5 new apps that will change your life

5 new apps that will change your life

Credit: (Photo: Thinkstock)

In a see of apps, only a few are truly life-changing.

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by Jennifer Jolly

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 4, 2014 at 10:43 AM

(USA Today) - Apps, apps, and more apps — tens of thousands of them at our fingertips, and some, like Facebook, YouTube, SitOrSquat — are truly life changing. They help us connect, share, save, and figure out where there's a clean public restroom nearby.

But aside from the obvious go-to's, what really stands out in the app-universe today? Here are some up-and-comers that may very well be the OMG! apps of tomorrow.

SPRITZ THROUGH A BOOK

I love to read, but when the day is filled with more tasks than I have time for, finding the time to sit down for a chapter or two just isn't in the the cards. The new speed-reading app Spritz lets you best a book in 90 minutes. The secret behind Spritz is the science of the "Optimal Recognition Point," where you stare at the same spot while the words flash up in a box on the screen. The apps' makers say that cuts down time because your eyes don't have to move around the page.

The app hasn't launched yet but you can try it at www.spritzinc.com. It makes me feel a bit car sick unless I turn it up to 700 words a minute. At that pace, it really is just a bunch of rapid-fire words blinking before me. Read an academic journal with it — no problem. But try a juicy novel and all of the conversation and nuance get lost. Imaginewhatarobotonspeedwouldsoundlikereadingtoyouandthat'swhatit'slike.

A PHOTO WORTH A THOUSAND CALORIES

I've tried to track my food off and on many times over the years. I currently use Lose It!, which is great when I have time to search and type to tell it what I've eaten, which is about 50% of the time. Why can't I just snap a photo of what I'm eating and have it just magically know? I'm not the only one who thinks that —the company behind Siri is now developing an app to count calories and calculate portion size with the snap of your smartphone camera. There's a lot hidden in our food — but if it cracks the code of figuring out a meal's "secret ingredients," it could be amazing — and not just for folks trying to eat better or lose weight, but also as a tool for diabetics or people with severe allergies and intolerances.

While we wait for that magical app, Meal Snap serves a similar purpose by evaluating photos of meals and estimating the caloric value. It's not totally precise, but the fact that it can offer even a rough guess is still pretty amazing.

STOP STRESSIN'

Need someone to talk to on a rough day sometimes and wish that tech could deliver the perfect pal — like Samantha in the movie Her? The StressManager app is kind of like that. It listens to your voice and measures the frequency, in order to identify up to eight different types of stress, such as nervousness and irritation. The app then rates the intensity of your stress on a scale of one: Dude, chill — to five: Time to walk around the block a few dozen times. It provides you with key details regarding self expression, and then recommends exercises to help you level out.

This one kept telling me my stress level was a one or a two — pretty darn mellow — which makes me a little suspect, since at any given moment I feel more like five or six. But in general, I'm impressed. I think this is way a lot of our connected tech is heading — not just gathering information for us — number of steps, miles travelled, mood we say we're in — but interpreting that information and communicating with us about it.

THE SHAZAMING OF STYLES

Another wave-of-the-future invention is going to be the "Shazaming" of everything. When you want to know the name of the song playing on the radio you just Shazam it, but what if you see a sexy skirt or snazzy suit on your favorite TV show? Shazam's working on an app for that, too, telling you who the designer is and giving you a link to buy it on the spot.

Unfortunately, there's no word on a launch date for Shazam's digital style assistant, but ASAP54 — which is out right now — pulls off a similar trick. Simply snap a photo of a clothing item you adore and let the app match it up with a catalog of high-fashion items. You can even tap into the vast knowledge of a professional stylist for advice. I think we'll also see this pop up for everything we see on TV that might be for sale, such as furniture, homes, and cars.

PERFECT HAIR DAY

This one might seem silly, but it could be a biggie. The How's Your Hair? app puts an end to that daily game of Russian Roulette you play with your 'do. Show your locks some love by typing your location into the easy-to-use tool and get a real-time forecast to help you prepare your hair for the day ahead. Your "Hairoscope" will tell you what weather to expect when you swing your front door open, including wind and relative humidity, and even give you a preview of tomorrow's hair forecast.

There are so many more — and we know you'll have life-changing apps you'll also want to share — be sure to let us know about your own favorite life-changing apps.

Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY's digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at techcomments@usatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.

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