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Smartphone: These apps should not be missing on any cell phone


Was there a new cell phone under the Christmas tree? We recommend ten apps for iPhones and Android devices that will make it even better.

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iPhone or Android?

This does not matter with many apps because they are available for both systems

Photo: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

A new smartphone is a nice Christmas present.

Unfortunately, usually a very expensive one.

After all: apart from the mobile phone contract, there are no running costs and the manufacturers supply the most important apps at the same time.

But only the most important.

The special thing about a smartphone is that it is actually a palm computer.

And as such, software can do much more than just a cellphone with an internet connection.

With the right apps, it turns into a kind of digital Swiss Army knife that can actually do almost anything.

You just have to find the right app for what you want to do with it.

In the following I have put together ten apps that, in my opinion, should not be missing on any smartphone.

The selection is of course incomplete and subjective, but without these ten programs my cell phone would only be half as good.


Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

You should be careful with passwords and not make it easy for yourself.

Because if a password is so long and complicated that you cannot remember it, even hackers have a hard time with it.

We have explained here what characterizes a good password and how it can be constructed.

The question remains, how do you keep such passwords safe, after all, you should only use each one for one service or one app, something comes together quickly.

One option would be pen and paper, but it's slow and tedious and not really a viable option on the go.

The offers from Apple and Google to simply save passwords in the browser are more convenient.

On the one hand, this requires a high level of trust in the respective provider, but on the other hand, it is determined by that particular provider.

Password managers bypass these hurdles.

They save passwords in an encrypted database, generate complex, long passwords on request and are ideally available for different platforms.

Personally, I've been using 1Password for years because it's available for iOS and Android, but also for my Mac and Windows notebook.

Even Stiftung Warentest thinks this app is “good”, even though 1Password, unlike some competitors, is not free.

We have described how to set up a password manager here.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.

Microsoft Authenticator

Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

A good password in combination with what is known as two-factor authentication is even more secure than a good password.

In order to increase security, a second security feature is requested in addition to the password.

Often this is a six-digit number code.

The additional code is used to uniquely identify a user, because depending on the system, the code is sent by SMS, as a push message on the mobile phone or has to be read from a so-called authenticator app.

We have written down everything you need to know about it here.

Whether you prefer Google's Authenticator or the Microsoft Authenticator is to a certain extent a matter of taste.

It is clear, however, that this is basically about additional protection: With a service protected by a second factor, even a stolen password is of little use.

In addition, criminals would have to get their victim's cell phone, crack it, and then manage to get the authenticator app, possibly sealed with a biometric fuse, to work.


The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.

Google Podcasts

Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

Podcasts are the hot shit again.

And let's be honest: you are also fun.

By the way, you can get information, education and entertainment with this audio format - for example while cooking or ironing, jogging or in the gym, in the subway or in the car.

Podcasts are particularly suitable for short trips because they are often 15, 20 or 30 minutes long.

Audiobooks take more time.

SPIEGEL also has a large number of very different podcasts on offer.

iPhone users have it easy, a podcast app is already on their cell phones when they come from the factory.

Android users, on the other hand, have to get such an app first.

I like to use the Google variant on Android smartphones because it is simple and clear.

If you like, you can also use Google Podcasts on iPhones.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.

Here WeGo

Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

Sure, Apple and Google provide a map app themselves, and Google Maps is really good.

But sometimes there are things that other map apps can do better.

That's why I always install the Here app on my cell phones.

On the one hand because Here is based on its own map material, which sometimes - not always - offers more or different details than the competition.

In Hamburg, for example, you can view the routes of U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains.

In any case, local public transport is one of the specialties of this app.

But she also helps me to order a taxi and estimates what the journey will cost beforehand.

It also lets me download maps so I can navigate offline - worldwide and free of charge.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.


Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

Komoot is also a map app, but one for hikers and cyclists.

Accordingly, the Komoot cards contain different information than the cards of most of the competition.

Among other things, the material made of roads and paths is stored.

For example, on bike tours you can see how long you will be on asphalt, gravel roads and forest paths.

Basically, Komoot has two different areas.

On the one hand, there are the ready-made routes, mostly suggestions for hiking or cycling tours that come from other users.

In this way, no matter where you are, you can, for example, find hiking trails of two to four hours in length.

On the other hand, you can also plan your own routes and, for example, as a cyclist, specify what type of bike you are traveling on.

After all, mountain bikers like different slopes than racing cyclists.

If you want to cover real long distances, it is worth taking out a premium subscription, then you can automatically divide the route into manageable daily stages - including sightseeing and accommodation suggestions.

Otherwise Komoot is free.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.


Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

In the Corona year, parcel services groan under a flood of shipments, especially at Christmas time.

Delays can hardly be avoided.

For someone like me, it is unbearable not to know where the package I have sent is and when the package that I am waiting for will finally arrive.

Now of course I could use the apps of the parcel services, but that would be very confusing, because sometimes something comes by UPS, sometimes with Fedex, sometimes via DHL, DPD, Hermes or GLS.

I would have to keep an eye on some apps.

Parceltracker makes this control madness easier for me by simply eating pretty much all the tracking numbers that I throw at its feet.

Only if Amazon sends something with its own delivery service does it not work.

No problem, I'll just order somewhere else.

Either way, Parceltrack provides a good overview of where the parcels are and what is arriving when - and basically free of charge.

However, if you use the app as often as I do, you should book the premium version.

It costs 3.49 euros one-time and brings a few useful extras.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.


Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

You may already know Shazam, but I'll explain the basics again: Shazam is an app that can recognize songs just by letting you listen for a few seconds.

The principle isn't new, but it's still fascinating.

So fascinating that Apple took over Shazam a few years ago.

So you could simply ask Siri on the iPhone, for example, "Hey Siri, what's the name of this song?" In practice, however, it is usually quicker to simply start the Shazam app and press its big button.

The result is almost always correct.

A subtle difference between the iOS and Android version: on iPhones only Apple Music is offered for listening and iTunes for buying the identified songs.

This is also the standard selection on Android phones, but you can also select Spotify and YouTube Music.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.


Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

I haven't used any other Android app as regularly as Snapseed in such a long time.

The app was originally developed in 2011 by Nik Software and its German founder Nils Kokemohr for the iPad and iPhone.

After Google took over the company at the end of 2012, the Android version came out, which is still maintained today.

Snapseed is fascinating because, on the one hand, the app enables very quick, simple, but impressive image changes.

The filters "Drama" and "HDR Scape", for example, have to be tried out.

On the other hand, it can also be used to make very fine changes to colors and contrasts or the cut.

And all for free.

Snapseed has long been a classic for me.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.


Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

Even if some will say "yes, of course", Spotify is one of them - or alternatively another music app you trust.

Specifically, I just want to make it clear that smartphones are also MP3 players in the broadest sense, i.e. mobile music playback stations.

And Spotify is a great way to use it as such, simply because you can use it to listen to music even if you're not a subscriber like me.

Of course, you then have to accept some restrictions: you have to listen to advertisements from time to time, you cannot put together the music you are listening to completely freely and you can skip a maximum of six tracks per hour.

But it is definitely better than the program of the format radio stations.

And of course there are podcasts on Spotify.

If you want more, you have to pay just as much with Spotify as with the competition: 9.99 euros per month.

You can then put together your music program completely freely and load albums or playlists onto your mobile phone for offline listening.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.

Icon: enlargePhoto: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

Does that happen to you sometimes too?

Do you want to see a certain film, would you be willing to pay for it, but you just don't know which streaming provider it is showing?

This is what happened to me a lot in the run-up to Christmas.

Corona-related isolation, winter weather and little daylight made me feel the need to watch one or the other good-mood film from the 1990s again.

Just where? usually finds the solution.

And if the app doesn't find one, it's usually because the movie or series you're looking for is simply not being offered as a stream, but is only being sold on DVD.

Part of the app's charm is that it knows all the films I know - and of course a lot more.

And it's free too.

The Android version is available here.

The iPhone version is available here.

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Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2020-12-25

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