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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.