Apps for the home
That new iPhone 4S (or iPad, or Android or Galaxy) you got from your favorite person this month is amazing, but it's not nearly as amazing as it could be. While computer programs are no substitute for hands-on experience, the apps featured here are a great starting point for anyone looking to add an arsenal of tools to his or her home improvement plans (with some especially recommended by experts). The best part? Many are free, and we've already done the research for you. --Lara Ewen, Special to Newsday
WITH EXPERT ADVICE: Richard Gibney, Wading River landscape architect and certified arborist
Dirr's Tree and Shrub Finder ($14.99, Timber Press Inc.): "Michael Dirr is a living legend in the world of trees and shrubs," says Gibney. "His books are the bibles of horticulture for landscape architects, nursery-people and gardeners. This app brings his work to your fingertips. I'm sure he will be adding content and photos, as he has always updated his publications. This has a large database and you can trust that Michael Dirr's information is accurate."
Audubon Field Guides ($4.99 to $19.99) cover everything from trees and insects to butterflies and wildflowers.
WITH EXPERT ADVICE: Cynthia Braun, Lake Grove certified professional organizer
Family Organizer (Free, Cozi): Braun calls this an all-in-one organizer app for your home. It includes unlimited to-do lists, unlimited grocery lists, shared to-do lists, a calender and more. "Having to-do lists at your fingertips will make your home more organized," says Braun. For example, sharing a grocery list among all the members of the house means no more double-buying or running out of milk. And shared to-do lists are an organizer's dream. "If Dad has to mow the lawn and Mom has to get the flowers and the kids have to weed, it will pop up on everyone's entry," says Braun. "Joint projects in the home get done quicker."
52 Organizing Missions ($9.99, Happiness Strategies) are 30-minute tasks, complete with a timer, meant to encourage users to tidy up one task at a time, from filling one giant trash bag to "detoxing" a car.
Home Routines ($3.99, Wunderbear) allows the user to create routine checklists of everyday chores that automatically refresh every day (with a gold star given each time a task is completed).
Nest Egg Inventory ($4.99, Winprogger Llc) keeps an inventory of everything you own by scanning the bar codes of belongings (manual entry works, too) and noting its location, warranty information, cost and more.
DécOrganizer ($2.99, Aisling Apps) keeps all your decorating ideas organized in one place, so you'll never forget how big your couch is or where you saw those plates you loved.
Dream Home HD ($1.99, Apalon) features an extensive variety of decorating ideas from professional designers, integrated with a music feature that allows to you to listen to your favorite tunes while browsing.
Remodelista ($2.99, Remodelista Llc) is an online interior design sourcebook app with a celebrity following (Gwyneth Paltrow is an avowed fan) and daily updates to its design archives.
I.D. Wood ($4.99, Double Dog Studios) provides detailed information on more than 200 kinds of woods, along with tips on lumber cutting as well as a thickness measuring screen and a nail size reference.
Project Quote Estimate ($4.99, KAD Software Llc) is a renovation app that lets you enter as much information about your project as possible and then estimates how much it will cost.
Home Sizer ($2.99, Armchair Design) calculates your home's gross square footage, estimates your home's value and will tell you whether that expansion you're planning will add real value to your home.
Magic Plan (Free, Sensopia) lets you create a new floor plan with drawings made from pictures of your existing home.