Whether you want to make better sense out of Twitter and all of your social contacts, appreciate music that fits your mood or get paid simply for watching TV, there are smartphone and tablet apps designed just for you. While there are dozens worthy of this list, here are our five must-download apps of 2012.
Slices for Twitter
From streaming commentary during live news and sports events, to sharing info about public transportation during superstorm Sandy, to broadcasting what your friends are up to, Twitter in 2012 emerged as a (if not the) primary resource. But with millions of feeds to follow, it's challenging to keep this vast flow of information organized. Slices is the best app for smartphones. You can create individual slices for interests like politics, or technology and then tap into all tweeted news and commentary available.
Music-streaming services like Pandora, Slacker and Spotify are changing the ways in which we consume music. Rather than listening to albums or preprogrammed playlists, we now have access to entire "stations" on our computers and mobile devices that are built around our favorite artists and songs. This year, Songza added a decidedly human touch with a major update that showcases playlists created for particular moods or times of day. Songza's "Music Concierge" selections range from weekday "Office Crowd Pleasers" to "Putting on Your Party Dress" on Friday night. You can locate playlists built around most major bands and genres. Best of all, I still haven't heard an ad!
You no longer need to feel guilty about wasting the day away just curled up on the couch watching TV. With Viggle, you can get compensated from the likes of Amazon.com, Starbucks and Gap Inc. merely for watching and checking in to many of your favorite programs. Viggle uses audio recognition technology similar to what is found in apps like IntoNow and Shazam to do much of the work for you.
Keeping track of all your contacts across email, phone and social networks is challenging. Brewster is an uber-contact management tool that syncs to your iPhone's contact list, but also to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail and Foursquare. The app has a simple and visually striking interface that showcases the images and names of your contacts as you scroll across the screen. Brewster will automatically determine your "Favorites" based on activity, and it lets you easily search for contacts or create your own distinct lists.
NextDraft -- The Day's Most Fascinating News
While there is nothing technologically groundbreaking about this app, which publishes daily email newsletter content from satirist and news junkie Dave Pell, you will feel smarter and happier after you download it. There are hundreds of apps that let you filter and curate news based on your particular interests, but there is only one that compiles 10 of the "Day's Most Fascinating News" stories with Pell's unique wit and insight.
This story uses reports from Appolicious.com and Tribune Media Services.