Land of the Free

I’m not usually one to take vacations. I love what I do and being a hard worker by character, it’s rare to see me without a screen in front of my face and a keyboard beneath my fingertips. But with today being my wedding anniversary and the 4th just in view, it’s time for me to break FREE from my devices! Turn off my phone, laptop and tablet and explore whatever this offline world has to offer. …Ok, I’m not going to do that. And rather than try to force “FREEDOM from the chains of technology” into a metaphor for America’s INDEPENDENCE – I simply offer you a rundown of my current favorite FREE apps and web services!

Now before I move on to what could be mistaken as the fluff blog banter of a man on vacation, let me tie this into advertising with two exciting stats I’ve seen recently:

1. Studies show that mobile users prefer free ad-supported apps over paid ones. Great news for us in the industry, and great news for us cheapskates who refuse to give the App stores any more money than we have to.

2. 65% of American mobile users sleep with their phones. So… advertise on mobile. Now let’s get to the goodies.

Thank you Google! Just released this last weekend. Sign into chrome and you can see all of your bookmarks, history, open tabs, preferences and chrome apps across all of your devices. This also brings unlimited movable tabs to iPad AND has an incognito mode.
Fun for all ages. The Google Maps API has been around for a while and has found it’s way into several cool sites and apps, but Lego & Google just stepped it up a brick. Build your own virtual lego buildings in real time on a real world map and then do all that sharing and networking we love so much.
OK, granted most of the phones I’ve seen with NFC capabilities currently have it disabled (my Skyrocket included) so it’s still in the realm of new-tech-with-low-market-distribution BUT, considering the number of NFC capable Android phones, the seemingly unlimited possibilites, and the rumors of the next iPhone adopting the technology, we could be one step closer to quick response without the QR Code as Microsoft demonstrated a couple weeks ago. For now, my romance with BUMP will carry on.
This app is the reason I could finally give up the experience of a printed newspaper. It does do an excellent job at presenting my news feeds in a comfortable beautiful way. Not only is the new Android realease nice, but now I’m trying it on a smaller screen and the vertical page flip is brilliant!
As simple as pinterest is, visual bookmarking gets even simpler. let’s me shift+click any picture I see on the web, and saves the image/link in a nice graphic tile webpage. And that’s it. No comments, no showing my friends, no cumbersome software like Evernote, just nice and easy. Man-easy. It’s not yet a phone friendly service – but that’s okay, as long as we have desks, we’ll have desktops.

I’m torn between these two fitness utilities. Dailymile is far more interwoven into other social networks and apps. There are several apps and websites that can send information to it like DailyCycle.

Endomondo on the other hand seems to be more about the App itself and the experience during the workout. If you listen to music while you bike or run, it actually talks to you in your headphones –“10 miles in 40 Minutes, 20 Seconds. Last lap, 3 minutes, 25 seconds” That’s cool, so for now, i’ll use both!

When my kids were born within the last two years, I just gave up on foursquare, because my check-in feed turned into: work – home – work – grocery store – home – work. But a new update to 4sq makes it a more useful utility for those of us who don’t get out enough to necessitate broadcasting our location. You can now add functionality from other apps such as EatThisNotThat, Untapped and the WeatherChannel.
I had left Charadium to check out all the buzz around Draw something, but the newer HD version for iPad brought me right back. That and the fact that I experienced 13 full screen ads over the course of one turn in Draw Something. It’s a real-time, chat-room-style, group pictionary. It features multiple drawing tools, and a free-draw practice mode. Plus there’s a purpose, there’s actually points and competition and achievements.

So enjoy. I know you’d rather be on the beach right now instead of at your desk reading your morning emails – But remember – the grass is always greener… Here I am, out of the office for five whole days, eyes and skin burning from this rare exposure to the sun, just trembling from digital communication withdrawal. I can’t wait to see what FREE apps and serivces you’re using in the comments below.