An App A Day

By Sarah Fairweather Shamir

In recent years apps have become as common as, well, cellular telephones.  Once used by only a small group of people, apps are now ubiquitous and their function and use is growing daily. App, short for “application”, is a small piece of software designed to be used on portable devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. A Smartphone is a cellular phone equipped with advanced features and an internet operating system that allows the use of external applications. A tablet computer is a small, lightweight portable computer built around a touch screen and doesn’t have a separate physical keyboard.

It’s a Big World Out There

In this article I am obviously not going to list every useful app, since that is not practical. Instead, I will offer some suggestions as to what sort of apps available that can prove useful to text professionals. There are millions of apps and new ones are being introduced daily. They provide an almost infinite variety of services and possibilities, including games, music, books, maps, directions, business searches, traffic and parking information, newspapers and journals, conversion charts – even metronomes! Many are free, some are low cost and others cost more.  Users may decide it is worth paying according to their needs. It should be noted that not every app is available on every device. It depends on a number of factors; whether the developer has chosen to create it for a particular operating system, whether the app store owner chose to approve it and whether the developer chose to make an app available internationally or in certain regions only.

User Friendly

Before the user downloads an app they are able to read a short description of it. Following this, there are comments and ratings by people who have already used it.  These can be very helpful, especially as the ratings show the percentage of users who found the app helpful or not. The number of people who have downloaded the app is also displayed.

Apps for Reference and Fact Checking

First I want to look at apps which are available for reference and fact checking. A number of dictionaries and thesauri are available as is the Encyclopedia Britannica. There are guides which provide information about grammar and punctuation as used in real life, as well as their rules. Using the web browser app enables you to access numerous websites which are helpful to the text professional: for example, the Corpus  (http://corpus.byu.edu/corpora.asp) for checking work usage, or  OWL, The Purdue University Online Write Lab (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/) for general writing issues.

Track Changes: Not Quite There Yet

Many office suites are available including Googledocs. These are collections of software used to create and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations. These include commonly used editor’s tools but do not include track changes. Obviously an app may be developed today, tomorrow or next week which does include track changes. The only way to know is to check the newly available apps regularly.

In order to remotely control your desktop you would need to install an app on your portable device as well downloading software onto your desktop. A very popular example of a remote desktop app is Teamviewer, with which you can access many computers. Depending on how advanced and powerful your app is, you would be able to do anything that you would be able to do sitting at home through remote access.

Blogs

In addition, there are apps which enable the user to design and update a blog.  One of the more popular is WordPress.  Also, there are apps which allow the user to edit  a webpage, such as Silveredit, and those, like Adobe Photoshop, which can be used to edit photos.

Parting Thoughts

The benefits of apps are that they can be used whenever or wherever needed on devices that are light and very easily available. Most apps are very low cost, if not free. For the text professional, all the most commonly used features of a computer are available as apps. This does not mean that smart phones and tablets will replace desktop computers but they are a very welcome addition to text professional’s toolbox.

DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR DESKTOP – YET!

Update

Four weeks after this article was written one of the office-suites released an update to their app which includes support for track changes and comments. By the time you read this, there are probably even more new app tools to aid editors.”

 

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