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Tech Review: Apps for the holiday season

Apps that help users stay connected.

Apps that help users stay connected. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

With the holiday season speeding on to the horizon, you may be welcoming hungry and thirsty guests into your home over the next few months. These apps can help you cook the meals, set the table and mix the drinks.

Food Network in the Kitchen

(iOS, Android; free)

No need to hire a chef when you can get help in the kitchen from a roster of Food Network stars, including Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray, who bring hundreds of their recipes with them. Use the app's search feature to find recipes by categories, chef or even by ingredient, and the "shopping list" feature makes it easy to get the right ingredients at the supermarket. To access some features, you must create a free Food Network account, or you can use your Facebook, Twitter or Google+ logins.

Kitchen Calculator Pro

(iOS; $3.99)

Cooking for seven guests but your recipe yields four servings? Need to convert an ingredient from grams to ounces? This relatively expensive app could be worth its weight conversions in gold. The app can also do the far more tricky weight-to-volume calculations because it contains a large catalog of ingredients based on U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Android users can check out the helpful but less robust Recipe Calculator (free).

8,500+ Drink & Cocktail


(iOS, Android; free)

Whether your guests want a Singapore Sling or a Long Island Iced Tea, this useful app can help you shake, stir and pour your way to perfect host or hostess status. The search feature allows you to find drinks by name, category or ingredient. If you invent the perfect cocktail (Mineola Mudslide? Hauppauge Highball?), you can add your creation to the favorites list.

Table Setting Ideas

(Android; free)

You may know where to seat your guests, but do you know where to place the silverware, plates, glasses and napkins? This simple app can give you answers and ideas. The app has photos for several types of get-togethers, from informal lunches to formal dinners. Especially helpful are diagrams that show where everything is supposed to go. iOS users can check out the similar Set a Table (free).


Tech Bytes



Parents: Doc's email 'visit' should be free


More than three-quarters of parents surveyed said they would rather have an email consultation with their kids' physician instead of taking the child to the doctor for a minor illness. But 49 percent said the consultations should be free. The results from the University of Michigan's National Poll on Children's Health underscore physicians' complaints that parents do not understand the amount of work needed for an email consultation, researchers said. -- Peter King


Almost a Smssy situation


Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has become a daily addiction for many. But would it have been as successful if it were known as something else? The new book "Hatching Twitter" by New York Times technology columnist Nick Bilton reveals that before the name Twitter was selected, founders kicked around other ideas, including Friendstalker, Twitch and even something called Smssy. -- Peter King


Learning curve


Apple is developing new iPhones for release in the second half of next year that will feature larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges, a person familiar with the plans said. With screens of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, the two new models would be Apple's largest iPhones and approach in size the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 that Samsung debuted in September. -- Bloomberg News

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