We’ve all heard the phrase, “there’s an app for that,” so often that it seems to be part of the cultural lexicon--even if we’re not entirely certain what an app is. Now with the introduction of Apple’s iPad, there are more and better ways to catch app fever.
App, short for application, refers to an Internet program developed specifically for use on mobile electronic devices such as an iPhone or iPad. It’s like a window, or access point to a software program or Web site that’s been optimized to run on a smaller screen and use less computing power. For example, if you regularly log onto Facebook from a computer but want to get there on a mobile device like an iPhone or Droid, there’s no need to use the Web browser.
Just download the Facebook app, and with the tap of a finger, access a version of Facebook that’s designed to fit the smaller screen, use less battery power, and offer features better suited to users on the go. Or if you regularly frequent a photo site to upload, edit, and store images and have an iPad, check for an app that will let you utilize the device’s touch screen. You may not be able to drag and drop or otherwise manipulate images with your fingers on a computer, but you can with the iPad.
It’s impossible to know how many apps there are, but it’s safe to say that billions of these programs are being downloaded and installed on mobile devices each year. And there truly is an app for just about everything. Apps for the iPhone are most numerous, but ones for Google’s Android and the iPad are proliferating.
The iPad also works as an electronic reader, or book. Download books with Apple’s own iBook app or apps from Border’s Books or Amazon’s Kindle store. Using the iPad as an eReader is particularly rewarding when viewing cookbooks or how-to manuals. The Epicurious app lets you save favorite recipes, compile shopping lists, and view instructions and photos in a much easier-to-use package than a desktop or notebook computer.
Finally, a word of warning. There are so many apps that it’s easy to get download crazy. Review the reviews and be discriminating. Remember, apps are meant to be helpful, save time, and make your home life just a little bit more beautiful.
Here are some of our favorite home design apps.
Photogene  is a popular photo editing iPhone app formulated for the iPad’s larger screen, higher resolution, and processing power. It does it everything from simple editing to adding special effects ($3.99). Click here.