Mobile OS

Five of the most addictive smartphone apps

There are hundred of thousands of apps available, and some of them are literally irresistible. Here are five of the most addictive apps. Did the app you can't live without make the list?

One of the biggest appeals of upgrading to a smartphone is the apps. There are hundreds of thousands of apps available, covering a wide range of topics, and many of them are either free or inexpensive.

I recently wrote a post about a friend of mine who made the transition to a smartphone, and as a result of constant app use, she now has tennis elbow (or what I like to refer to as Angry Birds elbow). The best cure for this ailment is rest, but when you're addicted to your apps, you continue to swipe through the pain.

TechRepublic has featured quite a few favorite, best, most useful, and must-have app lists for the iPhone and Android smartphones, but which apps are the most addictive? Of course, the answer is very subjective. I brought up this topic at an editorial meeting, and only two people admitted their addiction. The apps they're currently most hooked on are included in my top five list of the most addictive apps.

  1. Zite - available for free for iOS, Android, and HP webOS

    The Zite app is advertised as a "personalized magazine that gets smarter as you use it." Perhaps this is one reason why TechRepublic's editor in chief Jason Hiner is addicted to it - that is, to see if it truly gets smarter with increased usage. According to Jason, Zite is the best news app currently available, especially if you connect it with your Google Reader and Twitter accounts. Jason also mentioned that Zite frequently pulls in his own articles. An app that strokes your ego? That's brilliant!

  2. Planets - available for free only for iOS

    Senior editor Selena Frye has been bitten by the star gazing bug, and she said that she's officially addicted to the Planets app by Q Continuum. One of the coolest things about this app is the Sky 3D view. With GPS enabled, so that the app knows your location, you can hold your iPhone up to the sky, and the Planets app shows you what planets, stars, and constellations are beyond your visible eyesight. Selena showed me how the app works, and I was pretty amazed by the technology - you can see so much of the universe, even during the light of day, both above and below the horizon.

  3. Angry Birds - some free and inexpensive versions available for Android and Symbian, plus iOS and Windows Phone 7 for $0.99 (USD)

    The last three apps on my list are all games, because I'm definitely more interested in having mindless fun than reading the news or looking at the magnificent wonders of the universe. Angry Birds is arguably the gateway drug of all apps - even if you haven't played it, you've at least heard about it. Angry Birds have even morphed into action figures, stuffed animals, and birthday cakes. It's become its own "thing." This app is very addicting, and you can literally spend hours completing different levels.

  4. Words with Friends Free - this version (with ads) is available for iOS and Android

    If you haven't played this app, it's very similar to the board game or online version of Scrabble. Zynga, the developer of this app, can be likened to a kingpin drug dealer, with its series of "...with Friends" apps, including Scramble with Friends Free (iOS and Android) and Hanging with Friends Free (iOS and Android).  I'm a word nut, so this app had me at HELLO.

  5. Draw Something Free - this version (with ads) is available for iOS and Android

    I've honestly been hooked on Draw Something since the first time I tried it. I'm not a good drawer, but it sure is fun trying to sketch a close enough resemblance of a word so that the recipient guesses it. You can select random opponents, which I do, and have multiple games in your queue. Since I've been playing it religiously for over a month, I certainly appreciate the good drawings that I receive - or at least the good attempts at drawing. I still run across an occasional opponent who just spells out the word. It was funny at first, but now I quickly side-swipe their name and click the delete button.  These folks should really save their talent for a Spell Something app.

What app are you most addicted to? Share your app addiction in the discussion thread below.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

20 comments
KaryMills
KaryMills

I like (Pacific Navy Fighter) on my Adroid Galaxy! I think I will purchase HTC win 7 phone, Is pacific navy fighter is available for windows 7 phone? Thanks :)

maj37
maj37

You know what they say about addiction, if you never take that first drink you will never become an alcoholic. To port that saying to this situation if you never buy a smartphone then you will never become addicted to these apps. Unless of course someone ports an app like Angry Birds to Windows and you down load it and become addicted to it on that platform.

tbemel
tbemel

Best app to read a book

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

yeah, I know. Old school! But that's why I have resisted changing from my ancient Samsung Blackjack with WinMo5...I can use ICS via the USB cable to get almost any Windows PC on the web! If it supports USB, I'm good to go...there were even some old reports that Win98SE could be used this way...I don't have Win98SE, so no way to test it. With newer smartphones the cellular providers want to charge extra for this "tethering", so I just keep my old PDA/phone handy! ps...this setup has saved me quite a bit of hassle at work, when the electric company sliced through the telephone company's lines, took all the long- distance and broadband offline! That meant I couldn't even fallback to dialup...Blackjack and ICS to the rescue!! ;)

SysWarTech
SysWarTech

Dungeon Raid & GRave Defense HD (Android) on Galaxy S2

DeanosT
DeanosT

Why no mention of the Nokia Symbian OS? Angry Birds and other Planet software is also available for Symbian, amongst thousands of other fantastic titles and Apps! Why is Symbian always left behind? People must try the power of the new Symbian Belle OS! It really has come a long way and is smooth and fast!

martinwtaylor
martinwtaylor

Angry Birds is available for WP7. Why no mention of the best phone platform of them all?

ggarland
ggarland

I like P.N.F. (Pacific Navy Fighter) on my Adroid Galaxy. It is one of the three apps I have actually paid for. I started with the free version and couldn't get enough of it.

ldavenport
ldavenport

Nothing beats holding my phone up to a music source and sounding a lot smarter than I really am when someone in the crowd says, "Who IS that?"

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

on our IT guy's phone (back when we had internal support). When he was at my workstation, waiting for stuff to load or commands to run, he would pull out his phone and play Tetris. I thought it was a little funny that he preferred that over making conversation with me. :O

tomtermini
tomtermini

Er, wait, already made my witty quip re: iOS. So the author must mention *every* phone operating system?

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

I added this link as well. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

That he he wanted to make more than conversation and used Tetris to stay out of trouble... ;\

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

If you read the post, you know that I brought up the topic (app addiction) at a meeting. Two other folks said they were hooked on an app - and so I included them in my list. The other three apps are my current addictions. I have an Android phone, but I did look at the App Store to see if my favorite apps were also available there. This isn't a post about the best phone platform (not sure how that was misinterpreted). If you're addicted to an app, please tell us about it - regardless of what platform it's on.

Editor's Picks