Top 5 Smartphone Apps in 2012 - Lifestyle, Productivity

Mobile apps play a critical role in helping smartphones and tablets to win market share from PC and laptops.  Some apps make our life more interesting such as game apps, some help to find relevant information when needed at the click of a tip of a finger tip regardless of whereabouts of the user such as Google Map, and some helps to save money such as Pinger Text-free app.  The following 5 apps has evolved and become better than previous apps.

I rate these top mobile apps, not in terms of total number of downloads; it is measured by the values they provide to mobile user like me.

Price:               Free
Wow Factor:   Gmail account sign-in is hack-free
App Review:   Available

The second coming of this app exemplify the battle between Apple and Google.  The iOS 6 upgrade by Apple can be deemed as a failure, if not a fiasco, even though iOS 6 has other improvements.  For one, the upgrade replaced often-used Google Map with unreliable Tom-Tom app, causing Apple to receive onslaught of negative PR.  When a company has done things because they have much power, it fires back.  (Another good example is Instagram's "stealing" members' photos for sale).  The Google Map come back unfolds an even better version this time.  It can not completely replace Garmin GPS which uses satellite connection.  The new version is more user-friendly than previous version, and seems to be faster, not likely due to the faster iPhone 5 CPU

Price:               Free
Wow Factor:   Real-time traffic information.

This app may be of no value to teenagers and kids, but provide high value to working professionals, particularly in software industry.  Getting connected with former and present coworkers.  LinkedIn is useful to connect to less-personal contacts whom you may never meet face-to-face, can communicate via email only in job search, and be informed about news in your industry/groups which you subscribe

Price:               Free
Wow Factor:   Connection to recruiters whom you never met

4. Pinger Text-Free US, Canada

Price:                Free
Wow Factor:    Free US or Canada phone number
                         Free voice-mail service
                         Turn iPod/iPad into a phone 
App Review:    Available

5. Yelp

My wife and I was looking for affordable French restaurants to have brunch.  We read the reviews on Yelp, and literally ordered the same dishes which were recommended by multiple reviewers.  Our expectation was pre-set.  Every restaurant trip has been a pleasant trip

Price:               Free
Wow Factor:    Useful users' reviews

Two Runner-Ups:
Google Earth
San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge 

Price:               Free
Wow Factor:   Seeing the place before visiting

Google Translate

Price:               Free
Wow Factor:   Portable language translator and speaker

It requires internet connection to use this app; current app version does not download the language library.  It likely remains this way, as Google charges third-part to use its translator API. 

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