All About Apps Spring 2018

We all enjoy apps that help us in our everyday life.

We found a handful that you might be interested in adding to your collection.

Be sure to check these out!


Alarmy: Heavy sleepers rejoice (or despair); this app will put an end to “snoozing” through your phone alarm in the morning. Alarmy, defiantly subtitled “Sleep If U Can,” forces users to complete annoying challenges in order to silence their alarm.  Users can choose from Photo Mode, Shake Mode, or Math Problem Mode. Photo mode has you preset a photo of an area in your home. Ideally, this should be a well-lit place far from your bed, like your shower or your coffee pot. When the alarm goes off in the morning, you must get out of bed and take a picture of the same spot to dismiss the alarm. Shake Mode commands you to vigorously shake your phone until you reach a substantial target, like 30 or 50 shakes. Math mode forces you to solve a few math problems with adjustable levels of difficulty. The challenges are intended to get your brain and body active enough to prevent you from falling back asleep after you turn off your alarm. Alarmy is available for free for iOS and Android.


Mango Languages: Enjoying our library’s new Mango Languages database? Try making your language-learning experience mobile with the Mango Languages app. The app is free to download, but you must first have a Mango profile created through your institutional connection to fully use the app. Having a profile also allows you to save your lessons and sync your progress across devices. Once you are logged in, Mango Language’s bright, attractive interface allows you to download your selected lessons by language, unit, and chapter. Just like with the full web version of Mango, you will complete listening, pronunciation, and vocabulary exercises in the Main Courses or Specialty Courses category. There are a few things not found in the app version, including Mango Premiere (video lessons), and  the Mango placement tests designed to start you on the appropriate lesson level.  For these reasons, as well as the profile requirement, it may be best to make your first foray into Mango on the web version through your Bellevue University connection, and then start using the app to take your lessons on the go. Mango Languages is available for iOS and Android devices.


Libby, by Overdrive: Libby is the new library app from Overdrive. Like the original Overdrive app, Libby allows you to search for and borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your member library’s collection. You will need to sign into Libby for the first time using your member library card number and PIN.  If you hold multiple library cards for Overdrive member libraries, Libby makes it much easier to add and switch between your other accounts, without having to change settings. Its simple search and filtered browsing capabilities are similar to Overdrive’s, but the interface is sleeker and more attractive. Libby’s ereader app has more intuitive page-turning and menu access features, and allows you to customize text with line spacing, size, and serif options, along with the standard “night” and sepia modes. However, it does not yet contain the full suite of accessibility options available in the classic Overdrive app.  The audiobook players in both apps are similar, with multiple fast-forward, rewind, and playback speed options. Unique to Libby is the option to send Kindle eBooks directly to your Kindle for download, if you prefer reading on your Kindle but browsing on another mobile device. Overall, Overdrive has more options and is still the more robust app, but Libby is an easier and cleaner-looking app for single device listening and reading. Libby, by Overdrive, is available for free for iOS, Android, and Windows 10.


Google Arts and Culture App: The inclusion of a face matching-feature in December of 2017 caused this Google app to explode in popularity. The “Is your portrait in a museum?” function allows users to submit a selfie, which Google then compares with thousands of images from international partner museums to find your fine art doppelganger.  You have likely seen the side-by-side matches of your friends’ faces with famous paintings on your social media feed. Some of the lesser-known features of this app include virtual reality museum exhibits that work with a Google Cardboard viewer, browsing artworks by color or time period, arts and culture news stories, and an “Art Recognizer,” which allows you to point your camera at an artwork in a partner museum to find out more information. The app also finds museums and cultural sites near your location. The Google Arts and Culture App is available for free for iOS and Android.


Habitica: Habitica is a task management app that turns your goals and habits into a role-playing game. Players set up an avatar and add habits that they want to build, like flossing, with positive point values. Bad habits, like skipping the gym, are assigned negative point values. Players then track their habits and goals to progress in the game. Each time a bad habit occurs, the player loses health points.  Each time a good habit is repeated, the player earns points toward leveling up, and gold to buy gear and objects with which to outfit their avatar. You can then join with others to complete quests and fight monsters. This fun app “gamifies” the process of building desired habits and achieving goals in your daily life. Habitica is available for free for iOS and Android, and even has a Chrome extension called HabitRPG, which causes you to lose points when you browse unproductive websites and gain points when visiting productive ones.

Originally posted in the Freeman/Lozier Library’s quarterly newsletter, More Than BooksV. 21 No. 2, Spring 2018.

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