, for only 2.3 cents per minute via Skype credit or even cheaper if you have a Skype subscription, which costs $13.99 per month at most. You can even make video calls from the app so you can see who you’re talking to.

  5. ZappoTV

    ZappoTV is a free app that gathers all of your photos, videos, and music in one place, plus content from YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, SHOUTcast, and thousands of podcasts with networks from Adult Swim to HBO. You can do peer-to-peer sharing of any of your content. However, quite possibly the best feature of this app is the ability to transfer any content from it to your television screen, so you can watch any of your material with friends on the screen size that the media was intended to be seen on. There is no comparable expensive item on the market, as nothing quite matches the capabilities of this app. Usually, connecting your laptop to a television screen requires special cords, yet this app can easily accomplish it wirelessly. If you already get HBO Go, this is an easy way to watch any of your favorite shows on a regular television rather than your laptop.

  6. Theodolite Pro

    A theodolite is a tool made for surveying and measuring angles. It can be used for a wide variety of professions, including surveyors, geologists, architects, engineers, military personnel, and search and rescue workers. It could be used to tune antennas, to aim correctly in golfing or hunting, or even for navigation purposes. A regular theodolite can cost anywhere from $800 to $10,000, but Theodolite Pro only costs $3.99 in the iTunes store. The app has a wide variety of features. Among them, you can take geo-tagged camera images from your phone, zooming in four times the actual shot, and stamp geographical data alongside the photo. The reference angle mode comes with an A-B calculator for height, distance, heading, position, triangulation, and relative angles. The app utilizes the military grid reference system to determine extremely accurate coordinates. You can also use universal transverse Mercator coordinates and latitude/longitude coordinates.

  7. RedLaser

    The RedLaser app financially benefits you in a number of ways. A physical barcode scanner can cost between $200 to $500, and if you work in a field that requires you to take inventory, a barcode scanner can expedite the process. RedLaser is a free barcode scanner integrated into your phone, so you don’t need a separate, costly device. The app has a built-in search engine that shows you competing prices for items in your area, so when you scan an item, you can see if you’re getting the best deal or not. This could save you quite a bit of money down the line. It will also compare with online retailers. If you have specific allergies, the RedLaser app has a built-in allergen feature that will scan the various allergens in any given item and alert you of any you should avoid. You can also purchase items directly from your phone, hassle-free.

  8. Dropbox

    Buying backup software for your Mac can be costly. Apple offers its own personal software, aptly named “Backup,” but it can only be purchased alongside a subscription to .Mac while paying a steep fee of $100 per year. An alternative to this costly endeavor is to download the free Dropbox app. With Dropbox, any item you save into your Dropbox app or folder on your home desktop will automatically save to all your computers, your iPhone and iPad, and to the Dropbox website, such that you shouldn’t ever worry about having all of your important files in just one place. If your laptop gets stolen or crashes, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve saved all of your critical files on Dropbox for easy retrieval.

Categories: Advice

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